Monday, April 04, 2016

VENEZUELA - Oil Rich But In Trouble

"Oil-rich Venezuela suffers as global prices plummet" PBS NewsHour 3/31/2016


SUMMARY:  Falling oil prices around the world are usually considered a good thing.  But for countries whose economies depend on oil exports, the price drop means impending catastrophe.  Scott Tong of Marketplace recently traveled to Venezuela, where 96 percent of all export revenue comes from oil and import prices are skyrocketing.  Tong joins Jeffrey Brown to discuss the country’s economic freefall.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  The oil-rich South American nation is in the throes of a deep economic crisis, as its version of socialism faces the crash in global oil prices and political turmoil.

Jeffrey Brown has our look.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  A symbolic burning of the Judas, something of an Easter tradition in some Catholic countries.  Effigies of unpopular figures are set ablaze.

This year in Venezuela, those figures were politicians, including President Nicolas Maduro and a local mayor.  But President Obama wasn’t spared.  The U.S. has long been a favorite target of Venezuelan anger.

And Venezuelans have much to enrage them right now.  The global price of oil, the country’s main commodity, has fallen dramatically, crushing the government’s bottom line.  Meanwhile, the Venezuelan Central Bank began printing money at record levels, the result, massive inflation in this socialist country.

The cost of consumer goods increased 275 percent last year, according to the International Monetary Fund.  And that number is expected to double in 2016.  Long lines and empty shelves have come to define life for many, as well as anger at the Maduro government.

In elections last year, the opposition party won a majority of seats in the national Parliament.  Earlier this month, after weeks without water, protests erupted in this San Cristobal neighborhood.  Meanwhile, in Caracas, nurses protested a lack of medicines and equipment, while, across town, demonstrators called for the president’s resignation.

And for a look at the crisis facing Venezuela, we welcome Scott Tong of public radio’s Marketplace.  He recently returned from a reporting trip there.

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