Tacos for me, but not for thee
The last few weeks for the Maduro regime in Venezuela have been hectic. From international sanctions to savory pastries, the Bolivarian Revolution can’t catch a break.
The government received a blow when the European Union decided to sanction the country, banning the sale of arms and any military or surveillance equipment. Between April 6th and August 13th of this year, at least 163 people have been killed in anti-government protests. There have likely been more deaths since then, though concrete numbers on that have not yet been released. It would seem that the EU sanction is a gesture to the Maduro regime to stop committing violence against its citizens, and is an attempt to curb that violence and repression.
International economic problems haven’t been the only issue to pop up. The Venezuelan oil industry, once the lifeblood of the tropical nation, is also at a 28 year low, according to an OPEC report. The output of crude oil dipped below 2 million barrels per day, it hasn’t been that low in three decades. The state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A (PDVSA), is also going through a major period of change, as top executives have been arrested in recent weeks, some of the arrests have been due to production figure manipulation. With these falling production figures and mismanagement and corruption in the industry, it is unlikely that the oil industry will recover anytime soon. Venezuela also can’t afford to buy new equipment to replace the aging rigs or to build new ones, this will further hurt production. 95% of Venezuelan export revenues come from oil. Because there is no diversification, the whole country is paying the price for the failings of a single state-run company, with deadly consequences.
Despite all of this, the Maduro regime likely relaxed after negotiations with Russia concluded. In a public address, Maduro said, “This Monday, the first round of renegotiation of the Venezuelan external debt will take place, we are overcoming the economic war, they will not be able to beat us.” Maduro is referring to the notion that the United States is engaging in economic warfare to stop a socialist utopia from developing in Venezuela in order to fuel the capitalist machine, rather than the reality of these sanctions being put in place to stop his government from engaging in high levels of corruption, acting as a narco-state, and slaughtering its own citizens.
Last week a portly Maduro was caught eating an empanada during a speech on live television while many of his countrymen are starving. A perfect metaphor for the end state for communism. Human rights are being infringed upon, economic conditions are floundering, and the international community has become increasingly hostile towards the Maduro regime. Venezuela is a ticking time bomb, internal mismanagement and abuses have put the country on a path towards destruction, and only outside support from countries such as Russia and China have kept it afloat.
It’s likely that Venezuela has yet to hit rock bottom, aka peak communism.
Photo credit: Andreas Lehner