After decades of authoritarian socialist policies and wealth redistribution, the country of Venezuela is collapsing.
Here are a few examples of how the financial system that Salon.com once called an “economic miracle” has deteriorated for the people forced to live under it.
1. If you live in Venezuela your money is worthless.
After current President Nicholas Maduro seized control over monetary policy of the country, a steep and steady devaluation of the currency has taken place. According to CNN:
Socialist President Nicolas Maduro has touted the Bolivarian Revolution, started by his deceased predecessor Hugo Chavez, as a successful movement. The goal is to equally distribute wealth among all the country's people. Maduro has continued massive public spending programs to appeal to the country's poor.
But the bolivar's implosion has only created more inequality. There's a growing divide between Venezuelans who can pay to exchange bolivars for dollars and those who can't.
Here is the rate of inflation the the Bolivar, the Venezuelan currency:
Here is the Bolivar's value against the U.S. dollar:
One Bolivar is now worth less than a penny.
2. The Venezuelan government does not have enough paper to even print money.
Venezuela is printing currency at an alarming rate, and the government is forced to outsource that printing to offshore companies. The financial site Zerohedge explains why:
“The central bank’s own printing presses in the industrial city of Maracay don’t have enough security paper and metal to print more than a small portion of the country’s bills, the people familiar with the matter said. Their difficulties stem from the same dollar shortages that have plagued Venezuela’s centralized economy, as the Maduro administration struggles to pay for imports of everything, including cancer medication, toilet paper and insect repellent to battle the mosquito-borne Zika virus.”
3. Grocery stores are barren wastelands.
Government stores are open just two days a week and are only accessible with a valid ID that limits them to a certain number of products. Even with these restrictions, these stores look like barren wastelands. Venezuelans wait all day in line hoping to get their hands on basic goods like bread and milk.
4. A hamburger will cost you $170.
Economic shortfall has officially made hamburgers a luxury in the country. What many Americans enjoy off the value menu at McDonald’s is now worth 1,700 Venezuelan dollars or $170, according to Yahoo.
5. People are hunting dogs, cats, and pigeons to eat.
The situation in Venezuela has gotten so severe that bakeries can’t even produce bread anymore. Empty store shelves coupled with hyperinflation has left the community turning to hunting down dogs, cats, and pigeons to survive.
6. Clean water=gold.
As if the crippling economic crisis wasn’t bad enough, the El Nino weather system has caused water levels to drop dramatically. With 60% of the country's electricity powered by a hydroelectric plant, the country is in a desperate situation.
On top of that, many communities are faced with yellow water that is filled with dirt. Water trucks that carry clean water get robbed 2-3 times a week, leaving drinkable water hard to come by.
7. There’s a black market for milk.
Scarcity in the country has left people looking beyond their empty store shelves to get their necessities. One person described to Telegraph that they message someone using ‘Whatsapp’ when they want to buy milk. This person’s story is more common than you think. Milk is one of the most common items on the black market.
8. There’s no toilet paper.
In Venezuela, people wait in enormous lines, begging for toilet paper. In Venezuela, they don’t care if it’s 2-ply or 4-ply or if a cute bear family is on the wrapper. All they want is a roll.
When they get their hands on it, it’s like they struck gold. With Venezuelans searching up to two weeks for the product, even tourist hot-spot hotels are now asking guests to bring their own toilet paper.
9. Electricity is rationed.
Venezuela’s new 2 day workweek isn’t as glorious as it sounds. It’s actually the latest measure to cut back on power usage. Other measures include shutting off all power for at least four hours a day. Some of these blackouts last up to 12 hours, putting daily life on pause and leaving food to spoil.
10. If you become sick in Venezuela, you are in trouble.
The state of medical care in Venezuela is straight out of a horror movie, with a lack of supplies, clean beds and caregivers. Elderly and children are dying. Read this excerpt from a recent bombshell New York Times report:
The day had begun with the usual hazards: chronic shortages of antibiotics, intravenous solutions, even food. Then a blackout swept over the city, shutting down the respirators in the maternity ward.
Doctors kept ailing infants alive by pumping air into their lungs by hand for hours. By nightfall, four more newborns had died.
“The death of a baby is our daily bread,” said Dr. Osleidy Camejo, a surgeon in the nation’s capital, Caracas, referring to the toll from Venezuela’s collapsing hospitals.
People have turned to social media to find medicine.
Faced with a public health crisis, Venezuelans are desperately using the social media platform in a last-ditch effort to save their loved ones. Using the hashtag #ServicoPublico, they are reaching out to each other in search of pills, vaccines, and even blood transfusions.
11. Lawless gangsters can kill you and your family at will.
Venezuela is lawless. Gangs control large parts of the country and commit heinous crimes at will, with little to no recourse from the authorities.
Venezuela has one of the highest murder rates in the world:
And one of the highest kidnapping rates in the world.
For the 30 million people who live in Venezuela, these are the effects of the government's socialist policies.
Editor's Note: This article was updated after publishing.