Choose, Venezuela: Property Rights or Totalitarianism

“The International Property Rights Index conveys the direct relationship between property rights and economic development,” Lorenzo Montanari explained. (PanAm Post)

EspañolThe past six years have seen 2,549 documented violations of private property at the hands of the Venezuelan state, and 42,351 invasive audits in 2013. Combine that with 77,000 companies closing in the last year alone, and you know why Venezuela occupies 97th spot — last place — on the International Property Rights Index (IPRI), developed by the Property Rights Alliance.

The IPRI ranking measures the application of this individual right in 131 countries around the world — the judicial and political environment as it pertains to physical and intellectual property — although only 97 of the countries have enough data to be ranked.

The IPRI scale goes from zero (worst) to 10 (best), and in the 2014 edition, Venezuela scores 3.2, even lower than Nigeria, Burundi, and Bangladesh. Other Latin-American nations, Paraguay and Honduras, occupy the 89th and 78th spots, while Chile and Uruguay are in 24th and 36th, respectively.

On Tuesday, October 28, liberal policy institute Cedice Libertad took a closer look at what went into the results. As part of the event, they invited Lorenzo Montanari, executive director of Property Rights Alliance, and sociologist Isabel Pereira to speak.

Perhaps in an attempt to be upbeat, Montanari highlighted gender equality: “Venezuela has one of the highest levels of protection for women and their social rights.” Similarly, he pointed out that Hondurans, with the Zones for Employment and Economic Development (ZEDE), have their eyes on a new development model that assures political and functional autonomy to strengthen property rights.

Military-State Intimidation

“Price and exchange controls, in addition to attacks against private property via expropriations and nationalization, are against the property rights of citizens,” declared Cedice Libertad researcher Luis Alfonso Herrera.

In particular, Herrera said that the military presence during the expropriations, rather than civil authority, delivers a more ominous and permanent threat to owners.

“Property rights are human rights,” however; and they “have not ceased to exist with Maduro’s presidency.”

He believes the destructive interventionist approach of Venezuela’s socialist regime simply must be turned around. For that to happen in a long-term manner, education on both property rights and the rule of law is so important, to raise people’s expectations.

It’s Science: Incentives Matter

Isabel Pereira Pizani, coordinator of the Public Policy Unit of Cedice Libertad. (PanAm Post)

Isabel Pereira of Cedice’s Public Policy Unit shared that, beyond generating wealth, ownership deepens the cultural roots and human values of citizens in a country. “Why are our young people emigrating? Because Venezuela does not offer them opportunities for personal achievement.”

“In Venezuela, there are 773,000 disengaged young people who do not run companies nor seek employment. How do we incentivize them if there is not any guarantee of economic reward in the country? How do we incentivize a young population in an unproductive Venezuela?”

“The challenge for Venezuelans is to embrace the defense of liberty and with it, property rights — either that or permit totalitarianism to take hold.”

Translated by Adriana Peralta. Edited by Fergus Hodgson.

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