The left-wing government of Venezuela has applied socialist policies which have been cheered on enthusiastically by Western followers, most of all Jeremy Corbyn.
Venezuela is the latest country to have followed that path. When I was growing up in South America in the Seventies, Venezuela was a place people wanted to emigrate to.
Now it is in meltdown, with inflation at nearly 800 per cent, blackouts, shortages and documented cases of death from hunger.
What went wrong? The usual thing.
A left-wing government applied socialist policies, cheered on enthusiastically by Western fellow travellers, above all Jeremy Corbyn.
Hugo Chavez, the firebrand revolutionary who was elected in 1999 after an unsuccessful coup attempt was, the Labour leader said, an “inspiration to all of us fighting back against austerity and neo-liberal economics in Europe”.
That was in 2013, after Chavez had changed the constitution to award himself near autocratic powers, closed down critical media and put in place a command economy whose dire consequences were already becoming visible.
Seumas Milne, now Corbyn’s press spokesman, wrote in the Guardian of how: “Venezuela and its Latin American allies have demonstrated it’s no longer necessary to accept a failed economic model, as many social democrats in Europe still do.”
Union boss Len McCluskey saw Venezuela as a country that the rest of us should copy. “Europe might want to learn the obvious lessons from Venezuela,” he said.
Diane Abbott agreed that Venezuela showed “another way” of doing politics.