John, this Venezuela's photo is a good introduction to Venezuela's story of economical collapse. What is going on there reminds me Poland in 80s but it is worse. we also had long lines of people waiting for food and toilet paper, we had different black market currency value and much lower official, which was not even applicable.
According to the International Monetary Fund's latest projections, it has the world's worst economic growth, worst inflation and ninth-worst unemployment rate right now. It also has the second-worst murder rate, and an infant mortality rate at public hospitals that's gotten 100 times worse itself the past four years. And in case all that wasn't bad enough, its currency, going by black market rates, has lost 99 percent of its value since the start of 2012. It's what you call a complete social and economic collapse. And it has happened despite the fact that Venezuela has the world's largest oil reserves.
You can't keep redistributing oil profits, though, if there aren't any more oil profits to redistribute. Or at least not that many of them — which there aren't now. The first reason for that is that former president Hugo Chávez replaced people who knew what they were doing with people he knew would be loyal to him at the state-owned oil company.
it can't afford to keep the lights on. All the progress it had made fighting poverty has been reversed, and then some. The police are going after protesters, and vigilantes are going after petty criminals by, for example, burning a 42-year-old father alive for stealing $5. How has it come to this? Well, the underlying cause is that the government hasn't been content to just control the oil business. It wants to control every business. It tells them how much to charge, who's allowed to charge it, and even who's allowed to line up for it. Because that's the one thing Venezuela is well-supplied with now: hours and hours of lines.
Venezuela has had shortages of basic goods — everything from food to beer to toilet paper and especially medical supplies — even before oil prices fell so far.