Many politicians and media pundits criticize our capitalistic system of government and lure people into believing socialist policies will promote a safe and prosperous society. Listen to one who has lived under a socialist regime as Linda interviews...
Many politicians and media pundits criticize our capitalistic system of government and lure people into believing socialist policies will promote a safe and prosperous society. Listen to one who has lived under a socialist regime as Linda interviews Jorge Galicia, a lawyer and freedom advocate who fled persecution in Venezuela for speaking against the systematic decline of the country’s economy and citizen’s quality of life. Jorge shared the steps that led to the collapse of their prosperous economy and the erosion of their freedoms. He hopes to educate American citizens so the USA will not become like the country he left.
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Linda J. Hansen
Welcome. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the Prosperity 101 Breakroom Economics Podcast. My name is Linda J. Hansen. Your host and the author of Prosperity 101 - Job Security Through Business Prosperity: The Essential Guide to Understanding How Policy Affects Your Paycheck, and the creator of the Breakroom Economics online course. The book, the course, and the entire podcast library can be found on Prosperity101.com. I seek to connect boardroom to breakroom and policy to paycheck by empowering and encouraging employers to educate employees about the public policy issues that affect their jobs.
My goal is to help people understand the foundations of prosperity, the policies of prosperity, and how to protect their prosperity by becoming informed, involved, and impactful. I believe this will lead to greater employee loyalty, engagement, and retention and to an increased awareness of the blessings and responsibilities of living in a free society. Listen each week to hear from exciting guests and be sure to visit Prosperity101.com.
One can hardly turn on a newscast or scroll through a social media feed without being bombarded by the many -isms that vie for attention in our culture. I'm sure you've heard all the terms – communism, socialism, capitalism, and more. Advocates for each type of system claim theirs is best. But which one is the best for you and your family.
In America, we have operated under a free-market capitalist economy, which supports the idea of unlimited opportunity for everyone. This is what has been known as the American Dream. This dream of freedom draws millions of people from around the world towards our nation. People will risk their lives to reach our country with a hope of making a better life for themselves and their family. It is a system in which everyone, regardless of background, can rise if they are willing to work hard. There are no guarantees of income, but there are guarantees of freedom.
History provides examples of countries with economic systems that promised prosperity, but eventually delivered poverty and devastation. When that happens, the people often desire to flee to a place where they sense opportunity and freedom. My guest today fled to a place where he sensed opportunity and freedom. My guest today is Jorge Galicia, and he is a former resident of Venezuela. He's still a Venezuelan citizen, but he's been here in the US. And he is going to share with us his preference for his -ism that he has chosen. So, Jorge, thank you so much for being with us today on the podcast.
Hello, Linda. How are you? Thank you for having me on. It is an incredible honor to be here today. And yes, well, as you said, I came from Venezuela four years ago already. And I came here because – not because I – you know, I wanted to because I wanted to do tourism, to go to Disneyland. I came here because I was forced, basically.
In Venezuela, I am an attorney. I went to law school, and I was a political activist. I was basically advocating for the recovery of our democracy, of our republic, with our individual liberties, which basically we lost since 1999 when we first elected, Hugo Chávez, our president. And because of all that activism, I suffered political persecution. One of my best friends in the year 2017 was captured by the political police in Venezuela, because of all of our peaceful political activism. And well, that situation forced me to go into hiding for a long period of time.
This time, of course, since he was taken by police, we were part of the same team, we were part of the same, you know, political party, we were doing the same things. And of course, I was also in danger of being captured by the police. So, I needed to disappear really quickly. I was sent into a religious place in Venezuela. Of course, I'm not allowed to reveal a lot of information about that place and of the names nor the location, and not even the religion because I didn't want to compromise the safety of these people. But I was staying there. I was totally isolated. I needed to shut down all of my social media accounts. All of my – I needed to turn off complete my cellphone. It was a completely life-changing event for me and my whole family, of course.
And well, thanks to those events, once I was able to resume my ordinary life because my friend was also released after three months, I've managed to finish my Law degree. And once I did that I came here because I was elected to do a Leadership Program at Arizona State University. And once I did that, well, I was that's – the reason I was able to come here to the States, right?
And as you can imagine, I'm not allowed to return to Venezuela anymore, because the circumstances have not changed since the time I left. And I have been pretty, you know, outspoken here in the US. I have been speaking out about the dangers of what – I mean, the situation and the crisis that we're facing in Venezuela and how Maduro and Hugo Chávez basically bankrupt our country, thanks to socialism, thanks to all of these socialist policies that have been imposed to us since 1999. And well, thanks to that activism, I'm certain that, you know, it's incredibly dangerous for me to return to Venezuela because I'm going to end up in prison like my friend.
Linda J. Hansen
Well, thank you for sharing that. And thank you for being willing to speak out against that socialism. When I first met you, I heard your heart for your home country, but also for people that you still have there, family and friends that you're concerned for. And you know, as many people in America are clamoring for socialism, they say capitalism is bad and socialism is the way to go, and the government needs to take care of us. And, you know, there's so many voices out there. Like I mentioned in the intro, so many -isms that vie for our attention and our preference.
However, what are the ones that actually produce prosperity and human flourishing? And you can give us a first-hand account of what socialism does to a country, but also to what it does to people's families and their personal lives, which you've explained a little bit. But as you do that, could you go through a little bit of what things led up to this? You know, things didn't get so bad overnight in Venezuela. Venezuela was once thriving. They were an economic powerhouse. They were a very thriving country, and people had a lot of opportunity. What happened in Venezuela? And what types of warnings can that provide for America?
Yes, that's a really good question. And I think that this is a question that people either in the Right or in the Left gets wrong when they talk about Venezuela. I think, for example, people on the Left say, "Well, Venezuela is doing this bad because of US sanctions," for example, which is nonsense, because the major US sanction against the Venezuelan economy didn't arrive until 2017. And all of this crisis and all of this economic nightmare that we have been going through appeared at least late 2013 and 2014. That's the year when the collapse actually became extremely evident for majority of Venezuelans.
So, when you hear people on the Right, they might say something like, "Yeah, you know, Venezuela was a really vibrant economy. But Hugo Chávez took place and he ruined everything." And that's not exactly how it happened. This process was way longer for us. I would say that our first major step that we gave as a society into socialism didn't – it happened in the year 1975. This was the year when we decided to nationalize our oil industry. It was done all through democratic means. We didn't have a dictatorship back then. It was done through, you know, thanks to decisions of our Venezuelan Government and the Congress. It was all legitimate.
I would say that that's the year when the Venezuelans started to experience all of the problems that we have been experiencing right now. Right? I mean, it's not like it happened from one day to another. This has been a whole process that has – that started decades ago. And why do I say this? Well, because people need to realize that this didn't happen overnight. This is a process that started at least in '75, as I said, when Venezuela decided to nationalize the oil industry.
The state started to grow incredibly. The state started to spend like never before on all kinds of social progress because the government back then decided to solve the "problem" of inequality, and of course, the problem of poverty by creating a bunch of new social programs and subsidies of all kind. Like, for example, they decided to create a social program designed to grant scholarships to any Venezuelans who wanted to pursue the studies at the university level, which means, of course, free college, free health care for everybody. Even gasoline was being subsidized.
And of course, this created an environment where every Venezuelan became so dependent on all of these social programs that were being gifted by the government. And once all of these – once the oil revenue started to decline because the price started to decline as well, this is when the problems became extremely evident. High levels of inflation, you know, the government, the population rejected some reforms that were – when the government decided to try to fix the budget, the population rejected it because society was so, you know, as I said, dependent on all of these social programs. Nobody wanted to hear, you know, that these programs were no longer sustainable. People wanted to keep receiving free stuff out of nowhere.
And this is how the environment was created to Venezuela – for Venezuela to receive someone like Hugo Chávez. Hugo Chávez came from the military. He tried to overtake the government by the use of force, because he was telling people like things like, "Hey, all of you are entitled to all of this social progress and subsidies." And people believed in this message. And of course, since the – because of the political class was actually trying to fix the budget and try to pursue reforms that were pointing in the right direction, Venezuelans rejected these reforms. And Hugo Chávez appeared out of nowhere, tried to overtake the government.
He destroyed our democracy in this process. And well, now, he received a pardon. He never went to trial for any of these. And now we're facing the consequences of that because of the system that he created. He won in the 1988 elections. And ever since then, we have not had a single free and fair election. And it was impossible for us to remove that system. Right?
And I can tell you now that we're talking about what -ism do I prefer, I think it's – I mean, for me, it's pretty obvious, right? I left Venezuela, because of socialist and socialism, you know, socialist policies that I was part of the middle class. I went from being a happy kid with a happy life to being basically broke to the point that I was not even eating properly. I was not even, you know, taking showers properly because there was no water supply in my house, that it was a radical change in my life.
And I saw, again, a radical change in my life once I reached the United States. I have been only four years here, but I have already seen at least the triple or more of the opportunities that I ever saw in my entire life in Venezuela. I have seen all of that – because in for years of me living here in the US, so of course, I prefer, you know, the capitalism and republicanism because I think they those are the systems that actually protect individual liberty. And without individual liberties, you know, life can become so horrible.
Linda J. Hansen
That is such a good point. You know, without individual liberty, life can become horrible. When I first heard you speak previously, you had mentioned about how you didn't have access to proper water. You didn't have access to food. You know, the energy supplies were at risk and, you know, hard for people. And the inflation rates were so high. All these government handout programs were causing such a problem because people were dependent.
But you know, I think it was Margaret Thatcher who said the problem with socialism is eventually you run out of other people's money. And that could be a loose quote but, you know, people forget that the government has nothing until we give it to them first. The government really has nothing. It is just a government. It is just a system. It needs our tax dollars to be able to fund it. And when you start spending more than you take in, eventually the country will fall. And the citizens are the ones who suffer. Usually, the ones in charge, the ones in power, who orchestrated the demise don't suffer as much as the regular citizens. And we're seeing that here in America today.
So, you had mentioned, you know, they took control of the energy. And we're seeing that here in America today. You mentioned the inflation rates were so high. People got dependent on government and like even things like free college. You went into quite a detail about that when I heard you speak recently at a different event. And it just reminded me of right now. You know, people think, "Well, that's a great idea. But is it really? Let's look deeper at that."
You know, all these different things that government can manipulate to really hamper the freedom and flourishing of the citizens and we can look – you know, my mom always told me and I told my kids, "You know, you don't have to make all your own mistakes. Learn from the mistakes of others." So, America should be learning from the mistakes of others, and learn from the mistakes of Venezuela and other countries, who have – really had negative impacts by the socialist policies.
Now, if you are going to advise American citizens who are, you know, trying to decide what they want for our government, like who they should vote for – I'm not really talking about a candidate here. But we're they're talking about the policies to vote for their involvement in our government. What would you tell them?
Well, Linda, that's a really, really good question. I remember what one of – this is an episode that happened to me like just a week after I arrived today to America, right? I took an Uber ride. And this was a lady who – she asked me like, "Hey, I noticed your accent. Where are you from?" And I said to her, "Well, I'm from Venezuela. I just arrived like a week ago." And she said, "Oh, my God. You took the wrong country. We're doing so bad here. You were probably doing so much better in Venezuela." And you know, my eyes popped out. Like, I gave a little speech like, "Well, what are you talking about? You know, you have no idea how blessed you are by being in this nation. You know, even as an Uber driver or whatever you do, you're going to be way better than being, for example, on a journey in Venezuela," which is what I was right.
I think people need to educate themselves more on the actual results of all of these Marxist policies that are being promoted by so many people on the progressive movement. Right? I mean, when you see what happened in Venezuela, what happened in Cuba, what happened with the Soviet Union, what happened with China. I mean, all of the examples end up basically suffering from the same, starvation, massive migration, if the government allows them to migrate in the first place. Right?
But yeah, that would be my advice. Do not – I mean, it is extremely easy to be tempted by these socialist promises. Right? You always – who would be against – I don't know, free college education or free health care, or free housing? It really sounds really good. But when you start to understand how the economy actually works. And when you understand that this – how all the dangers done and how these programs are not sustainable in the long term, that's when you start to worry and take action against this kind of proposal.
So that's, I would – that's would be my suggestion, right? Do not fall for these promises. I would – you know, when it comes to election, I always tried to support the boring candidate who is offering me the less because that's how I know like, "Well, this guy," because I don't want any politician to fix my life. I don't want – I just want to be left alone and be able to work and build my own success, right? I don't need any political party or politician to offer me so many different things because I am confident in my own individual capacities because you know, we are God-created and because of that, we're perfect. I think we can figure it out with God's help and without the help of any corrupt politician. Right?
Linda J. Hansen
Exactly. You know, we really just need government to get out of the way. But, you know, a good role of government is to allow for prosperity. Government cannot create prosperity, but government can allow for prosperity. And by prosperity, I don't just mean making money. You know, I mean, freedom and flourishing, prosperity to raise a family if you so choose, prosperity to, you know, choose your vocation, to choose your education, prosperity to travel, prosperity to own property, prosperity to flourish as a human being and become the best you can be and to rise, the prosperity of opportunity.
You know, you bring up such a good point about you don't want government in the way. You want government to get out of the way, that you want government to leave you alone. And I know you're trying to help many people across the nation, especially young people to understand this and to hear your story, like you mentioned about your Uber driver. You know, people take it for granted here. When you've grown up in America and you hear negative things, some people fall for the lie that socialism will cure all the ills of America.
You know, there is no perfect country. There is no perfect place. There is no perfect person. So, how would we think that there would be any perfect country when we are all imperfect people? So, you know, we – but you mentioned that we're made by God, and we have the opportunity. And, you know, He can provide the wisdom to help us make wise choices. So, you have really decided to get engaged in helping to educate people through a couple of different organizations. Can you tell people what you're doing now to educate young people and really citizens all across the country?
Yeah. So, almost since my arrival, when I noticed that so many people, especially young Americans, were advocating for the very same system that forced me to leave Venezuela, you know, I panicked because I felt like I don't want to go through these all over again. Right? And I became passionate about, you know, speaking out about the truth about socialism, about my own experience, because I feel like this is my way of saying thank you to this country for welcoming me and opening up, you know, your gates for – and allowing me to stay here.
And of course, it is in my own self-interest to keep it this way because as I said, I mean, I've seen so many really good things to do and build. I feel like I'm building something great here in America. And I want to keep doing that. So, yes, I work – thanks God, I was recruited by an organization and a think tank named The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) since I would say three years ago. And since then, they have been promoting these presentations on, you know, the truth about socialism. And, you know, what actually happened to Venezuela as a way to educate young Americans and across the United States.
I visit different, several campuses and, well, I speak about my own experience, and I explain how Venezuela went from being one of the wealthiest nations in the world to what it is today, one of the poorest now. And, of course, I have also – we have established a partnership with Leadership Institute. And they are basically my link between my organization and all of these different campuses. I work also with organizations like Turning Point USA, Young Americans Foundation, Young Americans for Liberty. I mean, a lot of different organizations, all are trying to push for more freedom and for more individual liberty across the campuses in the United States.
And well, that's what I've been doing. And I'll be happy to keep doing that until I have a voice because I feel so many people, not only young Americans, but everybody needs to hear about these messages of – coming from people like me, who escaped these totalitarian regimes, to give this warning, right? Like, "Hey, you know," because it is easy to be deceived by all of the propaganda that the Venezuelan regime or the Cuban regime produced.
A lot of people think like, "Hey, look at Cuba, they have – I don't know – whatever, the best health care system in the world." But when you actually see people are dying on the street because there is no doctor, no supplies to give health care to these people. Right? Like – and I feel like we – as survivors of this regimes, we need to speak out and try to educate as many people as possible of the actual consequences of these systems.
Linda J. Hansen
Well, it's true. Educating people is the big point. And it can be done so much better from someone with firsthand experience like you. You know, it's easy for those of us who've grown up in America to say, "America is the best country." And to see it in that, you know, global perspective. But when you have an experience like you've had and you come to America, you can really say, "America is the best country, you know."
Linda J. Hansen
America is – I've often said, you know, America is the beacon light of freedom for the world. And –
Which, by the way, that doesn't mean that we don't need reforms. I mean, I do believe that there are problems within American economy.
Linda J. Hansen
Like, for example, I do believe health care is extremely expensive. But when you actually analyze what's going on with health care, you realize that it is not because of capitalism but because of government intrusion in this system that has created all kinds of super expensive bureaucracy and protectionism. That's not real capitalism. When I think – we don't need to point for reforms. But we need to point for real capitalism, not for this magical solution that socialists are offering. Right?
Linda J. Hansen
Good point. Good point. And, you know, America is imperfect, just like I mentioned. So, of course, we do need reforms. And I love it that you mentioned that some of the problems that we're seeing are really problems because of the socialist ideologies and the socialist policies that have infiltrated our system of government.
And, you know, our policymakers, our media, and many of our citizens have, you know, swallowed the pill that says, "Oh, government – big government is better." You know, they just believe the lie. And, you know, it's like a frog in a pot of boiling water. You know, that you start out just swimming along, and it seems like it's going to be perfect. But by the time it gets too hot, you can't get out. And, you know, your experience alone showed, you know, you had to flee to protect your life. You had to flee because you spoke out. You didn't just flee because there was economic, you know, difficulties or economic problems. But you fled because you spoke out against the government, and you were no longer safe. So, you didn't even have free speech.
So, as we're seeing a lot of these things change in America, you know, we don't have the same free speech we used to. We don't have, you know, the same energy supply. We don't have the same food supply. We don't have the basic supply chain that we always did. We don't have, you know, the freedom in health care. I mean, boy, that was really clear during COVID. You know, we don't have the same freedom to raise our families the way that we may want.
And so, you know, we have not lost it yet. It has not fallen yet. But, you know, we're approaching the midterms right now. We're recording this right before the November midterms in 2022. And some people will have already voted because it's during the early voting period. Some people won't hear this until after they vote. But these are principles that are timeless. This is something that we need to think about every single election and don't just vote for a personality. Vote for policies. Personalities come and go. Policies outlive those personalities.
And we need to make sure that our citizenry is educated and engaged to protect freedom. So, I really am grateful for what you're doing. I've talked to so many immigrants. I've interviewed some others. And basically, they all tell me, "Please, do not let America become like the country I left." And I hear that from you as well. So, if people would like to get a hold of you, how can they follow you, learn more about where you'll be speaking, what you do? How can they contact you?
Yeah. Of course, you can follow me through my social media accounts, which is @JorgeGalicia95, either Instagram or Twitter. And also, if you are in need of a speaker, you know, my organization will call they're all of the cost for inviting me to speak. So, somewhere, you just need to find me, well, an audience to speak and, you know, the proper place to do it. You won't be charged anything as long as you know, we have the proper audience. But well, that's there. If you find my message interesting and you want to learn a little bit more about Venezuela and what happened to us, well, I will be more than happy to attend anywhere where my voice might be needed. Right? So –
Linda J. Hansen
Could you please give the website of your organization so people could go there and possibly request you as a speaker?
Absolutely, absolutely. That the website for doing that is TFAS.org. That is T as in Tom, F-A-S dot org. And well, you go there, you – there's a form that you fill out and that's it. Basically, it's a really simple process, or you can just contact me through social media, and we can arrange it from there. So, it's not that it's not a big deal. So –
Linda J. Hansen
Very good. Very good. Well, Jorge, thank you so much, again. Listeners, it's Jorge Galicia. And you can reach him on social media through there or go to TFAS.org. T-F-A-S.org and you can request him to be a speaker. But Jorge, thank you. Thank you for being a vibrant part of our American community. We welcome you. We're so thankful you are here.
Thank you for fighting for freedom here in America and around the world, of course. But also, we wish you all the best as you look to complete a citizenship process here in the United States, and also to be able to practice law here. But in the meantime, we're so grateful for what you're doing to really help educate citizens across this country and around the world. So, thank you.
Oh, thank you, Linda. And also, as a final warning, if I may add, I would say now that the elections are coming up, I hope we can release this before the election. But anyway, I think people need to be vigilant about the election process. Don't take it for granted either. That's something that also, I think that was one of our failures in Venezuela. We allow Hugo Chávez to transform our electoral system into something that was no longer reliable.
You know, for example, what we're seeing right now in Brazil, I'm extremely worried about the – you know, we don't know if – I'm not going to say that there was fraud there. But I would say that I cannot trust a company like Smartmatic, for example. Smartmatic, people need to know that this is a Venezuelan company that basically Hugo Chávez selected this company without any kind of competition, without any kind of solicitation process.
I mean, Hugo Chávez basically just forced this company to Venezuela to design the new and modern electoral system, design all by – all of these computers and machines. Nobody really knows how it works. And well, I don't understand how Smartmatic went from being a company that was forced – was basically created by Hugo Chávez and was forced by him into the Venezuelan democracy.
And it became one of the most important industries providing the technology for elections. They are operating here in America, and almost everywhere else in the world, including Brazil. So, I'm not going to say that there was fraud in Brazil or anywhere else. But I will say, "Listen, I cannot trust a company like Smartmatic," because of all of the background that this company. So, be vigilant out there. And yeah, fight for free and fair elections.
Linda J. Hansen
Right. I'm so glad you brought that up, to be vigilant, to be out there and fight for free and fair elections. It is so important, and I'll just put a little plug in for a website. Listeners, please go visit WhosCounting.us, W-H-O-S-C-O-U-N-T-I-N-G dot U-S, WhosCounting.us. And you can learn about election integrity efforts here in the United States, and how to be part of an election integrity task force moving forward because election integrity is truly important.
And we must protect our right to vote, our right to vote in free, fair, and transparent elections. And as Jorge mentioned, it can be lost. I mean, it can be lost very easily. And you know, elections have consequences. Leadership matters. And in our country, we have citizens that are to be the leaders. So, we, the people are still in charge of our nation. I say it often. But the problems we have in our nation now are because citizens did not do our job. We did not step up to the plate and follow the Constitution enough to protect our own freedoms. We are really too complacent. And we have allowed our freedoms to be diminished as a result of our complacency.
So, now is the time to step up so our young people don't have to live a story like Jorge has lived. And a strong America makes for a stronger world. And a freer America makes for a freer world. So, let's help make America very strong and free so that countries like Venezuela can come alongside and they can be strengthened. And Liberty can abound everywhere. So, thank you for bringing that up, Jorge. And again, before we close, I'll just – if you could give your social media information or how to contact you again?
Yeah, again, @JorgeGalicia95 and also, the website to arrange a presentation by me would be TFAS.org. Thank you for having me, Linda, God bless you. And God bless your audience as well.
Linda J. Hansen
Thank you. It's been a pleasure. Thank you so much.
Linda J. Hansen
Thank you again for listening to the Prosperity 101 Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share, and leave a great review. Don’t forget to visit Prosperity101.com to access the entire podcast library, to order my newest book, Job Security Through Business Prosperity: The Essential Guide to Understanding How Policy Affects Your Paycheck, or to enroll you or your employees in the Breakroom Economics online course. You can also receive the free e-book, 10 Tips for Helping Employees Understand How Public Policy Affects Paychecks.
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