Beginning on January 29, 2018, USCIS changed its scheduling policy for asylum applicants.

For a country with a population of around 32 million, it has been estimated that as many as four million have fled Venezuela during recent years. Why is this? What is causing so many people to abandon the country they were born in and where they would likely want to stay if at all possible?

In 1994, Venezuelan President Rafael Caldera made a grave error in pardoning a criminal, Hugo Chavez, and releasing him from prison after only two years. Although Venezuela at the time was a democracy, with the people having the power to elect their leaders, Chavez had attempted to overthrow the government using a small part of the Venezuelan military that supported him. In this coup attempt, more than 200 people had died. Not only was Chavez pardoned, he was granted full political rights and immunity from prosecution for the deaths of those that had died in the coup.

Hugo Chavez was a man of action, and his actions against the government and subsequent release helped him gain support of those in Venezuela that were not happy with how the government was handling the country. Chavez was also well connected with a certain sector of the military and had been scheming for years about how to overthrow the Venezuelan government and turn the country into a socialist dictatorship, with he and his military friends, including current Venezuelan president Nicholas Maduro, having power over all aspects of the country.

Chavez ran for the office of President of Venezuela, claiming he would revolutionize the country and solve the country’s poverty issues. He used a lot of class warfare in preaching to the poor that they were poor because of the injustice of the country’s systems. He identified the United States as an enemy and another reason for the country’s poverty. He preached that to be rich was evil, and to share everything was the righteous way to live.

Some in Venezuela could see that Chavez would be trouble. Some accused Chavez before he was elected president in 1998 that he would expropriate private businesses and change the government too drastically, causing all to be poor except for the government elite. As a stereotypical politician, Chavez denied these allegations, claiming he would create a Socialism of the 21st Century which would protect necessary ideals of democracy and not fall into corruption as socialist countries had always done in the past.

Unfortunately for Venezuela, Chavez was able to follow through with his “Cubanization” of Venezuela, consolidating power in the executive branch, ignoring the constitution or established rules and procedures, appointing military cronies to positions of power within the government and industry, clamping down on freedom of the press, destroying the country’s free market, and infiltrating the country’s education system with communist propaganda.

There is no way to describe the level of decimation of wealth, lives and human rights caused by Chavez and his fellow worshipers of Fidel Castro and Cuban communism. To fully detail the carnage in Venezuela would take not just one book, but a series of books. Here are just a few notes to consider. Inflation of over 4,000% in 2017. The average Venezuelan lost over forty pounds over the last two years. Shortages of electricity, toilet paper, medicine, and basic food items. All this while Chavez’s daughter holds estimated assets of nearly $4.2 billion dollars. What did Chavez’s daughter do to “earn” this money? She was fathered by an extremely corrupt tyrant that was willing to lie to the poor and destroy a country in order to gain and keep power that he would abuse over and over again.

While the current minimum wage in Venezuela is somewhere between $2 and $4 per month, Chavez’s daughter holds stolen property amounting to an astonishing $1,312.50 from every person in Venezuela. If she cared for the poor as much as her father claimed to care for them, she could return these stolen funds to their rightful owners. Or she could finish one of the many hospital projects Chavez promised to the poor, only to allow allocated public funds (stealing from the poor and rich of Venezuela) to be given to more of his friends or maybe even directly to his daughter. Who knows. Chavez preached that to be rich is evil, only to gain support from the poor, and then robbed the country to turn his daughter into the richest person in Venezuela.

One cannot live without food, or without hope. In a nutshell, to live in Venezuela right now is not an option for many people, thanks to Chavez and his successor Maduro, and those in their circle of friends, made rich through plunder and lies. Chavez forgot to mention one qualifier in his rhetoric to the Venezuelan people – to be rich is evil, if you are rich through the highest levels of corruption that require ignoring the pains, sicknesses and hunger of your own people.