By Luis Britto García
Bolivar said in the Angostura Speech: “By deception we have been dominated more than by force.” By deceit the Venezuelan people have been kept under the domination of a cluster of vernacular and foreign interests; Because of ignorance, we have been prevented from having the resources to survive. Dispelling deception, illuminating darkness is the goal of Pasqualina Curcio’s latest book: The Venezuelan Economy: Stories and Truths.
An economic fraud
Every class domination is constituted on an economic, political and cultural fraud. Our original societies in Venezuela were not divided into social classes, except in some cases of incipient stratification. The European invaders articulated a system to live at the expense of the work of the invaded: to convince them that neither they nor their work were worth anything. With variants, the deception lasts until today.
Invitations to suicide
During our history we have suffered under the power of fakers who have repeated the same deception with different ideological instruments. During the Conquest and the Colony, religion preached that we had no soul and that we were minors subjected to tutelage. During the Oligarchic Republic the Enlightened Ideology lied that the poor were not good citizens because they had no property and therefore had no political rights. During the Liberal Oligarchy and the Andean Dictatorships, the positivism of the Indies diagnosed us as barbarians, descendants of “inferior” races, to be replaced by Caucasian immigration. Populisms implanted Developmentalism, according to which in order to get out of backwardness we had to surrender ourselves totally to transnational capital. Let’s see how Pasqualina Curcio refutes so many invitations to suicide.
The laziness tale
The anthological charge that aims to legitimize all exploitation is that of the alleged laziness of Venezuelans. The campaign starts with the chroniclers of the Indies. Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo says: “These people of their nature are idle and vicious, and of little work and melancholy and cowardly, vile and poorly inclined.” López de Gomara also calls the indigenous people “loafers, boasting, vindictive and traitors.” Fray Tomás Ortiz qualifies them as “lazy, thieves, liars and low and nicked judgments.” The downpour of disqualifications reaches the contemporary. Let the reader who has not heard variations on the story raise their hands. Is it true that we are lazy? Pasqualina Curcio shows with precise numbers that from 1920 to 2013 the Venezuelan economy has grown 14,277%. And that between 1976, year of the “nationalization” of the oil industry and 1998, the beginning of the Bolivarian Revolution, the gross domestic product (GDP) increased 76%. She also notes with irrefutable numbers that already in revolution, from 1999 to 2013, the GDP grew 57%, and that if the entire period is taken into account after the nationalization of the oil industry (1976-2013), GDP in Venezuela increased 160%. How is it possible that in a lazy country GDP grows 14,277%. in 99 years?
The tale of monoproduction
When the previous question is posed, the fraudulent justification comes: Ah, because we are a single-product economy, we produce only oil. Here again Pasqualina Curcio summons the figures of the BCV. On average, since 1920, 84% of the total national production is non-oil related, while only 16% is oil related. These figures have fluctuated: from 1920 to 1975, when oil production was private, it generated an average of 41% of the total national product, while non-oil production was higher and represented 59%. After the nationalization of oil, between 1976 and 2018, the country’s production has been on average 15% oil and 85% non-oil. In recent years, the proportion of oil production has decreased: between 1999-2018, it was on average 13.9%, and the year 2012 was only 10.8%.
Foreign investment fraud
Clarifying the basic hoaxes, the others dissolve by themselves. For example, the one that lies that, since we do not work and produce nothing, we must surrender unconditionally to foreign investments. But these have been very modest compared to their huge benefits. As Pasqualina also demonstrates: “According to data taken from the Balance of Payments published by the BCV, since the nationalization of the oil industry in 1976 and until 2018, private foreign investments total US $ 57,562 million. Something like 4.54% with respect to the total oil exports of Venezuela during the same period. Remember also that oil exports represent 98% of total exports and are also in the charge of the public sector. In other words, foreign private investment in Venezuela have been historically marginal.
The central problem
After demolishing many more myths, Pasqualina concludes: “The problem of the Venezuelan economy is not oil, nor the fact that we only export hydrocarbons, of course if exports were diversified we would be less vulnerable to changes in international prices of this product. The central problem of the Venezuelan economy is the use that has been given to oil revenues which have exceeded imports every year, even recently in the framework of an economic war against the people of Venezuela that has involved, among other aspects, the drop in exports.” Recovering that production and that income and giving them a socialist use is everyone’s job.
Translated by JRE/EF
Luis Britto Garcia
Luis Britto García is a Venezuelan writer, playwright and essayist. His fiction has been recognised twice with the Casa de Las Américas Prize, for his works Rajatabla and Abrapalabra. In 2002 he was the winner of Venezuela's National Prize for Literature, given as a lifetime achievement award