The Barbie Doll, possibly the most commonly criticized, iconic American toy is currently being kept at a historically and artificially low price by the anti-capitalist government in Venezuela, just in time for holiday shopping. What cost mothers and grandmothers up to three weeks minimum wage pay last Christmas (3500 bolivars) is now only about 250 bolivars or USD $3 using the bolivar-to-dollar black market conversion rate.
Oil prices are rapidly falling, thus Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro decided to make an important trip this past Monday. He announced in a public address on Sunday evening, “I leave on a very important trip to deal with new projects… and the decline in revenues that are the product of the sharp decline in oil prices.”1 First stop, Russia.
For Venezuela, a country whose economy desperately depends on its oil industry, the fall in the price of oil continues to wreak economic havoc. Oil exports constitute 96% of the country’s export earnings, and according to the Venezuelan Ministry of Petroleum and Mining, the end of 2014 saw Venezuelan crude oil prices fall to USD 47.05 per barrel compared to USD 95 in September 2014.
While much of the United States has been figuratively dancing in the streets about the incredibly low gas prices as of late, others have not been so fortunate to enjoy the plummet. Rather, their economies have been suffering because of it. One such nation is Venezuela, which has recently entered into a recession due to the global lack of demand for oil. Oil has been Venezuela’s primary export for years, which accounts for 96 percent of its foreign currency reception.1 The central Venezuelan bank also noted 63.6 percent inflation between November 2013 and November 2014.
A recent survey conducted by the Venezuelan polling firm Datánalisis reveals that the popularity of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro now stands at about 22 percent (El Universal 2014). Maduro won the presidential election in April 2013 with 50.6 percent of the vote - an extremely thin margin compared to the impressive electoral performance of his predecessor – Hugo Chavéz. Ever since, negative public assessment of Maduro is on the rise.
Hace poco me pidieron escribir sobre el “centro” político en un medio Venezolano. La idea era escribir una columna de opinión sobre sobre lo que significa ser “de centro” hoy. Después de pensarlo con cuidado, llegué a la conclusión de que el centro, por lo menos el centro entendido como un punto medio entre dos extremos ideológicos es difícil de encontrar. Es posible pensar que existen personas menos radicales que otras, pero no conozco la primera persona que esté interesada en política y sea totalmente neutral.
A recent report published by the Deutsche Bank revealed that China is rebalancing their economy, creating potentially devastating effects for Latin America. The report highlights the declining growth of real GDP as China shifts from a production to consumption based economy. The shift will have the largest effect on countries that primarily trade natural resources with China. The lessening of dependence on Latin America for metals such as iron ore, copper and crude oil will specifically hurt Chile and Venezuela.
China’s recent mini economic collapse this past summer caused mayhem not only within its borders but thousands of miles away in many Latin American countries. Ever since the early 2000s China has been one of the leading foreign investors across Latin America in countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela.