Even while surrounded by military dictatorships and poverty, Venezuela at one time prospered with a strong economy and stable society. Today, three Latin American nations produce more oil than Venezuela, though it has the world’s largest proven reserves of crude, and just getting sick is nearly the same as death for some children. It has rightly been called the “biggest economic disaster in modern history.”
“Hospital shortages,” says the headline of an Agence France-Presse story posted on Yahoo News in late May, are “a death sentence for Venezuelan children.” Half of the children who aren’t dying can’t get enough to eat.
Meanwhile, “OPEC Founder Venezuela Pumps Less Oil Than Three of Its Neighbors,” according to Bloomberg News.
“Venezuela, which sits atop more oil than Saudi Arabia, has fallen behind” Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico, says Bloomberg. This has happened even though Venezuela has more than 302 billion barrels of reserves, Colombia 1.96 billion barrels.
Poor to nonexistent health care and an inability to take advantage of its most abundant natural resource are just two among a growing list of problems confronting the Venezuelan people. Its economy is sinking.
In the third quarter of 2018 the GDP retreated 22.5% over the previous year. The economy contracted by more than half from the third quarter of 2013 to the third quarter of 2018. Venezuelans suffer from shortages of food, water, medication, and consumer goods. Property rights have been weakened, corruption is rampant, as is violent crime, and blackouts are common. When there is food on the shelves it’s rationed by government.
The inflation rate recently exceeded 130,000%. The International Monetary Fund figures the inflation for 2018 was was 929,797%. Venezuela’s currency is virtually worthless.
No one should be surprised millions — 2.7 million in the last four years — have fled.
In 1950, under a military dictatorship that would last another nine years, Venezuela had the fourth-richest economy in the world on a per capita basis. By 1982 it was still the richest nation in Latin America.
Today it’s reverted to Third World status.
These are not fresh revelations. The country’s collapse has been widely documented, as has the direct cause of the collapse (socialism), though not as widely, as the left-leaning media tends to leave out that part because it doesn’t fit its agenda.
Nevertheless, it needs to be said often to drive home the point. Socialism kills. It has ruined Venezuela through price controls, the nationalization of industries, wealth redistribution, and an expansion of the raw power of government. Foreign investment has been driven out, the profit motive robbed. Opponents of the regime are imprisoned. “Government-backed Red-Shirts,” says the Washington Examiner, “have beaten and murdered anti-government protesters with impunity.”
None of these are practices in a free market, or liberal, economy. Or of systems based on limited government. Socialism is an illiberal, opportunistic scheme designed to enable its implementors. Remember this the next time a Democratic candidate speaks.
Editor’s note: The editorial has been updated to correct the spelling of Colombia.
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