Sunday, July 5, 2009

Groundswell

VenEconomy
07/03/2009

Groundswell

The public’s attention generally focuses on the circumstantial, while analysis of the transcendental or structural is avoided or postponed.
One of those transcendental problems is the gradual destruction of human capital in Venezuela. In Newsweek Web this week, Mac Margolis analyzes the exodus of Venezuelans during the decade of the Chávez administration.
This analyst tells of the tens of thousands of Venezuelans who have gone to live abroad owing to the policies of a government that believes that the country is its own private property and has radically polarized the population, commenting that this mass of emigrants is made up particularly of artists, lawyers, doctors, managers, and engineers.
He maintains that this exodus has not only split up families, but that it will also affect the country’s future. He points out that, in Chávez’s Venezuela, talent is one of the main exports and warns that this goes against the tide of the repatriation policies being implemented by many developing countries today to recover their economies and consolidate their democracies.
This situation is somewhat reminiscent of Fidel Castro’s Cuba at the start of his communist revolution, when the best of the country’s middle class emigrated. That Cuban exodus was crucial for transforming Miami from a geriatric tourism area to the prosperous cultural and business center with considerable influence in the entire Latin American region that it is today. That mass emigration of professionals and prosperous, qualified manpower was a decisive factor that contributed to Cuba becoming one of the most backward countries in Latin America, on a par with Haiti.
Why has Venezuela, which until the 90s attracted immigrants, become a country of emigrants that is losing valuable human resources that are fundamental for building its future? The short answer is Hugo Chávez! A longer answer is provided by this analyst of Hugo Chávez’s policies.
One of the first brain drains occurred with the expulsion of more than 20,000 professionals from PDVSA. This wrecked the state-owned oil company, which has now become corrupt and efficient.
Another has been triggered by the high level of politicization of government agencies and state-owned companies, which has resulted in anyone who is against Chávez’s project being denied job opportunities and the chance to take part in the country’s development. Then there is the government’s anti-private enterprise policy, which has drastically reduced the productive apparatus and, consequently, the sources of jobs that do not depend on having a party card. Today, it is practically compulsory to run candidates to jobs in the growing number of state-owned companies through the filter of the Tascón List.
Other factors that have contributed to this mass exodus are the government’s harassment of free thought and free creativity that is scaring off intellectuals and researchers; the capital depletion of health centers that is making doctors and other health professionals go elsewhere; the threat to private property, which makes people fear that they will be left with nothing after years of hard work; and the appalling crime levels and impunity that have prompted families to leave the country for fear of their lives.
In short, this is a spurious government that steals from the nation’s youth the possibility of having a future in their own country and deprives Venezuela of the talent it needs in order to develop.

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