By Jon Dougherty
Conservative media figure Debbie D’Souza, who was born in Venezuela, said her native country was once wealthy and its people prosperous until they fell for the lie of socialism promised by the late Hugo Chavez.
In an interview with Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” last week, D’Souza recounted how growing up in what used to be the richest country in South America was no different than someone growing up in the U.S. or a similarly prosperous country.
And while there is corruption in nearly every country, she said — including Venezuela back then — the government largely “followed the constitution.”
“It was not a tyrannical dictatorship like it’s become now,” she said.
Importantly, D’Souza noted that despite being a wealthy country, Chavez managed to tap into his people’s emotions when selling his socialist policies of “equality” without really understanding what it meant and how he planned to achieve it.
Today, nearly two decades later, co-host Dean Cain said that nearly 90 percent of all Venezuelans live in poverty, according to the most recent statistics, inflation is at 10 million percent, and there are chronic shortages of everything from basic food items to medicines and other goods. Also, 5,000 Venezuelans are leaving the country every day, he added.
Noting that many Democrats running for their party’s 2020 presidential nomination are pushing the very same policies as Chavez and his successor, now-embattled President Nicolas Maduro, whom the U.S. no longer considers the country’s valid leader, Cain asked D’Souza her thoughts about those who say what’s going on in Venezuela could never happen in America.
“Well, my family said it could never happen there,” she said. “They were convinced that Hugo Chavez was not going to turn the country into a Communist country, and he did it. For the last 20 years, Venezuela has been on the road to socialism,” noting that the changes didn’t happen overnight.
Currently, Democratic presidential contenders like Sens. Kamala Harris (California) and Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) are proposing substantially higher taxes on “the wealthy,” which is exactly what Chavez did — until he found that eventually just taxing ‘the rich’ wasn’t enough to sustain all of the benefits like free college, housing, and guaranteed wages he had promised.
But by then, there were no more wealthy Venezuelans to finance the benefits because they had either lost all of their prosperity and businesses or had fled the country.
“Socialism is equal misery,” D’Souza continued. “Anybody that thinks otherwise needs to go to Venezuela and see for themselves. You can’t find food, you go from grocery store to grocery store just to find the basics. You line up, and if you don’t get in by the time they close, you don’t get food.
“There have been reports of people actually eating their own pets,” she continued. “It’s horrific. I can’t imagine anyone in America would think that something like this was a wonderful thing. It’s a terrible way to live.”
Meanwhile, scenes on the streets of the capital of Caracas and other Venezuelan cities are pure chaos, as demonstrators and protesters clash with police and security forces on a daily basis.
As for Warren, she is calling her plan the “ultra-millionaires tax” because it would only affect a small percentage of earners — those making over $50 million a year.
But as D’Souza notes, that’s only the beginning; socialists can never confiscate enough wealth because the cost of their promised benefits continue to escalate as they encapsulate more and more people.
And inevitably, as even socialist Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York State discovered this week, you can only go to the “wealthy” well so many times before your tax schemes become counterproductive and you raise less money.
“That’s exactly how it happened” in Venezuela, D’Souza said, noting that Chavez’s policies impacted “those who were hard-working and making money” first.
“The regime actually imposed price controls on business owners” so that “they couldn’t make a profit anymore, so a lot of the middle class, the upper middle class, they started moving out of Venezuela.”
“They ran out of people’s money, and now they have horrific poverty and horrific crime,” said D’Souza.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10
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