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Pope Francis, Populism, and the Agony of Latin America


Venezuela is now in an advanced state of political and economic collapse. Such is the fruit of seventeen years of the “21st century socialism” pioneered by Hugo Chávez and pursued by his successor Nicolás Maduro. On a daily basis, the reality of Venezuelans is one of empty shops, massive corruption, triple-digit inflation, an absence of necessities like food and medicine, and omnipresent violence as law and order breaks down. This is the logical consequence of a populist regime that, in the name of “the people,” nationalized entire industries, demolished the central bank’s independence, ploughed oil-revenues into inefficient and corrupt state-owned enterprises, printed money to cover escalating government spending, and then tried to control the rapidly-deteriorating situation through price and currency controls.

Politically-speaking, Venezuela is now one of the world’s most polarized and repressed societies. The government regularly uses the police and its own “national militia” to terrorize its critics. Most of the press has been muzzled and the judiciary’s independence severely compromised. Civil society has, for all intents and purposes, been pulverized—all in the name of the people’s socialist revolution.


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