I Grew Up in Chavez’s Socialist Venezuela. Here’s What I Think About the Current Crisis.

Venezuela’s air is thick with tear gas and its streets are stained with the blood of its youth.

The South American nation has been reduced to a battlefield as government forces brutally pummel protestors. For the past 50 days, Venezuelans throughout the country have taken to the streets in anti-government uprisings.

With approval ratings in the teens, the socialist and criminal regime of President Nicolas Maduro appears to be on its last legs.

Hundreds of thousands of protestors continue pouring into the streets, demanding an end to the corruption that has bankrupted the world’s most oil-rich nation.

Maduro has predictably responded to this pressure with more violence.

Nearly 50 Venezuelans have been killed in the protests in the past two months, and more deaths will likely follow if the government follows through on its plan of deploying military snipers to tame the crowds.

Such a plan, coupled with the repeated threats from Maduro himself, puts the fragility of his political creed on full display. Socialism is a scam best understood by those who sell it and, eventually, the ones swindled by it.

Over 20 years ago, under the banner of socialism and its endless list of impossible promises, demagogues hijacked Venezuela’s government, dismantled civil society, and crippled the national economy.

Led by Maduro’s deceased predecessor, Hugo Chavez, the socialists implemented measures that crippled the private sector and triggered massive capital flights and brain drains.

Growing up in Chavez’s Venezuela is the defining experience of my life. The country was collapsing and no one seemed to be able to stop it. The opposition was persecuted, journalists were silenced, peaceful protesters were murdered, and crime was rampant.

As a kid, the crisis was evident to me when it was no longer safe to play baseball in the streets, when my parents whispered about yet another kidnapping in the neighborhood, or when my grandmother returned home teary-eyed after being…

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