Venezuela’s 21st Century Socialism: Ferraris and starving children

During the 20th century, socialism plunged millions into misery, oppression, and death, destroying entire nations while the ruling class became filthy rich. Hugo Chavez’s 21st century variant is no different.

Via The New York Times:

Ferraris and Hungry Children: Venezuela’s Socialist Vision in Shambles

After years of extreme scarcity, some Venezuelans lead lives of luxury as others scrape by. The nation of grinding hardship has increasingly become one of haves and have-nots.

In the capital, a store sells Prada purses and a 110-inch television for $115,000. Not far away, a Ferrari dealership has opened, while a new restaurant allows well-off diners to enjoy a meal seated atop a giant crane overlooking the city.

“When was the last time you did something for the first time?” the restaurant’s host boomed over a microphone to excited customers as they sang along to a Coldplay song.

This is not Dubai or Tokyo, but Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, where a socialist revolution once promised equality and an end to the bourgeoisie.

Venezuela’s economy imploded nearly a decade ago, prompting a huge outflow of migrants in one of worst crises in modern Latin American history. Now there are signs the country is settling into a new, disorienting normality, with everyday products easily available, poverty starting to lessen — and surprising pockets of wealth arising.

That has left the socialist government of the authoritarian President Nicolás Maduro presiding over an improving economy as the opposition is struggling to unite and as the United States has scaled back oil sanctions that helped decimate the country’s finances.

Conditions remain dire for a huge portion of the population, and while the hyperinflation that crippled the economy has moderated, prices still triple annually, among the worst rates in the world.

But with the government’s ease of restrictions on the use of U.S. dollars to address Venezuela’s economic collapse, business activity is returning to what was once the region’s wealthiest nation.

As a result, Venezuela is increasingly a country of haves and have-nots, and one of the world’s most unequal societies, according to Encovi, a respected national poll by the Institute of Economic and Social Research of the Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas.

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