29 January 2016

3 ways Venezuela failed this week


Congratulations are in order for economic basket case Venezuela. Its capital, Caracas, has been named the most dangerous city in the world.

The list, compiled by the Mexico Citizens Council for Public Security, ranks the 50 most violent cities worldwide, excluding warzones. 41 of these are in Latin America, and while Brazil is home to 21 of them, Venezuela wins the dubious honour of housing the very worst, along with 7 others. Caracas suffered 119.87 homicides for every 100,000 residents in 2015, and the violence is blamed primarily on “drug trafficking, gang wars, political instability, corruption and poverty”.

That isn’t Venezuela’s only failure this week. Panic about the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease suspected of causing birth defects if contracted by pregnant women, has reached such a fever pitch that some countries, including Brazil, are advising women to avoid pregnancy altogether. Brazil and Colombia have both released data on the number of cases, but Venezuela’s government has come under fire for refusing to make these figures public, or even take the crisis seriously. The Guardian notes that:

“The Venezuelan Society of Public Health has chastised the socialist administration for remaining silent. It said a study by non-governmental organizations that sought reports of fevers found a rise in cases of acute fever in the past six months that could correspond to 400,000 cases of Zika here.…

Medical professionals in this highly polarized country tend to lean toward the opposition and many blame the socialist administration for widespread shortages of medical supplies and a worsening brain drain that has deprived the country of specialists and young doctors.”

The Venezuelan government is putting its own citizens at risk in order to hide its catastrophic failure to provide adequate healthcare. While the the Zika virus epidemic cannot be blamed on the government alone, the administration’s lack of transparency in responding to the crisis reveals both the level of state corruption and the gaping holes in the country’s socialist model.

Finally, Venezuela is one of fifteen countries to have their UN voting rights revoked this week, thanks to their failure to pay membership dues. Other countries include Bahrain and the Dominican Republican, but this loss is particularly embarrassing for Venezuela, as the country is not only on the UN Security Council – it is due to take over the Council presidency in February. Venezuela needs to pay the UN $3 million to get its voting rights back, but with the country in economic meltdown, even this small amount is unattainable.

Still, if Venezuela is mourning the loss of its voting rights, at least it can celebrate Caracas’ victory as the most dangerous city in the world.

Rachel Cunliffe is Deputy Editor of CapX.