Leopoldo López is one of many political prisoners in Venezuela, locked away in a military prison because of dissenting words and ideas. His letter, published in the Wall Street Journal, carries a warning for all Americans. After nearly a year in prison, he wrote:

Venezuela’s road to ruin was paved years ago by a movement to dismantle basic human rights and freedoms in the name of an illusory vision of achieving greater good for the masses through the centralization of power.

When the current ruling party took power, it promised to lift the masses out of poverty by providing them with food, housing, and security. So that everyone could have employment and health benefits, “human rights” the government leaders said, were “a luxury, not a necessity.”

Fifteen years later, the checks and balances of Venezuela’s government have completely eroded. The executive is allowed to “rule by decree,” even to the point of imprisoning a judge for upholding the law. The Venezuelan Constitution became meaningless.

Those who disagreed were silenced. In fact, López is just one of many dissenters who were arrested. Independent news outlets were shut down. “The competition of ideas that could have led to better decisions and policies” was purposely stifled.

But weren’t the sacrifices worth it? Was the government successful in eradicating poverty?

Not so fast. López writes that the poor have gotten even worse “by every measure”:

Inflation, at more than 60%, is rampant. Scarcity of basic goods has led to empty shelves and long lines. Violent crime is skyrocketing and the murder rate is the second highest in the world, behind only Honduras. The health-care system is collapsing. And many financial experts are predicting a default on the country’s debts in a matter of months.

It’s a sobering picture. One that began with rhetoric that has become prevalent in these United States as well.

But don’t worry. Political leaders and the mainstream media tell us they’ll take care of everything we need. All we have to do is go along with the program – hand over the education of our children to bureaucracies, fork over large percentages of our income to pay for programs we didn’t approve, and let the government make decisions about our medical care, how we run our businesses, and what we do with our land.

Citizens who’d rather think for themselves risk harassment by law enforcement, surveillance of their personal activity, and penalties from tax collection agencies. The suppression of rights for a few is necessary, they say, in order to bring prosperity to the many. Sometimes you have to cut your losses.

Well, how’s that working out in Venezuela? Liberty was traded for security. Now, they have neither. I urge you to read López’ whole letter yourself – it speaks powerfully to the consequences of a lawless government that ignores the Constitution and basic liberties.

Is this where we want to be in a decade?

Photo credit: Tonkin image / Shutterstock.com

About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

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