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Cause and Effect: How did Venezuela end up in a crisis?




Members of the Venezuelan national guard control people as they queue to buy eggs at Petare neighborhood in Caracas on July 14, 2016.
Members of the Venezuelan national guard control people as they queue to buy eggs at Petare neighborhood in Caracas on July 14, 2016.
FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images

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The vast majority of Venezuelans are experiencing severe political calamity and economic distress.

Talks of recalling President Nicolás Maduro, food scarcity, oil dependency and social divide are just some of the focuses in the media, but how did Venezuela’s crisis develop?

Miguel Tinker Salas, an expert on Venezuela and professor of Latin American History at Pomona College, said Venezuela has a structural dependency on a single product that accounts for 96 percent of foreign revenue--oil, “As a result, when oil prices declined dramatically between 2012 and 2014, from $100 a barrel to the current $39 a barrel. Venezuela exports heavy crude, so they don’t receive the same price as say, Western Texas...so when the revenues are cut back, that means that Venezuela --who is a net importer of food-- is unable to import food at the same level it had previously.”

Tinker Salas added that the dependency on oil has been the main contributor to the basic and manufactured goods shortage.

Can the crisis be alleviated?

Guest:

Miguel Tinker Salas, Professor of Latin American History and Chicano Latino studies at Pomona College; his expertise includes culture and politics in Venezuela. Tinker Salas is also the author of three books on Venezuela, including, “Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know” (Oxford University Press, 2015)