After spending 18 years under socialism, Venezuela has collapsed and is on the verge of having all of its institutions collapse around it as out of control debt has destroyed the country.
Even at Bogotá airport in Colombia, the closest major capital city to Venezuela, a look of curiosity comes over the faces of staff when you tell them you are heading to Caracas.
Entry visas into Venezuela remain fairly accessible, although journalists are not allowed without a special visa. Although I claimed I was there as a tourist, this seemed far-fetched even to the likely pro-government immigration authorities. “What is the real motive of your visit?” the officer asked me. “Seeing my girlfriend,” I replied.
She smiled. “Welcome to Venezuela.”
As you travel down from Simon Bolívar International Airport into the city center, the difference between Caracas and Bogotá – formerly one of the world’s major drug war battlegrounds – is stark.
Armed police stand on almost every street corner. Every physical space is dedicated to promoting the success of the late Hugo Chávez’s socialist revolution and Nicolás Maduro’s authoritarian regime. The opposition undermines official government propaganda with its own graffiti, effectively accusing the regime of destroying the country with the highest oil reserves in the world.
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The cities of Caracas are lined with garbage, and up to 15 percent of the population need to dig through garbage to eat. The crisis is particularly affecting children, who are growing and have specific nutrition requirements impossible to meet with the average Venezuelan diet.
The following are from Twitter:
— Thomas van Linge (@arabthomness) June 12, 2017
— Journeyman News (@JourneymanNews) June 12, 2017
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) June 9, 2017
— Rob (@Unpersuaded112) June 10, 2017
— Bruno Adrie (@BrunoAdrie) June 1, 2017
— romandie.com (@romandie) May 25, 2017
— British Vogue (@BritishVogue) May 21, 2017
RT PressKek “RT business: New casualties after days of looting and violence in Venezuela pushes death toll to 43 … pic.twitter.com/7HmzlHrvZS“
— Hypersigil Games (@HypersigilG) May 20, 2017
— WORLD (@WORLD_mag) May 26, 2017
— Arcadia Calls (@arcadiacalls) June 3, 2017
— The Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) June 4, 2017
— Marketplace (@Marketplace) June 1, 2017