American Consequences - August 2020

THE GREAT AMERICAN Earlier that week, the Venezuelans, anxious to show off their oil, flew me and my crew in an old heavy plane – complete with open windows – to the middle of the Orinoco region that provided so much excitement for Goldman when Chavez assumed power. The plane looked a lot like the broken-down penguin plane in the popular kids movie Madagascar ... I consider myself lucky to have made it to and from the Orinoco Basin in one piece.

bringing his colorful historical analysis back even further than in prior speeches. I sighed. Outside, street vendors hawked Chavez- embossed trinkets, snow-globes, and keychains. Everywhere you went, from suburban towns to city centers, supporters had plastered posters on street corners, billboards, and bus stops depicting the country’s leader in a bright red button-down shirt. “Well, apparently you chose the right color, Trish.” I joked to myself and stared down at my red patent-leather high heels that matched my skirt-suit... the same suit I’d worn the day before, and the day before that, and the day before that. When you consider what Chavez and his successor, Nicolas Maduro, stand for... it’s an important parallel to the direction that many in this country would like to take the United States of America. It was time to cut my losses and head back to the States. Still, that trip was enlightening. When you consider what Chavez and his successor, Nicolas Maduro, stand for... it’s an important parallel to the direction that many in this country would like to take the United States of America.

In 2006, foreign oil companies – including some major American energy companies – were still trying to turn this thick, heavy, tar-like crude into a refined product ready for widespread use. I remember holding a full cup of the unrefined sludge in my hand, turning it upside down, and not a drop spilling out! It was clear Venezuela desperately needed both technology and foreign investment to get the oil out of the ground and to refine it... But Chavez – apparently fearing that the Europeans and Americans were getting too good a deal – soon forced all foreign oil companies out of the country. With no brain power from abroad, no technology, and no equipment to extract the oil, the country’s only real revenue source was about to dry up. HOW TO RUIN A STRONG ECONOMY Nearly 15 years later, Venezuela has been transformed...

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August 2020

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