Despotism: U.S. should strive to help embattled citizens

Promoters of socialism often promise paradises that turn out to be bottomless pits of misery. Even questioning the totalitarian regimes can be dangerous.

Central and South America are proving to be incubators of repression and economic want because of socialism. In Venezuela, which should be prosperous because of its enormous oil resources, inflation is astronomical. A 100,000-bolivar note is barely enough to buy a cup of coffee.

Nearby Nicaragua is worse. The economy is crashing there, too. And President Daniel Ortega is up to his old tricks of using torture and murder to stay in power. Journalists have been targeted, should they dare to report the truth.

United Nations observers have described the repression in detail. Ortega’s reaction was to kick them out of the country.

Back in Venezuela, citizens are fleeing the situation by the thousands. In fact, tens of thousands cross into Colombia every day; while hundreds more enter Brazil daily. That isn’t doing much for the economies in those countries.

“The wave of migrants and refugees that are crossing over now are people that are most affected by the economic crisis. And in many cases, they’re selling off all of their assets,” Geoff Ramsey, assistant director for Venezuela at the Washington Office on Latin America, told NPR. “And they find out that it’s not worth much. It amounts to pocket change because hyperinflation has wracked the Venezuelan economy. So they’re desperate.”

U.S. policy should do nothing to harm the people of countries victimized by violent socialism, of course. But it should do all in our power to free them from despotism.