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Venezuela: Worsening economic crisis erodes Chavista stronghold

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An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2018-07-20

Video: Maracaibo, the story of Venezuela's collapse

© Chris Huby, Agence Le Pictorium

Maracaibo is the second-largest city in Venezuela. Its residents face soaring inflation, widespread poverty and shortages. Under Hugo Chavez, Venezuela based its economy on oil exports. But the fall in oil prices led to a crippling economic crisis. Most people can no longer afford to buy food and the fishermen of Lake Maracaibo resort to smuggling to sell their meagre catch in neighbouring Colombia. Our reporters Matthieu Delmas and Chris Huby went to meet Maracaibo’s struggling residents.

Venezuela has some of the largest oil reserves in the world. But over the past three years, the country has suffered the worst economic crisis in South American history. After 19 years of rule by first Hugo Chavez and then his successor, Nicolas Maduro, the country is on its knees.

Chavez financed his generous social programmes thanks to the windfall from millions of petrodollars. With oil prices constantly rising, the economic cycle remained positive until his death in 2013.

Economy in freefall

The passing of the left-wing leader, followed by the slump in oil prices, marked the end of the Chavez-led economic boom. Today, importers can no longer afford to pay for their orders in dollars, imported food has become an unaffordable luxury, while the IMF forecasts an inflation rate of 13,800% for this year. Only petrol remains affordable. For the price of a pack of flour, drivers can fill up their tank nearly 15,000 times.

Today, Venezuela is on the brink of economic collapse. Only a few upscale residential towers, with barbed wire over the walls, hint at its past glory. Faced with runaway inflation, shortages, hunger and insecurity, two million Venezuelans have already left the country, hoping to build a better future elsewhere.

By Matthieu DELMAS , Chris HUBY

Archives

2018-08-03 Reporters

Video: Super Mama Djombo, Guinea-Bissau’s soundtrack

Today, if the small West African state of Guinea Bissau is famous—or, perhaps more correctly, infamous—for anything, it’s for frequent coups d’état. But that hasn’t always been...

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2018-07-27 Reporters

Video: Zimbabwe faces up to its painful past

After three decades of silence, people in Zimbabwe are finally speaking out about the brutal civil war that followed independence. It’s no longer taboo to mention the ethnic...

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2018-06-29 Reporters

Video: Inside Nicaragua’s rebel stronghold of Masaya

More than 200 people have been killed in the unprecedented wave of unrest sweeping Nicaragua in recent months. In mid-April, plans for social security reform sparked protests and...

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2018-07-13 Reporters

Central African Republic: The way of the warlord

In the war-torn Central African Republic, former rebels who mounted a coup in 2013 are now dreaming of independence. FRANCE 24’s reporters James André and Anthony Fouchard went...

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