The country only has $11.9 billion in 2016 reserves left in it central bank. In 2011 before, they had $30 billion. Experts predict they only have up two years before the country is out of money, and that means the country will only continue to damage its own human dignity. .
Despite sitting on top of one of the world’s largest oil reserves, it is unlikely Venezuela will be able to covers its own debt to lenders, because of a 13 year old low in oil prices. Lenders include China, oil companies, importers and bondholders, among others.
Because of its focus on eliminating debt, the Venezuelan government will likely default in its attempts. It will not have enough for further payments in the next two years, experts say, even after the country started shipping its reserves to Switzerland.
The economic crisis is not isolated from the rest of the country. Debt payments have been prioritized over basic medicine and food for citizens. Massive food shortages starve the country and its people, as Venezuelan food companies fail to produce as much food as they did before, some from lack of material. Police have been put in charge of ports and food to maintain control. Thousands are workers have lost their jobs at the affected businesses and companies, some of which have even needed to shut down. Workers blame the government and its tight policies, import restrictions, and currency control. Their protests have filled to streets and the news.
Citizens wait in long lines for hours for basic food and living staples. Not even after half a day’s worth of waiting are they guaranteed any as there are limited amounts of supplies. Buying them would equal a month’s-worth pay. The country is reluctant in allowing aid from humanitarian groups.
Venezuela is desperate. It has even opened its border with Colombia, who is considered an enemy, for people to get food from the neighboring country. Over 100,000 people crossed the border.
This has culminated into what Amnesty International does not hesitate to label as forced labor. The socialist government has decreed a policy that forces employees to work fields for at least 60 days, just to keep the country and its people. The two month work period may even be extended, the creed stated, if the extremity of the situation calls for it. Amnesty International calls it “unlawful.”
People are lacking some of the basic necessities to a dignified life. They are at risk to being denied even more human rights by their own government. Political strife and tension between the government and the people only increases. Their society’s well-being deteriorates.
The country is suffering.
And still the same questions arise. I beleive better could be done.
A woman with a sign reading “There is no food” protests against new emergency powers decreed by President Nicolas Maduro in front of police in Caracas. Photo credit: AFP