Food and medicine shortages, frequent power blackouts, lack of running water.
Welcome to a day in the life of virtually every citizen of Venezuela, thanks to a failing economy, hyperinflation and an autocratic government whose socialist policies have been an utter disaster.
Just about everyone in the world knows that Venezuela’s socialist model has been a failure. Now, the country’s president has admitted it as well — sort of.
“The production models we’ve tried so far have failed and the responsibility is ours, mine and yours,” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro told members of his ruling congressTuesday.
While Maduro may have admitted failure, he’s still not necessarily taking the blame. He believes (or at least tells his citizens) that many of the country’s economic problems stem from the U.S. “empire” trying to undermine his administration through military intimidation and economic sanctions.
“Enough with the whining… we need to produce with or without (outside) aggression, with or without blockades, we need to make Venezuela an economic power,” Maduro said. “No more whining, I want solutions comrades!”
Maduro said he will no longer blame the U.S. for his country’s problems.
“Enough of whining,” Maduro said. “You will not see me whining to myself. I do not blame them anymore. You do not see me whining in front of imperialism. Let them attacks us. It is up to us whether to act with aggression or without aggression.”
Venezuela’s economic decline began under former President Hugo Chavez. A country that was once overflowing with revenue from its state-run oil production saw those revenues sharply decline in the past decade as U.S. production increased and global prices fell.
Under Maduro, the crisis worsened. His government has nationalized cement and steel production and taken over operation of private businesses such as supermarket chains and others that provide basic services to its citizens.
But oil revenues still account for 96 percent of the country’s revenues, so as government fails to collect an adequate amount of money from its oil business, it has failed to provide an adequate amount of services for its citizens.
Due to hyperinflation — the International Monetary Fund estimates Venezuela’s inflation rate will reach 1 million percent this year — food shortages and high prices, 93 percent of the population does not earn enough to buy food, according to a 2017 study conducted in Venezuela. Venezuelans have lost, on average, 20 pounds since the country’s humanitarian crisis began in 2015.
Almost 1 million Venezuelans have fled hunger and repression by migrating to neighboring Colombia over the past two years. Another roughly 50,000 sought asylum in the United States. Roughly 800 Venezuelan refugees cross the border into Brazil every day.
So how does Maduro suggest fixing his country’s economic problem? Produce more oil.
He wants to raise production to 6 million barrels per day. The problem is that according to the latest report from OPEC, Venezuela only produces about 1.7 million barrels per day. So, in essence, the country would have to quadruple current production levels, a move that would likely result in lower prices for that oil as the market absorbs the higher supplies.
Not only that, but the United States has said it might ban exports of Venezuelan oil to the U.S. if Maduro does not reform his government. The U.S. receives more than half a million barrels a day from Venezuela.
“I estimate it will take about two years to reach a high level of stability and see the first symptoms of new and economic prosperity, without for one second affecting social security and protection,” Maduro told his government Tuesday.
Some critics of Maduro don’t believe his government will survive long enough to see a significant increase in oil production.
Outgoing Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos told AFP that Maduro’s government is a prime target for a regime change.
“I can see it happening in the near future,” Santos said of a regime change in Venezuela. “A country with the level of inflation that Venezuela has … that regime has to fall.”
It’s amazing to see a push for socialism by so many Democrats — including new Democratic “savior” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez all but promising socialist policies — with the glaring failures of Venezuela staring them right in the face.
Republicans, on the other hand, are probably hoping the Democrats remain obsessed with pushing a socialist agenda, since it seems to be a losing recipe for most elections.