Earth is home to many terrible places. After this year, a couple countries come to mind. Abandoned Afghanistan, now under Taliban control, is inflicted by violent attacks — championing its title as one of the most oppressive regimes. Suffering Syria has been a warzone for a decade and still manages to disgorge traumatized refugees. Yield-lacking Yemen bears the worst starvation crisis, with its soldiers marching through conflict in the face of famine. Yet, for the past six years, another country has been dubbed the “most miserable” on Hanke’s Misery Index — Venezuela.
Perhaps that’s why I haven't seen as much media coverage. Has the Venezuelan crisis endured so long that we have forgotten it?
The numbers are striking. On the scale, Venezuela scored more than six times higher than Zimbabwe, the second most miserable country. Unfortunately, a myriad of horrors give it this deplorable status.
Let's start with economics. The Venezuelan inflation rate, at an all-time high, was 344,509.50 percent. Put in perspective, that means your $3 sandwich would cost over $1 million! The average house cost would be $130 billion. Clearly, people cannot afford bare essentials nor provide a basic quality of life for themselves. Food, water, and housing — what most Americans view as a necessity — is a privilege for Venezuelans. In 2019, the unemployment rate was nearly 50%, half the population, with the poverty rate surpassing 90%.
We shouldn’t solely talk about people like they are numbers on a report. Take the real example of Eduardo Limonche, a Venezuelan migrant: “The government… stole [our] income and paid terrible wages. Due to inflation, salaries were no longer worth anything. The minimum wage is $2 a month. How does a person with two children and a wife survive with $2 a month? It is impossible.”
It can't get worse than that, right? It can. Political corruption and violence permeate the already vulnerable Venezuela. As a once democratic state, Venezuela has lost such a tradition, becoming increasingly authoritarian. Votes are irrelevant, as President Maduro ensures that his opponents are jailed. Further, his policies fail to stem the tide of inflationary pressures. Like economics, justice has ceased to exist. Caracas, Venezuela, is known as the most dangerous city in Latin America, if not, the world. Over 90% of murders are undisciplined, making the nation a murderer’s paradise.
Of course, no one wants to live in such atrocious conditions. People are fleeing Venezuela at record speed, almost as if they’ve seen the devil. That’s because they have. At the same time, this has fueled a migration crisis in Latin America. This is where you come in. Supporting organizations such as IOM UN migration and the UNHCR can make all the difference, potentially rescuing a migrant from devastation. Inform yourself in the cause, as well. Although the "plagued" Venezuela may not appear in the headlines, pertinent stories are buried in almost all news outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post.
Six years is long enough. To remove Venezuela from its egregious position of the worst place to live, reform is necessary. After all, citizens can't endlessly migrate until the country is empty. While some of us may live within an economy that churns out necessary food and products, Venezuela’s churns out unemployment. Political promises, fueled by corruption wont work. A war must be declared on poverty.