In keeping with his governing style, that is, rule by decree, "President" Chávez recently nationalized Venezuela’s gold mining industry. With its expropriation, the dictator continues his campaign of “21st-century Socialism.”
Over the past decade, Hugo Chávez has radically altered Venezuela’s economic landscape. Executing a pernicious, politically driven, nationalization program, the government has systematically taken over key sectors. In doing so, Chávez stripped private industry, its investors — not to mention political opponents — of infrastructure, private property, and profits. Since 2002, almost 1,000 companies have been seized. For socialists and statists the world over, this is something of a guide, a graduate seminar in confiscation and class warfare. But for the rest of us, it remains a lesson in economic decay and failed leadership.
The takeover of gold mining operations should surprise no one. With gold commanding upwards of $1,600 dollars an ounce, the industry is highly profitable. And it is the profit of private enterprise that Chávez endeavors to exploit for his ends. As the dictator himself once said, “We can't have socialism if the state doesn't have control over its resources!"
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Photo of Hugo Chávez: AP Images