Venezuela Boomed Under Chávez and Declined Under Maduro
Crisis in Venezuela
As part of the crisis in Venezuela, the country’s GDP took a big hit. While the gross domestic product was at more than US$330 billion when current president Nicolás Maduro took office in April 2013, it swiftly declined thereafter and is expected to hit US$68 billion in 2023, according to the International Monetary Fund.
To be fair, Maduro’s ascent to power wasn’t solely responsible for the problems that started arising for Venezuela. In 2014, oil prices began to fall because of increased production in the U.S. and Canada. Being a country heavily reliant on oil, the Venezuelan economy was going to suffer. But severe economic mismanagement by Maduro’s administration, the failure or unwillingness to fight corruption and the lack of truly democratic governance worsened the crisis causing hyperinflation, severe food shortages and widespread protests.
Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez, was more successful in terms of GDP. But the president was also lucky to have strong oil prices on his side. He distributed some of the wealth generated from oil sales back to the Venezuelan people through social programs but undermined the country’s democratic systems at the same time, engaging in cronyism, limiting the free press and getting rid of term limits. Also, heavy reliance on the oil sector weakened other parts of the country’s economy. Therefore, many argue that Chávez actually paved the way for the decline of the Venezuelan economy under Maduro.
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