Houston Chronicle: The nation with the most oil is falling apart
The largest pool of underground oil in the world is just 1,400 miles south of the U.S. border, and the nation sitting on it is devolving into chaos.Venezuela was always the most vulnerable country to a collapse in oil prices, and two years after prices started dropping, the country is in political and economic crisis.The latest indicator is the decision by two major airlines to stop flying to the country. The largest airline in South America, LatAm, and Germany's Lufthansa said the government is refusing to release ticket revenues as part of a larger plan to keep foreign currency in the country.For decades, Venezuela's economy relied on foreign currency flowing into the country in return for oil. The socialist government's budget relied on oil averaging $110 a barrel, but the price dropped below $30 earlier this year.Inflation is so high that the government cannot afford to print more currency. Schools only operate four days a week, store shelves are barren and food riots are growing. Hospital patients are dying from simple illnesses because there are not enough medical supplies.
When people go hungry, they get angry. The socialist government can no longer deliver on its promises, and voters have elected a right-wing parliament. The two sides are increasingly relying on violent protests to further their causes.
From Telesur: Pro-Govt Supporters Being Killed in Record Numbers
Venezuelan authorities are conducting an internal investigation into the assassination of retired Army Major General Felix Velasquez, which is the latest case in a surge of killings targeting pro-government public officials and activists.In recent months, Western mainstream media outlets have remained silent regarding the violence waged against government supporters, left-wing activists and public servants, which many believe is an attempt to undermine the future of the Chavista movement in the country.
High Profile Assassinations
March 2016: Socialist legislator Cesar Vera was shot in Tachira state. Vera was a member of the Great Patriotic Pole,a political coalition of parties aligned with the PSUV. A member of a Colombian paramilitary group was arrested in connection to the murder.
March 2016: Two Venezuelan police personnel were killed after a protest in a Tachira university turned deadly.
March 2016: Haitian-Venezuelan political leader and solidarity activist Fritz Saint Louis, 54, was shot dead in his home by masked gunman on Saturday evening.
January 2016: The well-respected journalist and prominent Chavista Ricardo Duran was murdered outside his home in Caracas. One suspect was arrested in connection to his murder.
March 2015: Local council member Dimas Gomez Chirinos, 47, was shot dead alongside his 20-year-old son, Eli David Gomez in the western state of Falcon, Venezuela. Gomez was also a member of the ruling PSUV. Three suspects were arrested in connection to the brutal killing.
May 2014: Rafael Celestino Albino Arteaga, 44, Vargas state chief of the Venezuelan Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN), was shot dead by an unidentified male assailant in a shopping mall in the western city of Maracay.
April 2014: Major Otaiza, a friend and ally of the late president Hugo Chavez, was shot dead outside the capital, Caracas. Otaiza was named direction of national intelligence early in Hugo Chavez's presidency. Following his death, Venezuelan Police arrested seven people in connection with the murder of the former public official.
February 2014: The high-profile killing of Robert Serra (27), a legislator of the PSUV, and the National Assembly's (AN) youngest parliamentarian, was found dead in his Caracas home. In December 2013, Serra was elected as a local counselor for the PSUV in the Libertadores area. An investigation revealed that Serra’s assassination was planned by paramilitary leader in Colombia, Padilla Mendoza.
DW: Armed squad kills 11 people in Venezuela
The Attorney General's office said the victims were in their homes in Andrés Bello in the northwestern state of Trujillo, when several armed men forced them to move into courtyards where they were shot dead.The victims included adult males aged 18 to 76 and three teenagers aged 15, 16 and 17. The Colombian national was identified as 76-year-old Alberto Diaz Patino. The Spanish-language news agency EFE reported that all of the victims were male.
According to a statement, the suspects fled the scene in cars and motorcycles. Two prosecutors have been assigned to the case.Unending violence
Venezuela is one of the most violent countries in the world that is not at war, with 58 homicides per 100,000 residents in 2015 according to prosecutors. In 2015 alone, there were 17,778 cases of homicide reported in the South-American country. The nongovernmental Venezuelan Violence Observatory says the murder rate is about 50 percent higher than the officially reported numbers.
NYT: Dying Infants and No Medicine: Inside Venezuela’s Failing Hospitals
BARCELONA, Venezuela — By morning, three newborns were already dead.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.
The economic crisis in this country has exploded into a public health emergency, claiming the lives of untold numbers of Venezuelans. It is just part of a larger unraveling here that has become so severe it has prompted President Nicolás Maduro to impose a state of emergency and has raised fears of a government collapse.
Veneuzela was supposed to be unicorns and rainbows, according to Sean Penn, Micheal Moore and Jimmy Carter. Where are they? They have millions of dollars that they could use to help the starving people. The fact that they will not shows them to be not only hypocrites but also cowards. Bernie Sanders is the first openly socialist person to run for president in the USA, but when asked about Venezuela, he redirects the conversation.
LEÓN KRAUZE, UNIVISION: I am sure that you know about this topic: various leftist governments, especially the populists, are in serious trouble in Latin America. The socialist model in Venezuela has the country near collapse. Argentina, also Brazil, how do you explain that failure?
BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: You are asking me questions…
LEÓN KRAUZE, UNIVISION: I am sure you’re interested in that.
BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: I am very interested, but right now I’m running for President of the United States.
LEÓN KRAUZE, UNIVISION: So you don’t have an opinion about the crisis in Venezuela?
BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: Of course I have an opinion, but as I said, I’m focused on my campaign.
The destruction of Venezuela has resulted from almost exactly the same chain of events occurring in the USA right now.