Venezuela is the new Cuba

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 11:41 am by Neal
Hugo Chavez and his hero-comrade, Fidel Castro, sharing their dreams together.

We’ve written often on Venezuela’s transformation to a socialist hell-hole under the thugocracy of Hugo Chavez. Like all socialist “worker’s paradises”, Venezuela is now dying of hemophilia: her best and brightest citizens are bleeding out of the country. They are giving up their homes, businesses and dreams and starting over in other lands because they understand what so many Chavez-adoring leftists do not: without freedom, nothing else matters.

Following in the footsteps of his Cuban comrade, Fidel Castro, Chavez is bringing equality, brotherhood, poverty and oppression to Venezuela. How appropriate that many of Venezuela’s displaced citizens are seeking refuge in Florida along with their Cuban cousins. Hugo certainly must be proud. From the New York Times, Rise of Chávez Sends Venezuelans to Florida:

“I had a business in Venezuela, I had shops in Caracas, everything was working perfectly,” Mr. Dunaevschi, 39, said. “I left everything.” He added, “I began here from zero.”

The Dunaevschis are part of a wave of Venezuelans, mostly from the middle and upper classes, who have fled to the United States as Mr. Chávez has tightened his grip on the country’s political institutions, imposing his socialist vision and threatening to assert greater state control over many parts of the economy.

While many have been able to establish legal residency and obtain a green card, either through business or marriage, others have remained here illegally.

The surge is an example of how the political and social realities of Latin America are immediately reflected on the streets of South Florida, a dynamic that has come to define this region in the past half century.

Many Venezuelans have been able to transfer some of their wealth as they have settled in America. For two years, Mr. Dunaevschi flew to Caracas every few months carrying empty suitcases, which he filled with the family’s essential belongings and carted back to Miami.

In Caracas, he laid off the family’s employees, sold his cars, furniture and properties and eventually closed his business. Meanwhile, in Miami, he opened a new furniture company and settled into his new American life.

According to census data, the Venezuelan community in the United States has grown more than 94 percent this decade, from 91,507 in 2000, the year after Mr. Chávez took office, to 177,866 in 2006. Much of that rise has occurred in South Florida, making the Venezuelan community one of the fastest growing Latino subpopulations in the region this decade. In many ways, the Venezuelan influx is reminiscent of the Cuban migration spurred by Fidel Castro’s overthrow of Fulgencio Batista in 1959 and his imposition of a socialist state.

Manuel Corao, director of one of several Venezuelan newspapers published in South Florida, said the main reason for the migration was a fear that Mr. Chávez would significantly alter the quality of life for the middle and upper classes.

“The principle reason is fear of change of daily life, the loss of private property, loss of independence from the government, fear of the loss of constitutional rights and individual liberties,” said Mr. Corao, who relocated permanently from Venezuela in 1996 and runs Venezuela al Dia, a thrice-monthly tabloid with offices in Doral, a Miami suburb where Venezuelans have settled.

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

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