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Venezuela crisis explained! Rising oil prices, currency hyperinflation, & unrest in Caracas has led to the economy’s collapse under Nicolas Maduro’s rule. Here’s everything you need to know about Venezuela.
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Number 9 Why Did It Happen?
You might wonder how a country with the largest proven oil reserve in the world and one of the longest-standing democracies in South America has reached such socioeconomic turmoil. It began with the presidency of Hugo Chavez, in 1998. Rising oil prices had made Venezuela rich and Chavez took advantage of the opportunity to launch a series of social programs called the Bolivarian Missions. These programs were funded by oil production, Venezuela’s main source of income. As such, when prices plummeted, in the context of lack of investment and maintenance for oil production, the economy took a heavy blow.
Chavez, Maduro and their supporters have blamed the United States and the country’s business elite for Venezuela’s collapse. The US imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company in 2011, but trade continued as normal as the measure was more symbolic in nature.
Maduro formed his own assembly, the Constituent Assembly of Venezuela, under irregular voting conditions. He called for a re-write of the constitution and consolidated power around him. Maduro was re-elected in 2018 in a widely disputed process, where the elections were called prematurely, held without international observation and marked by intimidation tactics.
By the end of 2018, prices were doubling every 19 days and the annual inflation had reached 1,300,000%. It’s expected to go up to 10,000,000 by the end of 2019. This has placed basic needs outside the grasp of the majority of Venezuelans. The forecast for unemployment rates in 2019 is 44%.
Number 5 Food and Water
Almost three quarters of Venezuela’s food is imported. As oil prices dropped in 2014, imports were no longer viable. According to some reports, close to 8 million Venezuelans didn’t have enough to eat. In 2016, almost three quarters of the population had lost on average 19.4 pounds due to improper nutrition. A series of blackouts in 2019 also caused shortages in water distribution. In the weeks after the blackouts, almost 20 million Venezuelans were left partially or completely without water.
Number 4 Healthcare
9 out of 10 medical centers had only 7% of the necessary supplies in the early days of the Maduro presidency.
Number 2 Exodus
Under the Chavez and Maduro presidencies millions of citizens have emigrated from Venezuela into neighboring countries. Another 1.9 million are expected to do so throughout the remainder of 2019. Most have gone to neighboring countries such as Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia, especially. Some, known as “los caminantes” or “the walkers” choose to leave by foot. They walk more than 350 miles to Bogota while others walk hundreds of miles further to Peru or Ecuador.
Number 1 Rufo Chacon
The attack on 16-year-old Rufo Chacon, on July 2, 2019, is perhaps the clearest example of the country’s current degradation.