There are more and more indications that socialist Venezuela is unraveling. For example, on August 6, the Coast Guard of neighboring Curacao arrested 20 Venezuelans who were seeking to reach the island on rafts. Curacao in an independent island nation that is a former colony of the Netherlands. The rafts were detected by radar at six miles from shore, thus making officials suspicious. The Coast Guard discovered twenty Venezuelans and one Colombian on board.
 
Venezuela, which was once considered the richest country in Latin America, has been on a downward spiral ever since the days of former President Hugo Chavez. A former military officer, Chavez set out on an anti-American course more than a decade ago while seeking closer ties to Russia and Iran. His successor, Nicolas Maduro, has proved to be inept at handling the economy. Stores have been emptied of goods, and Venezuelans have no money to buy, while manufacturers cannot obtain the materials needed for producing food, medicine, and other consumables. Venezuela currently has the highest inflation rate in the world, and some of the lowest wages in the region.
 
This is not the first instance of Venezuelans seeking to leave the country illegally. For example, a Venezuelan was caught on a raft this year seeking to reach Aruba. And on June 29 of last year, three Venezuelan students illegally entered Trinidad and Tobago by raft. Curacao’s government announced in May that it is unprepared to receive Venezuelans should thousands come in a mass migration. 
 
President Maduro’s approval rating has dropped to nearly 10 percent, according to the Keller polling organization. His rating now stands at 11.6 percent. In addition, 83 percent of those polled said they would vote to revoke his power if they could. The vast majority of Venezuelans (88%) believe the economic crisis has worsened significantly. They are suffering from shortages of basic items, such as food, medicine, and toiletries. In addition, 94 percent believe that Venezuela’s military is incapable of handling food distribution. 
 
Feeling this pressure, Maduro appointed General Nestor Reverol to Minister of Interior and Justice. Former Minister of Defense Fernando Ochoa Antich told local media that Reverol’s appointment is “reckless, irresponsible and unusual.”
 
The month of July marked the most murderous month in Venezuela for the last two years, according to the Forensics Laboratory of Caracas, which reported 535 violent deaths. According to the Venezuelan Institute of Journalists, there are approximately 17 murders every day.  The body count reached 500 in June, according to the journalists’ organization. One tweet read, “During the weekend, the Caracas morgue received 43 corpses.” 
 
Caracas, the nation’s capital, has thus become the most dangerous city in the world, beating San Pedro Sula, Honduras, which won the distinction in 2015. According to a Mexican non-governmental organization -- the Citizen Council for Public Safety -- Caracas has a rate of 119 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants a year, compared to 111 in the Honduran city. In 2005, President Chavez forbade the publishing of crime figures in Venezuela. They were then only available in a weekly newsletter distributed by the national judicial police. Chavez called the media “liars” who only seek to heighten a “sense of insecurity” in Venezuela.
 
At one time, celebrities such as actor Sean Penn and director Oliver Stone praised the Chavez government and the so-called Bolivarian Revolution for allegedly bringing about social justice in Venezuela. Dependent on oil for declining foreign revenue while indulging in socialist schemes and huge arms purchases, Venezuela has significantly declined over the last decade and shows little sign of reversing course.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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