Venezuela Is a Ticking Time Bomb

Real Clear World-01Over the last two decades, the now-deceased Hugo Chavez and his handpicked successor, President Nicolas Maduro, have wreaked havoc in Venezuela. Socialist economic policies and government corruption have destroyed a once-thriving economy sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves.

For the past 21 years, The Heritage Foundation has published its annual Index of Economic Freedom, which looks at the economic freedom of countries throughout the world. In that period of time, Venezuela’s score has declined the most out of any country, going from 59.8 to 27.0 (on a scale of 1-100). It is now in second-to-last place, right behind Cuba and better only than North Korea.

Adding to Venezuela’s economic crisis is its skyrocketing inflation rate. The International Monetary Fund estimates a 2016 inflation rate of 475 percent, an enormous increase from 2015’s already crushing rate of 275 percent. For 2017, the situation is estimated to become much worse, with a sharp rise of 1660 percent.

Mismanagement of the economy has created a humanitarian disaster beyond comprehension. The capital city of Caracas is now the most dangerous non-war zone in the world, with 120 murders for every 100,000 residents. Venezuelans live in fear knowing they are more likely to be kidnapped in their own country than are the citizens of Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria. …

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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.