Wednesday, March 06, 2013
Word is that Venezuela's chief kleptocrat has croaked, as an old friend would
put it, and to address the issue with the proper degree of respect. By way of
understatement, it is interesting to consider the scope and scale of this man's
looting by considering just the off-the-books portion that he and his cronies skimmed off the top of what the state took.
Criminal Justice International Associates (CJIA), a risk assessment and global analysis firm in Miami, estimated in a recent report that the Chávez Frías family in Venezuela has "amassed a fortune" similar to that of the Castro brothers in Cuba.Nobody else is going to say this, so I will: What's wrong here isn't that these people took the money for themselves. It's that they stole at all. This goes for everything that Chavez did officially, too.
According to Jerry Brewer, president of CJIA, "the personal fortune of the Castro brothers has been estimated at a combined value of around $2 billion."
"We believe that organized bolivarian criminal groups within the Chávez administration have subtracted around $100 billion out of the nearly $1 trillion in oil income made by PDVSA since 1999."
As staggering as the larceny reported above is, it is nothing compared to the looting of Venezuela's economy represented by the socialization of its major industries. Chavez was not an imperfect saint or someone who chose associates badly: He was a criminal, and a remarkably destructive one at that.
It's too bad that stealing something is regarded by almost everyone as moral so long as it is done by a government for the stated intention of aiding the poor. This fact will cause people the world over to fail to realize that an evil man is gone, and it will mean that his removal will not necessarily enable Venezuela to become freer and more prosperous. Indeed, all it means is that the millions who voted for him will look for a substitute until and unless his opponents fight and defeat the ethical and political notions that made his ascent to power possible in the first place.