Here's How Bad Things Get When You Base Your Whole Country On Oil Prices

The late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez getting chummy with his state-supported F1 driver, Pastor Maldonado, in happier times of 2011. Photo Credit: AP

There are few clearer examples of a country basing its entire economy off of oil than Venezuela, which is a bad sign for petrostates because Venezuela is going to shit right now.

Two major features from The Atlantic and The New York Times recently discussed Venezuela’s collapse, with economic failure leading to public health failure.


The Atlantic:

In the last two years Venezuela has experienced the kind of implosion that hardly ever occurs in a middle-income country like it outside of war. Mortality rates are skyrocketing; one public service after another is collapsing; triple-digit inflation has left more than 70 percent of the population in poverty; an unmanageable crime wave keeps people locked indoors at night; shoppers have to stand in linefor hours to buy food; babies die in large numbers for lack of simple, inexpensive medicines and equipment in hospitals, as do the elderly and those suffering from chronic illnesses.

The New York Times:

Hospital wards have become crucibles where the forces tearing Venezuela apart have converged. Gloves and soap have vanished from some hospitals. Often, cancer medicines are found only on the black market. There is so little electricity that the government works only two days a week to save what energy is left.

At the University of the Andes Hospital in the mountain city of Mérida, there was not enough water to wash blood from the operating table. Doctors preparing for surgery cleaned their hands with bottles of seltzer water.

“It is like something from the 19th century,” said Dr. Christian Pino, a surgeon at the hospital.


The Atlantic also notes that while the people of Venezuela couldn’t get their hands on life-saving medicine, the government was busy funneling tens of millions into the doomed career of Formula 1 reject Pastor Maldonado.

Read both of the articles here and here to see what sits behind Formula 1's glittering dictatorship-backed business model, and to better understand the risks inherent in an oil-based economy.


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Raphael Orlove

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.