What Happened to Venezuela?
By Krista S.W.
A once stable country has gone down in shambles.
Venezuela was one of the world’s most prosperous countries. Well-known for its vast oil supply, its economy was the wealthiest in all of Latin America. Workers were well-paid, and there was access to healthcare and food. But its status has changed, and the country has not been doing well at all—with extremely high rates of crime and poverty. This leads back to the question: What happened to Venezuela?
Looking at its timeline, Venezuela’s status has been declining for years, but it wasn’t until Nicolás Maduro’s election that things got even worse. He won the 2013 election by 1.6 percentage points and filled in for the late Hugo Chávez. Chávez was a socialist, and Maduro made a promise to uphold his policies. This eventually led to more harm than good. One of Chávez’s policies was controlling prices to make goods accessible to the poor. This caused prices to be lowered to really cheap rates, and businesses did not make much of a profit.
Maduro has been blamed by many for this situation and some people have called their small food intake “the Maduro diet.” It has gotten so bad that it is now considered a humanitarian crisis. Residents are starving and violence has become the norm. Restaurant robberies and carjackings aren’t uncommon, and criminals have been shot for their actions. Now, imagine waiting in line for hours at a supermarket or looking through bags of trash for food. These situations occur in Venezuela, and in 2017, Venezuelans lost an average of 24 pounds.
Inflation is also a big problem. In a year, the inflation rate rose to 1,300,000%. Prices double every 19 days, and around 90% of Venezuelan households have little money for food. The currency—the bolivar—has become worthless. Although, the government has taken zeros off the old bolivars to make new bolivars with less cash. Two coins have been newly minted as well.
Since 2014, more than three million Venezuelans have emigrated from the country, with most immigrating to neighboring countries like Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil. Some have moved for greater access to healthcare; the number of healthcare professionals in Venezuela has decreased. The U.S Department of State has issued a Level 4 warning, advising Americans to not travel to Venezuela. Measles outbreaks are occurring, and cases of malaria are at an all-time high. There have been protests and calls for a new government, however, critics have been jailed for doing so.
Maduro was reelected once again in 2018. Some people still support him, but there are many that are fed up with the current circumstances and want things to get better. Venezuela has the possibility of repairing itself, but it will take years before the country sees a significant improvement in terms of status.