Not so well, it appears.  For starters, it’s a much more dangerous place to live in.

Venezuela now has more murders than Colombia – despite its neighbour being officially at war against Marxist guerillas.

Venezuela endures 48 murders for every 100,000 people each year. Britain, by contrast, has 2 per 100,000.

In Caracas the official rate is 130 per 100,000, a number which the Investigative Institute of Co-existence and Citizen Security, a think thank dedicated to the study of crime, insists is closer to 166, making Caracas twice as dangerous as Cape Town.

And the US rate is between 5 and 6 per 100,000.  So much for the "utopia" part.  Chavez, of course, blames the US.

And then there’s this, regarding Venezuela’s oil output.  Apparently, state planning isn’t all that efficient.  And apparently, bribing other countries with cheap oil is backfiring as well.

The state oil company, PDVSA, produced 3.2 million barrels per day in 1998, the year before Mr Chavez won the presidency. After a decade of rising corruption and inefficiency, daily output has now fallen to 2.4 million barrels, according to OPEC figures. About half of this oil is now delivered at a discount to Mr Chavez’s friends around Latin America. The 18 nations in his "Petrocaribe" club, founded in 2005, pay Venezuela only 30 per cent of the market price within 90 days, with rest in instalments spread over 25 years.

The other half – 1.2 million barrels per day – goes to America, Venezuela’s only genuinely paying customer.

Meanwhile, Mr Chavez has given PDVSA countless new tasks. "The new PDVSA is central to the social battle for the advance of our country," said Rafael Ramirez, the company’s president and the minister for petroleum. "We have worked to convert PDVSA into a key element for the social battle."

The company now grows food after Mr Chavez’s price controls emptied supermarket shelves of products like milk and eggs. Another branch produces furniture and domestic appliances in an effort to stem the flow of imports. What PDVSA seems unable to do is produce more oil.

The irony here is that Chavez routinely demonizes the United States, but without us he’d be just another tin pot despot, and his people would be much, much worse off than they are, which isn’t all that great.  So much for the "socialist" part.

Filed under: DougVenezuela

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