The crisis engulfing Venezuela appears to have reached the point of no return. Inflation is heading for 1000% while shortages of food and other essentials are now widespread. It has prompted many to speculate that it is just a matter of time before President Maduro is forced from office and Chavism is consigned to the dustbin of history.
The legacy of Hugo Chavez
When Hugo Chavez first came to prominence in the early 1990s, as a young military officer leading a failed coup attempt, Venezuela was a country that appeared ripe for revolution. Despite possessing some of the largest oil reserves in the world, it recorded some of the worst social indicators anywhere in Latin America. This was in contrast to its status in the 1970s as the richest and most stable country in the region, boasting high growth and low inequality compared to its neighbours.
But then came the eighties and the onset of instability – reflected in three failed coup attempts and one presidential impeachment – which sent economic growth south and with it social justice, as the rich and wealthy sought to maintain their wealth at the expense of the poor.
External factors were key in this regard, specifically the arrival of Ronald Regan onto the global political and geopolitical stage. The neoliberal reforms he introduced, authored by a clutch of ideologically driven madmen emanating out of the now infamous Chicago School – associated most prominently with the…