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Saving Venezuela

Venezuela was once the pride and democratic example of Latin America. It can be that once again: a free, stable, and productive country, where citizens live in safety and peace – but only if the international community provides support in at least three key areas.

SANTIAGO – Venezuela remains in free fall. Home to the world’s largest proven oil reserves and once Latin America’s wealthiest country, it is now ravaged and suffering complete economic collapse. GDP has fallen 54% from its 2013 peak, the second largest drop recorded in modern history, estimates the Institute for International Finance.

With inflation at an eye-popping 10,000,000% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund, and the minimum monthly wage below $3, a large proportion of the population is destitute. Nearly four million people are malnourished, and some are dying from malnutrition. Diseases that are preventable by vaccination or caused by dirty water, like typhoid fever and hepatitis A, have reappeared, and hospitals, lacking medicines, staff, or equipment, have become dysfunctional, causing still more people to die.

Disastrous economic policies, corruption, and cronyism under President Nicolás Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, are entirely to blame. The regime blames this appalling state of affairs on international sanctions, but Venezuela’s economic deterioration started long before. Arbitrary confiscation (as well as crime and street violence) is an ever-present threat, a byzantine array of administrative controls has rendered the price system useless, and there is no foreign exchange to import the spare parts needed to operate trucks and industrial machinery. In this environment, businesses cannot flourish and employment cannot grow.

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