Remember getting a McDonald’s Happy Meal because it was cheap? That’s not the case anymore in Venezuela, where hyperinflation has made even everyday purchases impossible. In March, a Venezuelan McDonald’s advertised its Happy Meal for 18,500 bolivars – far more than the minimum wage in March. While the minimum wage has since been raised to 40,000 bolivars, that will buy Venezuelans two Happy Meals a month and nothing else. Clearly, Venezuelans have nothing to be happy about. The same McDonalds was almost devoid of customers who couldn’t afford the luxury of eating even a cheap meal.
Thanks to hyperinflation, life for Venezuelans revolves around lack of food, medicine, and continuous blackouts and revolts. Anyone who is able to leave the country is going somewhere else. Thus far, three million people have fled in hopes of finding jobs, food, and a better living.
In the last six years, the bolivar has lost 99 percent of its value. It is, in effect worthless. It has turned in monopoly money.
Socialist policies in Venezuela have caused the worst economic collapse outside of war time. The last time was in war-torn Libya in the 1970s. It is virtually impossible to imagine a similar humanitarian crisis during peacetime.
Butchers have no meat to sell and can only offer cow hooves, some fat, or offal. Since even such meager offerings are unaffordable to most Venezuelans, many go through trash in hopes of finding something – anything – that is useable. People use dirty stream water because clean water is not always available
Electricity becomes a luxury as people are becoming accustomed to regular blackouts.
Venezuela is experiencing war-time horrors, although the country is not technically at war. Still, the military is out in full force against citizens who dare protest this situation. Not long ago, Venezuela was the pride of South America, with natural resources that brought wealth and prosperity to the country. Former President Hugo Chavez, with his expansive spending plans and nationalizing of oil production, began the ruinous inflation. Oil production has fallen off steeply ever since. Current President Maduro has continued the same policies that are destroying the country. It goes without saying that Maduro can afford a Happy Meal or any other food that he craves. And his military supporters are also able to live in reasonable comfort. Maduro knows this group needs to be kept happy.
It’s the rest of the country that is experiencing nothing but misery on a daily basis. President Trump’s recent sanctions and the rise of Juan Guaidó have only made Maduro more determined to continue his failed policies. Maduro blames the crisis on the U.S., although Venezuela’s declined began years ago. Putting the blame on Trump’s policies, Maduro claims, “We are fighting a savage battle against international sanctions that have made Venezuela lose at least $20 billion in 2018. They are pursuing our bank accounts, our purchases abroad of any products. It’s more than a blockade, it’s persecution.”
With over 50 countries acknowledging Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s president but with Maduro still clinging to power, Venezuelans can’t even be certain who their current president is.
Riots are becoming so frequent, armed gangs have placed themselves in charge of entire towns. Looting is rampant. The average citizen has been left without purchasing power. Merchants try to sell their wares before the next blackout. These same retailers rush to the bank with what little money they have before it decreases in value by the end of the day. And whatever people cannot afford, they try to find in piles of trash.
Venezuela’s inflation is at 10 million percent. By the end of 2019, Venezuela GDP will be reduced by 62 percent since Maduro’s election. In a mere six years, Maduro has brought his country to its knees.
It is interesting that while Venezuela sinks deeper into the murky quagmire of socialism, many American politicians are demanding that those same policies are implemented here. This can be explained that socialism is and has always been about power, not equality.