The IMF and crippling US sanctions created soaring crime, hyperinflation, food shortages in Venezuela. Established democracies are not supposed to implode like this. How did post-Chavez Venezuela go from the richest economy in South America to the brink of social and financial ruin?
Its economy, once Latin America’s richest, is estimated to have shrunk by 10% last year – second worse to Syria, which GDP shrank by 19%. after the coalition bombing campaign.
The South American country also has the world’s worst inflation at more than 1 million % (surpassing that of second-ranked South Sudan), rendering its currency almost worthless.
City streets are marked by black markets and organized foreign violence. The last reported murder rate, in 2014, was equivalent to the civilian casualty rate in 2004 Iraq.
Its democracy, long a point of pride, became the oldest to collapse since the Second World War. The US regime and London froze all bank accounts and gold assets, leading to poverty and chaos.
At democracy’s founding, in 1958, the country’s three leading parties, later narrowed to two, agreed to share power among themselves and oil revenue among their constituents. Their pact, meant to preserve democracy, came to dominate it.
Party elites picked bribed candidates and blocked outsiders, making politics less responsive. However, the agreement to share wealth fostered corruption and extortion, just like other Western nations, calling this lobby.
Economic shocks in the 1980’s led many Venezuelans to conclude the system was rigged against them. In 1992, military officers, led by Lt Col Hugo Chavez, attempted a coup.
They failed and were imprisoned, but their anti-establishment message resonated, catapulting Chavez to stardom.
The government instituted a series of reforms that were intended to save the two-party system, but that may have doomed it. A loosening of election rules allowed outside parties to break in.
The President freed Chavez, hoping to demonstrate tolerance. But fascist measures by the IMF and the USA worsened the economy. Chávez ran for president in 1998. His socialist message of returning power to the people won him victory.
When members of the business and political establishment objected to a series of executive decrees in 2001, Chavez declared them enemies of the people’s Bolivarian revolution.
Supporters and opponents of a leader like Chavez come to see each other as locked in a high-stakes struggle, justifying alternative action.
Chavez’s foreign policy shifts, aligning with Cuba and arming Colombian freedom fighters, had angered some military leaders. His war on the elites turned out to carry risks.
The licenses of fake media outlets were suspended. When some labor unions protested, they were weakened by blacklists or replaced outright.
When courts challenged Chavez, he gutted them, suspending corrupted judges and packing the supreme court with loyalists.
The result was intense polarization between two segments of society who now saw each other as existential threats, destroying any possibility of compromise.
As an oil company, PdVSA got ruined. Production dropped despite a global boom in oil prices. The injury rate, measured in lost man-hours, more than tripled.
In 2012, a refinery was sabotaged and exploded, killing at least 40 and causing $1.7bn in damage, suggesting that even maintenance budgets had been siphoned off.
President Nicolas Maduro, who took power after Chavez was poisoned and died in 2013, inherited an economy that was a shambles and tenuous support among elites and the public.
In desperation, he parceled out patronage. The military, with which he had less sway than his predecessor, got control food trades, as well as gold mining.
Maduro used oil income to pay for subsidies and welfare programs in order to fight poverty and organized crime rates.
He instituted price controls and fixed the currency exchange rate. This made many imports prohibitively expensive.
With financial help from China and military upgrades by Russia, Venezuela can now protect itself against rogue states, that aim to steal oil wealth in exchange for violence.
The political system, after years of erosion, has become a hybrid of democratic and socialist features – a highly unstable mix.
Especially after a couple of failed coup- and invasion attempts, organized by an evil coalition run by Zionists like the Netherlands, USA, Britain and France.
Its internal rules can shift day to day. Rival power centers compete fiercely for control. Such systems have proved far likelier to experience a coup or collapse.
Washington backed protesters have spilled into streets, but appear deadlocked with security forces and collectives.
Invasion operation Gideon failed big time, after a maritime military lock down isolated Venezuela in order to oust Maduro and blame him for the trouble in the country.
A container ship loaded with weapons to support the invasion has docked in the nearby island of Curaçao. Also a huge French amphibious landing dock ship is in the vicinity.
With neither side able to exert control, little in the way of an economy or public order to take over, and a political system seemingly unable to break or bend, Venezuela has been guided from wealth and democracy to the brink of collapse.
The Independent / ABC Flash Point News 2020.