If you are even slightly familiar with current affairs you are no doubt aware of the humanitarian disaster that is Venezuela. After the election of socialist Hugo Chavez as president in 1998, the country was slowly and agonizingly plunged into economic, political, and social hell as destructive economic policies, political repression, human rights violations, compulsive money printing, and total disregard for the rule of law took a country that was once the wealthiest in Latin America to one that is now among the poorest and most dangerous.
Venezuela has among the highest rates of malaria cases, kidnappings, hunger, and corruption in the world. Its current inflation rate has actually eased to merely 927% after being 1,638% last year. You read those figures correctly. Its people suffer from chronic shortages of food, medicine, and basic goods. IF you have access to real money (i.e. US Dollars) you can get whatever you want, but only elites and folks who work for the precious few foreign businesses left can obtain them. The unemployment rate is close to 50%. Crime is rampant; the police are corrupt, and the jails full of political prisoners. If there was ever a poster child for what socialism unleashed can do it’s Venezuela.
The Governor of Texas sent 50 migrants from Venezuela who had crossed the border into the US to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. The move has set off a social media and news frenzy across the political spectrum with Democrats and Republicans finger pointing and grandstanding using terms like decency, morality, and political “pawns”. Speaking as someone who has actually been to Venezuela- when it was merely bad and not nightmarish as it is now- I cannot help but be appalled by how badly everyone here is missing the point.
NONE of those folks who were sent to the Vineyard are suffering or are having their human rights violated. That was happening before they got to the United States. Whether or not they are living in a shelter on the island or in a refugee holding facility in Texas they are much, much better off than they would be back home, like most immigrants from Latin America who assume substantial risks to try to get to US soil. Once here, Venezuelan immigrants are not granted the same protections as Cubans, despite the fact that the regime they live under is as bad, if not worse, than Cuba. We are in the midst of a desperate labor shortage. Every one of us should be welcoming to these people who have risked their lives for freedom and opportunity and understand what they are trying to do. Nobody seems to understand this. Near as I can tell, virtually no one among US political elites is seriously defending the Venezuelan regime any longer. Even Sean Penn and Danny Glover are now conspicuously silent about what’s going on down there. If Republicans really hate socialism and Democrats really care about the plight and suffering of people in the developing world, both sides should agree to grant asylum to Venezuelan immigrants when they reach the United States. Martha’s migrants are actually lucky. Give the millions still stuck in the hell of Chavismo some hope. Open up our borders to those folks, and frankly many more, and end the myopic, counterproductive political games.