3 August 2017   Leave a comment

For those of us who regularly read and watch the news, The Economist has some dispiriting information.   The news media apparently has little effect on how some citizens determine their political preferences. Indeed, among some constituencies, more would prefer shutting down or fining media outlets that broadcast stories that are “biased or inaccurate”.  Freedom of the press is a cardinal value of a liberal society, but some of our colleagues do not regard that freedom as sacrosanct.  And it does not appear that they are willing to entertain information that conflicts with their beliefs.

The turmoil in Venezuela has been economically catastrophic.  According to the IMF, the Venezuelan Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has declined by 25% and per capita GDP has declined by 40%.  To put these figures in context, Ricardo Hausman, a former minister of planning in Venezuela, puts it this way:

“The most frequently used indicator to compare recessions is GDP. According to the International Monetary Fund, Venezuela’s GDP in 2017 is 35% below 2013 levels, or 40% in per capita terms. That is a significantly sharper contraction than during the 1929-1933 Great Depression in the United States, when US GDP is estimated to have fallen 28%. It is slightly bigger than the decline in Russia (1990-1994), Cuba (1989-1993), and Albania (1989-1993), but smaller than that experienced by other former Soviet States at the time of transition, such as Georgia, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Ukraine, or war-torn countries such as Liberia (1993), Libya (2011), Rwanda (1994), Iran (1981), and, most recently, South Sudan.

“Put another way, Venezuela’s economic catastrophe dwarfs any in the history of the US, Western Europe, or the rest of Latin America.”

Poverty is so pervasive in the country that 74% of Venezuelans have involuntarily lost 19 pounds in weight, in-patient mortality in hospitals have increased ten-fold, and infant mortality in hospitals has increased 100-fold.

Inflation in Venezuela

venezuela cash crisis timeline 3

Cobalt is an indispensable mineral for many electronic devices and 60 percent of the world’s cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The miners who dig the cobalt from deep within the earth get paid very little for doing incredibly dangerous work.  The Washington Post has an article on the conditions in the mines and it reports that the miners earn between $2 and $3 a day and that many of these miners are children.  It is deeply disturbing that so much wealth is generated by cobalt and that such a small amount goes to the people who actually make it possible to use the mineral.

Posted August 3, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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