Most of us don’t pay much attention to Latin American countries. The Europeans, the Middle East, China, and back in the 1980s, Japan, get most of the headlines.
I know this from experience since I have been blogging on Latin America for almost ten years; while my blog gets a nice amount of visitors and I have been invited to speak at conferences, Latin America is not a subject that draws much attention from the public at large, except when it comes to the subject of immigration.
But Latin American politics affects the USA, not only regarding immigration. When you have a formerly wealthy, oil-producing country bankrolling some of the extreme-left nations in our hemisphere, while at the same time heading head-first down the Communist abyss, it’s worth noting the change in geopolitics.
Things are bad in Venezuela right now. For instance,
- OIl production has declined from 3.2 million barrels a day in 2000, to 2.35 million. Venezuela’s oil revenues account for about 95% of export earnings.
- Venezuelan journalists have declared freedom of expression situation as “critical”
- Residents face chronic shortages of consumer goods and basic foods.
- Currency controls have brought about the suspension of foreign supplies of raw materials, equipment and spare parts to Venezuelan companies, disrupting their production.
- Personal safety is gone, as Venezuela, the most violent country in South America, recorded a new high of 21,692 murders this year along with a surge in kidnappings, prison riots and random shootings. Gangs of Chavista-funded motorcyclists last month looted a truck, with some of the looters climbing over the body of the fatally-injured diver.
- The entire medical system is collapsing.
- The National Assembly (their Congress) has now passed an Enabling Law, which granted president Nicolas Maduro the power to act by decree, bypassing the legislature.
- The implied monthly inflation rate has now ramped up to 36%, for a whopping 283% per year.
By now you’re probably asking, how can things get worse? Marking the start of a new period of repression, 11 women were arrested on Monday for peacefully protesting the new enabling law:
— El_bicho_popular (@Elbicho_popular) November 18, 2013
Maduro also wants Interpol to arrest JJ Rendón (who is now living outside the country), the political strategist to opposition leader Henrique Capriles, and has proclaimed that he will deal “with an iron hand” with anyone who dare question the results of the upcoming municipal elections scheduled for December 8 (link in Spanish) – a day he has proclaimed Hugo Chavez day.
The real crackdown is already starting: Maduro is now arresting small business owners. Their crime? Owning a business:
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday that authorities had arrested more than 100 “bourgeois” businessmen in a crackdown on alleged price-gouging since the weekend. “We have more than 100 of the bourgeoisie behind bars at the moment,” Maduro said in a speech to the nation.
In a country where corruption is the order of the day, my only theory is that Maduro may be seizing electronics stores, for instance, and handing them to members of the military as a means to keeping the military happy and paid off, since Cuban intelligence now is in charge of the military.
Where will the electronics and the appliances come from? China, perhaps.
Not that electric appliances represent a threat to the USA. A Communist country that has direct flights from Iran and Syria may, though. . . particularly after US Secretary of State John Kerry publicly repudiated the Monroe Doctrine.
Things will be getting a lot worse.