When last we checked, Venezuela had come down with a case of Terminal Socialism. Here’s an update.
Faced with crippling inflation and a shortage of basic goods due to endemic cronyism, horrible mismanagement and laughable official exchange rates, Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government has finally thrown in the towel and instituted floating exchange rates… sort of:
A dollar will cost you 6.3 bolívares if you are the government, or if you can persuade Cencoex (the government’s foreign-trade body) that you intend to import vital goods such as food or medicine. Then there’s the Sicad I rate, currently just over 10 bolívares to the dollar, but contingent on irregular, “auctions” (which are nothing of the sort). The new Sicad II process, which is as close to a free market as the government will allow, opened at a whopping 50 bolívares to the dollar. But even that is a bargain compared with the unofficial exchange rate, which at the time of writing stands at almost 68 bolívares.
Meanwhile, shortages of basic goods mean Venezuelans get to enjoy that classic staple of late stage socialism: waiting in line to get food:
Food lines in Venezuela , 16 hours to buy something , Welcome to socialism !! pic.twitter.com/zptCEKABAV
— Peter Perez (@cubamaniak) April 9, 2014
— bangkokdave (@bangkokdave) March 31, 2014
— Whitney (@__WXMD) March 12, 2014
And the violent crackdown against opposition protesters continues:
Naturally, as a prelude to cracking down on the opposition, they followed the old socialist playbook by outlawing private ownership of guns. It’s always so much easier to oppress people once they’ve been disarmed. Even so, as the following video (via Legal Insurrection) shows, police don’t always get the upper hand:
Security forces have also committed dozens of documented instances of torture.
Are there any rays of home in the grim situation? Yes, Maduro’s government and opposition leaders have agreed to talks. Whether these can actually accomplish anything remains to be seen, but the fact that Maduro “ruled out any changes to the course of what he calls the Bolivarian revolution, the distinct brand of socialism created by his predecessor in office, Hugo Chavez,” tends to indicate that the prognosis is still grim.
Other Venezuela news: