August 6, 2007
Venezuela's economy is undergoing a sweeping transformation under President Hugo Chávez, as the state establishes thousands of new cooperatives and takes over companies. The Washington Post discussed the changes with the minister of planning and development, Jorge Giordani.
Q: Is there concern in Venezuela over the lack of foreign investment?
A: That's the story we've had here the last 8 years. It's not designed like that . . . The question now is how to construct a new society, that's the challenge we Venezuelans now have.
Q: But does Venezuela want foreign investment?
A: Let them come and they'll find things. What is a normal profit in a developing country, 7 or 8 percent, here they want to earn that in a year, in six months. We cannot permit capital that's not regulated.
Q: Why have foreign companies stopped investing?
A: You'll have ask them.
Q: Can the economy be sustained without foreign investment?
A: That question carries an implicit hypothesis that you will have to negate yourself. It's an affirmation that's charged. Analyze it yourself. . . . We've already seen that failure at the end of the 1980s, when following those rules (meaning free market reforms) look what happened. The logic of the mechanisms of capitalism are monopolistic, concentrating wealth.
Q: What do you mean by concentrating?
A: The concentration of a few companies that dominate the world market.
Q: That concentrating goes how far?
A: It's everywhere. The worst of it is it's a destructive logic, my friend. That's the most dangerous thing we face. They're not the ones that are going to be destroyed. The 6 billion inhabitants of this land are going to be destroyed. It's an inherently destructive logic.
Q: What is the role of cooperatives in the economy?
A: It's to create a social economy made dynamic by oil revenues and that can create spaces where that production is distributed in a much more fair way. And that we leave behind what we had for the last 40 years. That the riches now stay here.
Q: Will foreign companies remain welcome in the country?
A: As long as they respect, as all Venezuelans have to respect, the nation's laws and our Constitution. . . . If they're committed to overthrowing the state, we will not permit them to be here.
Q: What is this economic system in Venezuela?
A: Socialism is founded on the logic of work, and not on the exploitation of work. That comes from classic economics. When workers work extra hours in the capitalist system that work is distributed based on an economic rationale. What has to be overcome is for that work to be distributed to found a new type of society that's more just, more equal, more free and more democratic.
Q: Has capitalism failed?
A: Of course. Not only has it failed but the danger is that perhaps we won't have time to move to other planets and that we'll destroy the 6 billion people who live over this earth.