Three years ago I first heard the phrase “Brazil is on its way to becoming Argentina. Argentina is on its way to becoming Venezuela. And Venezuela is on its way to becoming…Zimbabwe”. At that moment (naïvely), I thought about it as a fatalist soundbite you could hear around El Cafetal while smirking in silence at the hyperbole.
Cut to the present day: While Brazil is struggling and Argentina fortunately veered away from its path towards “Argenzuela”, Venezuela is…well…actually resembling Zimbabwe 15 years ago, with every passing day.
Don’t believe me? Check out how The Economist puts you through a Spot the Difference test in its most recent piece about Venezuela.
“Might Venezuela go the way of Zimbabwe? They are culturally very different, but the political parallels are ominous. Both countries have suffered under charismatic revolutionary leaders. Robert Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980. Hugo Chávez ran Venezuela from 1998 until his death in 2013. His handpicked successor, Nicolás Maduro, continues his policies, though with none of Chávez’s—or Mr Mugabe’s—political adroitness.
Mr. Mugabe seized big commercial farms without compensation, wrecking Zimbabwe’s largest industry. Chávez expropriated businesses on a whim, sometimes on live television […]”
“Mr Mugabe has long blamed his country’s economic woes on speculators, traitors, imperialists and homosexuals. Mr Maduro, to his credit, doesn’t blame gay people. But he insists that local capitalists and their American allies are waging an “economic war” on Venezuela. This is absurd: in both economies the assaults have come from their own governments […].”
Venezuela-Zimbabwe parallels are no longer a joke. This is getting real. Soaring shortages getting worse by the day, spiraling inflation poised to become hyperinflation as per IMF 2016’s estimates (720% forecasted by year-end) and an endless et cetera of consequences created by a failed economic model.
At this rate, present-day Bs.2 banknotes will replace the 1989 ones as collectors items sooner than you think.