Venezuela was once a thriving country, rich in profits from oil exports. However over the past several years things have gone south due to “years of mismanagement under a socialist government” that the AP reports has “ground much of the nation’s production to a halt, and the country [has grown] ever more dependent on imports.”
Not only has the economy ground to a halt, normal life for the people of Venezuela has as well. Reuters reports, “For several years now, Venezuelans have been enduring massive lines for scarce products, particularly food basics subsidized by the government. Security forces often guard and guide the lines, though fights and arguments are still common, and sometimes people faint under the sun.” The average Venezuelan spends 35 hours per month standing in those lines hoping to be able to buy something to survive. However a recent survey revealed that “[o]nly 78 percent of people said they eat breakfast and 32 percent of people said they only eat twice a day.” The survey also found that “93 percent of Venezuelans do not have enough money to cover their food expenses.”
One reason many Venezuelans can’t cover basic necessities is because of hyperinflation, which the IMF predicts will soon reach 1600%. However Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro acts as if nothing is wrong. The official monetary exchange rate is 10 Bolivar Fuerte (BsF) to 1 US Dollar (USD), however the black-market rate is closer to 3,000 BsF to 1 USD. This discrepancy in the value of the currency has created an array of problems. The foreign companies who are selling goods to Venezuelan businesses want paid in USD. This would not be as much of a problem if businesses were allowed to sell the goods at or above the actual cost of the goods. The Venezuelan government has instituted price controls, which often times require products to be sold below cost. This leads to scarcity, which leads to more government control (seizure of business, price controls, etc), which creates even more scarcity, and the cycle continues.
It’s no wonder that so many Venezuelans are on what they call the “Maduro Diet” which has lead 75% of Venezuelans to lose at least 19 pounds in the past year. The aforementioned survey of Venezuelans found that “most Venezuelans substituted red and white meats with vegetables and… potatoes.” Meanwhile Maduro recently made a comment about enjoying chicken cooked in wine. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles says President Maduro is “[t]he only one gaining weight in Venezuela… He hardly fits in the TV screen any more.”
Nicolas Maduro is a perfect analogy for government (especially those of the communist or socialist variety) those at the top will enrich themselves while everyone else is left in a worse state than they previously were. The only thing that will save the people of Venezuela from the government of Venezuela is freedom: freedom from currency manipulation, freedom from price controls, freedom from government seizures, and freedom from government regulations.