I had the impression that the Chavistas had nationalized the Oil industry; I.E. it was essentially a form of revenue for the government, run by the government, etc. Profits went towards social programs, etc. But that does not equate to “full socialism”…
Venezuela nationalized their oil industry long ago, in 1976. However, it was a patronage aspect of the state, and the workers and management of the state oil company grabbed most all of the oil money, leaving little else for anyone else or certainly for state projects.
The state oil company went on strike and shut down production all over the country in an earlier attempt to ruin the economy a few years into Chavez rule. This latest “make the economy scream” project was not the first – there were a few others before which all failed.
Chavez broke the strike by firing all of the striking management and any workers who supported the strike. A lot of the regular workers were kept on. He replaced fired workers with Chavistas, who were all quite qualified. Chavez then turned the state oil company, formerly a vehicle for nothing but patronage and corruption of an upper middle class light skinned elite, into a state oil company the purpose of which was to provide a vehicle for mass wealth redistribution down to the poorer classes via massive government spending projects.
So there’s your Venezuelan socialism: using the state oil company to mass distribute money down to the people in the form of government spending and social spending projects. But this is pretty much what Saudi Arabia, Iran, Libya under Ghaddafi, Russia under Putin, Norway and oil producing countries have done though, so it is bizarre that we flipped out when Chavez did the same thing.
The Chavistas engaged in a lot talk about building socialism, but honestly as a socialist, they never got around to it.
Incidentally, the US-supported strikers caused major damage to the oil industry during this strike via mass sabotage. There was so much equipment destruction that it took years to get the oil industry back online. So another one of their ways to get rid of Chavez was to try to destroy the state oil company through mass sabotage of its equipment. Incidentally, the US government was massively in on the strike and the sabotage.
You can see that the opposition has tried every tactic they can think of, legal and illegal, to take down Chavez. The only difference now is that they seem to have finally succeeded in making the economy scream.
The oil industry management had gotten hugely wealthy off of what amounted to theft from the state oil industry, and after Chavez fired all of them, these formerly well do to people all lost their very lucrative jobs with nothing to replace them with. So this was one very pissed off group of people who are frankly furious that their huge unearned privileges in Venezuelan society had been revoked. Former state oil company employees are one of the major players in the Venezuelan Opposition.