The Failure that Is the Venezuelan Economy

I still recall the days when many a pundit in the United States expressed at least mild admiration–and oftentimes, significant admiration–for Hugo Chávez’s socialist project. Behold what it hath wrought:

Shoppers thronged grocery stores across Caracas today as deepening shortages led the government to put Venezuela’s food distribution under military protection.

Long lines, some stretching for blocks, formed outside grocery stores in the South American country’s capital as residents search for scarce basic items such as detergent and chicken.

“I’ve visited six stores already today looking for detergent — I can’t find it anywhere,” said Lisbeth Elsa, a 27-year-old janitor, waiting in line outside a supermarket in eastern Caracas. “We’re wearing our dirty clothes again because we can’t find it. At this point I’ll buy whatever I can find.”

A dearth of foreign currency exacerbated by collapsing oil prices has led to shortages of imports from toilet paper to car batteries, and helped push annual inflation to 64 percent in November. The lines will persist as long as price controls remain in place, Luis Vicente Leon, director of Caracas-based polling firm Datanalisis, said today in a telephone interview.

Speaking of things I remember, I also remember that Chávez appeared before the United Nations General Assembly and said that George W. Bush was the devil. I’m pretty sure that Venezuelans think that the only demon spawn worth condemning are Chávez and his successors. Look what they have done to an entire country.

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