In a Venezuela Ravaged by Inflation, ‘a Race for Survival’

The New York TimesCARACAS, Venezuela — Of all the compromises he has had to make during Venezuela’s economic crisis, none may be as great for Carlos Sandoval as the books.

A self-described bibliophile — “my life is literature,” he said — Mr. Sandoval is one of Venezuela’s foremost literary critics and a professor at two of the country’s finest universities.

Yet, Mr. Sandoval can no longer afford to buy books. “It’s the worst sacrifice,” he lamented.

Venezuela’s deepening economic crisis has spared few across the population of more than 30 million.

The nation is on the verge of, and by some measures already in, an extraordinary period of hyperinflation, with the inflation rate above 800 percent through October. Next year, consumer prices are forecast by the International Monetary Fund to soar more than 2,300 percent. …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform American policymakers and American and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.