On March 31, the PanAm Post published an opinion article by David Unsworth titled “The Venezuelan Regime’s Puppet Extraordinaire: Mark Weisbrot, America’s Worst Economist.” Unsworth’s conclusion about Weisbrot, a long-time academic apologist for Chavista misrule in Venezuela, summarizes the article’s main argument perfectly:
As Venezuela descends further into a dictatorship of starvation with each passing day, Mark Weisbrot remains surprisingly silent on his support for the Venezuelan regime and their economic policies. No Mark. This is not the economy of Greece or Spain. It is far worse. The apocalypse that you assured us would never come, is here.
How do you turn Latin America’s wealthiest economy into its poorest in just one generation? The answer: socialism.
After receiving a complaint— and the threat of a lawsuit— from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a left-wing think tank headed by Weisbrot which claimed that, in his piece, Unsworth suggested that Weisbrot’s opinions were influenced by direct payments from the Venezuelan regime, the PanAm Post decided to remove the article from our website. We cannot prove with certainty whether or not Weisbrot has been directly financed by Hugo Chávez or Nicolás Maduro. However, we also cannot prove whether or not Weisbrot has received funding from agents acting on behalf of the Venezuelan regime or from institutions financed by Venezuela or its unsavory allies such as Cuba or Iran. As Unsworth wrote in his article,
(Weisbrot’s) close associate Deborah James, for example, is the former executive director of the innocuous-sounding Venezuela Information Office. In fact the VIO was a Chavez-funded propaganda operation intended to promote the wondrous achievements of Venezuela’s glorious socialist revolution, and lobby Congress on Venezuela’s behalf.
Beyond the issue of whence Weisbrot procures his daily bread, which is not in the least in the PanAm Post‘s interests, the fact is that Unsworth’s intention in writing about “America’s worst economist” was to emphasize the disastrous nature of Weisbrot’s “‘predictions’ about the wondrous future of Venezuelan Communism.” Not only did Weisbrot claim that the Maduro regime would never face a balance-of-payment crisis, but he also discarded the possibility of hyperinflation in Venezuela and ruled out the collapse of the country’s currency as well as the possibility of massive food shortages. Today, however, the Venezuelan regime faces serious difficulties paying its foreign debt while its citizens endure hyperinflation, a currency so devalued “it no longer fits in wallets“, and massive shortages of food and medicine. In other words, if economists could be sued for malpractice, as Unsworth writes, “there is surely no economist in America more deserving of such treatment than Mark Weisbrot.”
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By removing Unsworth’s article from the PanAm Post‘s website, we apologize to Weisbrot if any reader was led to believe that his disastrously mistaken economic predictions were due to venality and not to his mere professional incompetence. We now request his apology to the people of Venezuela for facilitating the Chavista obliteration of their country, petty as his role as a useful idiot may have been. We won’t hold our breath in expectation, however; saying “sorry” for the damage they cause is hardly the 21st Century Socialists’ bread and butter.