The absence of simplicity
While I respect the analysis and specific explanations posited here for the collapse into authoritarianism in Venezuela, waffling on American economic imperialism and political destruction of democracy in other countries is inexcusable.
The Venezuela situation is the product of, as noted, gross impoverishment of the population, capitalist corruption, weak administration, and imperialist manipulation. The Bolivarian revolution was, initially, an example of the democratic socialism placing power directly in the hands of the communities with, in 2002, one of the best democratic elections cycles on the planet.
This was anathema to the American/EU led neoliberal imperial system. While it upset the neoliberal dominated planetary elite it enraged the capitalist ideologues in Washington. Democracy has never been allowed in the Americas. The natural resources of Central and South America are owned by corporate America. Nothing can be allowed to disrupt that and redistribution of national assets to the owners of those assets is forbidden.
As long as properly authoritarian government carefully protects corporate rule and keeps the population working with slightly better than subsistence incomes, corruption among the national elite is ignored. This was worked out over 150 years and worked unless democracy set in with socialist ideals. Survival of that state would be made nearly impossible by international controls and sanctions in order to regain control of important national resources.
No important national resources other than bananas? Then let them suffer. If United Fruit could get control then go for it.
I’ve just did a lot of history in a short space. While I am by no means an historian of the Americas this is the pattern for the rise of late stage capitalist domination.
Just to be clear market economics has been a tremendous created of wealth over the last four hundred years. It’s success is distinct from capitalism as it evolved in North America and is very distinct from late stage, predatory capitalism that is the heart of the US for the last fifty years. Modern capitalist imperialism does require continuous consumption and labor masses hence the benefits need to trickle down to the extent that this maintains growth. But all of that is now invalid as sacrificing all for the growth of capital and it’s oligarchic owners is a death sentence for human civilization.
This is what makes the knee jerk reaction to Venezuela’s effort to hold its assets for its people, however poorly managed, not just a crime but an unforgivable sin. The fact that the late imperial rule of the planet has collapsed into a low grade tragicomedy simply adds massive insult to the injury of millions of people.
And, you are correct, the most immediate danger is allowing low grade authoritarians to pander to the anger and anguish of the exploited population by promising fake solutions while fostering the very corruption that created the disaster.
These situations are not simple. Almost no side of this multi-sided disaster is fully good or evil. That works, ironically, to foster the confusion that is the well learned tool of 20th century authoritarian/totalitarian systems of control and exploitation.
Nothing is simple when the old paradigm fails.