President Rodrigo Duterte revealed that he told Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that he thinks he is about to cross the Rubicon between the Philippines and United States, at least within his term. This is what he told the Malacañang reporters on September 26.
Duterte later explained that he was about to go to a “point of no return” in the relations between the two countries, but clarified that this did not mean “cutting ties” with the US. He added that he would open up economic alliances with Russia and China.
Facebook user Bernard Ong, whose thoughts and Facebook posts we have shared on Memebuster, tries to portray just what happened to Venezuela after its former leader Hugo Chavez came to power and served as president from 1999 to 2013. According to Ong, Chavez also crossed his Rubicon.
He deemed what’s happening in Venezuela now as important lessons for the Philippines and shared three photos that depicted just how much damage Chavez made in his country.
Ong enumerated 10 things that Chavez did as Venezuelan president:
“1. He promised “order” and a “strong hand to fight crime & corruption”
2. His friends, relatives, leftists & military cronies took key positions in government
3. He amended the constitution, giving himself greater powers; abolished existing checks and balances, congress & the judiciary; giving the military a major role in governance
4. He launched his paper, own radio show & TV show – where he mixed socialist rhetoric with songs & jokes
5. He alienated the Church
6. He waged war against “oligarchs” declaring “being rich is bad”
7. He nationalized companies in key industries – oil, finance, telecoms, transport, power
8. He demonized the US
9. He aligned with Russia, bought billions in arms from them
10. He allowed China to take over large areas of the economy”
Ong asked if this sounded familiar, seeing as how Duterte seemed to be doing some of the things Chavez did. He added that this is because Chavez is the “template of modern-day socialist dictator wannabes.”
Ong also summarized Chavez’ run as president – getting reelected a number of times and even getting back to power after a coup.
During his time, Venezuela was a major exporter of oil and was enjoying the high oil prices then. The profits the country got from selling oil financed Chavez’ social welfare programs, which got him more support from the people.
However, Ong noted that despite the oil bonanza, Chavez “mismanaged” the Venezuelan economy and the following things happened:
“1. He imposed currency controls to prevent capital flight. – This policy prevented companies from buying equipment, supplies & raw materials, eventually leading to shortages in production.
2. He imposed price controls – This policy drove local suppliers stop producing just as imports were scarce due to currency controls. This led to shortages & inflation.
3. His government spent far more than it could afford – This policy caused Venezuela to run huge fiscal deficits & incur heavy debts when oil prices collapsed from $120+ per barrel in 1998 to $60 in 2015.”
Chavez did not respect policy and instead insisted that he was right and the world should adjust to his view, Ong noted.
This led to Venezuela’s collapse today.
Venezuelans are now suffering from shortages on food, gasoline, energy, and medicines, which further worsened the crime rates in the country.
Inflation is expected to get worse. Ong simplified it by saying: P1 today in 2016 will soon be worth P0.6 in 2017.
Poverty has hit 75% of the Venezuelan population.
And the only person who has benefited the most from Chavez’ rule? His daughter, Maria Gabriela Chavez, who is reportedly the richest Venezuelan today with $4.2 billion saved overseas.
Ong said that in the Philippines, it was the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., who crossed the Rubicon when he declared Martial Law, which led to his family’s plunder and the decline of the Philippine economy.
This is why Ong wanted he Philippines to pay attention whenever a leader says that he too is about to cross his Rubicon, as Duterte has said. He concluded his post with this reminder:
“The next time a leader says he is crossing his Rubicon, do your homework – check the policy implications, do the math, think steps & years ahead. If it does not make sense, step back from the abyss. Your country will need you to help clean up the mess after the disaster.”