Despite turning Venezuela into a crime-ridden economic mess after 14 years of pushing his central command socialist policies -- fueled primarily by oil revenues -- Hugo Chávez has once again confounded experts and won yet another democratic national election.
Seemingly resilient in his abilities to beat cancer and also his charismatic political opponent Henrique Capriles, Chavez is now poised to advance his brand of socialist mischief for another six long years with an iron grip
Chávez, primary antagonist of the Americas to the U.S., was announced the winner with 54 percent of the votes by the National Electoral Council, a federal institution who refuses to be audited despite voter lists believed to be highly corrupted.
"Today we start a new cycle of government, in which we must respond with greater efficacy and efficiency to the needs of our people," said the man whose government currently dictates most production and investment activity for Venezuela’s private sector. "I promise you I'll be a better president," added the contentious populist.
But how do you become a better president unless you reverse the statist policies that have placed Venezuela 174th -- almost dead last -- in the ranking of economically free nations in the latest Economic Freedom Index?
How do you bring more efficiency and efficacy to the people of Venezuela when corruption rules the day, rule of law teeters over a precipice, contracts and property rights are ignored, and the threat of expropriation has sunk foreign investment to new lows?
In 2006 Chávez ordered takeovers of the telecoms, electricity and oil sectors.
Are we to expect an easing up on expropriations? Doubtful.
Don’t even think about filling your head with such hopes. Chávez did not campaign on a new approach to governance, and he didn’t promise to reverse the course.
In fact, throughout the campaign he promised to expand on more and more programs for more and more people -- all of this financed with state funds.
To be sure, Capriles never campaigned on changes that would affect immediate and far-reaching change to transform the statist status quo. Nevertheless, his calls for transparency, government accountability, rule of law, and improved relations with the U.S were a desired change and a preferred course reversal.
Chavez proposed no market reforms, decreed no new measures to expand civil liberties, and offered no economic policies that will reverse the high unemployment and poverty rates currently plaguing the Venezuelan people. There were no promises forthcoming to improve the overall freedom to allow the Venezuelans to engage in increased entrepreneurial activity.
To the contrary, the private sector can expect to be further constrained by heavy government control, and the menace of nationalization is a looming reality.
Regrettably, by choosing to overlook Chávez's history of attacks on free speech, anti-Americanism, ill-advised price controls, his curbing of property rights, and the nationalization of more and more sectors in the private economy, Venezuelans will only experience a worsening degeneration of personal income security and economic growth of an entire nation.
The self-serving and reckless spending spree of national treasure that Chávez has been on during this election season has already weakened Venezuela's finances, and another significant currency devaluation is predicted for early 2013.
This irresponsible spending only promises to explode the already high inflation rate currently crippling the everyday citizen’s ability to sustain a decent living in an ever-deteriorating economy.
Now all that is left is a continuation of failed statist policies that have left the Venezuelan economy in shambles – one in which scarcity, shortages, high inflation and unemployment are the new norm.
In the end, it was a missed opportunity to regain much needed economic liberty for the people of Venezuela.
Worse yet, the election has reaffirmed Hugo Chávez as the sole arbiter of each Venezuelan’s economic destiny.
The people of Venezuela would be wise to heed John F. Kennedy’s words: “Do not pray for easier days, pray to be stronger men.”
Daniel Garza was formerly Associate Director at the Office of Public Liaison for The White House. He is currently the Executive Director of The LIBRE Initiative. You can learn more about The LIBRE Initiative by visiting their website at www.thelibreinitiative.com , liking their facebook page “The LIBRE Initiative” or following them on twitter @libreinitiative