We’ve spent this week poking through the curious professional history of American economist Mark Weisbrot, who’s been a loyal supporter of the destructive socialist policies of Venezuela and Argentina.
Back in 2008, Francisco Rodríguez, a Venezuelan economist who teaches at Wesleyan University and serves as Chief Andean Economist for Merrill Lynch, called out Weisbrot on his shameless shilling for Venezuela’s then president Hugo Chávez, charging that Weisbrot’s claim that inequality, poverty, and illiteracy had declined dramatically under the caudillo was “based on the use of heavily slanted data and on the misinterpretation of the existing empirical evidence.” We won’t soft-pedal this one: Rodriguez’s paper, which was entitled “How Not to Defend the Revolution: Mark Weisbrot and the Misinterpretation of Venezuelan Evidence,” definitively refuted absolutely everything Weisbrot had written about Venezuela up to that time, and aptly described the approach Weisbrot has followed ever since in his propaganda about the economic policies formulated in Caracas and Buenos Aires.
As the whole world now knows, the policies that Venezuela has followed – and that Weisbrot helped formulate – have made Venezuela look increasingly like Castro’s Cuba. And Argentina isn’t so very far behind on the road to disaster. But why should this trouble Weisbrot? By all indications, he’s as much of a fan of Castro as he was of Chávez and Nestor Kirchner. In a December 2014 op-ed, he celebrated President Obama’s new opening to Cuba, triumphantly trumpeting the fact that Fidel Castro had survived “11 U.S. presidents, at least eight CIA plots to assassinate him, and a few premature obituaries,” and had lived “to see the world’s most powerful country finally give in and recognize – in principle, at least – Cuba’s right to national self-determination.”
Some of us, of course, might find “national self-determination” an odd phrase to use to describe a country ruled by a dictator – a country whose government denies its citizens basic human rights, imprisons them for criticizing its policies, prevents them from traveling abroad and denies them Internet access. Then there are cases such as that of the heroic democracy activist Oswaldo Payá, who died in a 2012 “car accident” obviously staged by the Castro regime, and whose equally brave daughter Rosa María Payá, when testifying before the U.N. Human Rights Council, has been slammed by Cuba’s representative to that body as a “mercenary.”
But such is the “economics” of Mark Weisbrot. So what if Venezuela and Argentina, by following policies of which he heartily approves, “evolve” (as he would put it) into countries in which the cars will one day be dilapidated old wrecks, the buildings will eventually look like ancient ruins, and the people will be plagued daily by shortages of every imaginable staple? At least they’ll be “free” – like Castro’s Cuba – from the evil stranglehold of American capitalism.