Venezuela: The Misery of King Midas

Issue 1703

12 April 2017

How does an oilrich nation like Venezuela, enjoying one of the most advantageous geographical locations in continental America and having achieved a high level of development in the second half of the twentieth century, turn into a society on its knees, begging for humanitarian aid, medicine, and food? How is it possible for one of the first representative democracies in Latin America to become so bitterly divided?

The fate of Venezuela brings to mind the myth of King Midas: a man who could turn anything into gold just by touching it, but who also ended up miserable, unable even to feed himself. It is true that there is an abundance of black gold in Venezuela, but just like Midas, the blind faith that led Venezuelans to believe that petroleum was the one and only resource for sustenance also led them to a serious condition of collective poverty.

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