Country faces worst fiscal issues ever; limited access to food impacts citizens
The Venezuelan economy is the product of a country that relies heavily on imported goods, enforces a numerous amount of social welfare programs and funds all of this from a single export. The economic crisis, in which Venezuela currently finds itself, is what happens when the price of that export crashes.
The crux of the Venezuelan economy lies in its proven oil reserves, which total 298.4 billion barrels. According to World Atlas, Venezuela’s socialist government has used this endless spring to fund its social programs. The problem arises when the golden teat runs dry. As oil prices began to decline, Venezuela’s import-dependent economy took a negative turn and the government’s attempt to stem the bleeding only made things worse.
Former president, Hugo Chávez, took power in 1999. The social programs created during his government saw a decline in poverty, a rise in education and a wider access to clean water. However, in the later years of his presidency, Chávez saw the price of the oil decline. He believed the country depended on the oil business to succeed. In order to keep important household products, like the Venezuelan major staple corn flour, affordable, Chávez regulated the prices of these Venezuelan produced goods. This price regulation caused it to become more expensive to produce the regulated goods.
The production of the few products Venezuela produced for itself declined and made the country more dependent on foreign imports. Chávez’s successor, Maduro, took power in 2013 when the oil prices dipped even further. As his country began to run low on food, Maduro chose to blame the Venezuelan citizens. He claimed Venezuelua’s shortages were to be blamed on the “economic war” being waged. He claimed the shortages stemmed from people who hoarded food and the others that bought it in excess to sell at a profit
In response, Maduro partially closed Venezuela’s border to Columbia in order to try to limit illegal smuggling of subsidized goods. However, the problem only grew worse and the border was reopened allowing citizens to cross into Columbia to buy many necessary goods that were impossible to find in Venezuela. As Maduro continues to try to fix this crisis with government control, his opposition fights vehemently for his removal.
After current president Maduro’s opposing parties won control of congress, they have tirelessly tried to remove him from office, but Maduro has always had the upper hand. After filling the Supreme Court with his sympathizers, a constitutional amendment to shorten the term of Maduro’s presidency from six years to four was struck down. Sufficient signatures were collected in support for a referendum to recall Maduro, the President remarked that the National Electoral Council had “lost its political validity.”
As Venezuela’s economic crisis continues to worsen, the government keeps running out of even the most basic supplies. From toilet paper to medicine, venezuelan citizens are struggling to find the means to survive this time of distress.
With no crisis like this in it’s history, Venezuela and the world will see how it responds to this turbulent time of political and economic crisis.