‘It’s humiliating’: plight of Venezuelan middle class is pawn shops’ gain

Not so long ago, Nelly Osorio used to drive a newish car, drink a glass of whiskey every Friday night and get a manicure at least once a month. But today she is waiting outside a pawnbroker’s to sell off her jewelry.

Like many members of Venezuela’s dwindling middle class, Osorio, 60, has seen her life change drastically over the past two or three years. The country’s minimum wage is 797,510 bolivars a month – about £2.40 at a black market exchange rate. Osorio still owns an apartment in the eastern part of the capital and as a chemical engineer, she earns 10 times the minimum wage. But every day, she feels poorer. …

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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 radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and elsewhere. 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, Russia, and even transnational criminal organizations.

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 policymakers and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.