Sunday, May 07, 2017

Venezuela: A Chance to Show What the Church Can Do

Venezuela's declining economic indicators (WSJ Graphic)
Following his election as President, Hugo Chávez was acclaimed by Hollywood, the press, and academia as he nationalized major sectors of the economy. Under Venezuelan socialism, aka the "Bolivarian revolution", he was able to raise the standard of living in the first decade of the 21st century (Wikipedia: "there were improvements in areas such as poverty, literacy, income equality, and quality of life occurring primarily between 2003 and 2007").

When oil prices fell, Hugo Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro clamped down further on what remained of private industry to maintain the level of government spending. Venezuela's downward spiral was predictable by non-partisan students of socialism, but the degree of the plunge has been horrendous.
Hordes of people, many with children in tow, rummage through garbage, an uncommon sight a year ago. People in the countryside pick farms clean at night, stealing everything from fruits hanging on trees to pumpkins on the ground, adding to the misery of farmers hurt by shortages of seed and fertilizer. Looters target food stores. Families padlock their refrigerators.
As cracks appeared in the Chávez edifice, opponents of socialism crowed vindication. However, in 2017 Venezuela's misery has reached the point where no one can derive satisfaction from ideological I-told-you-so's.

"Authorities have resisted offers of food and aid from abroad," so donations through the government are currently out of the question.

The Catholic Church is a possible avenue; the Episcopal Church is another. For decades organized Christianity has been struggling to show that it is relevant. Here's an opportunity to show what it can do.

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