If Venezuela Implodes, Will Its Neighbors Be Ready?

Sunday, August 23, 2015
By Paul Martin

David Shipley
Bloomberg.com
AUG 19, 2015

Venezuela is slipping toward a humanitarian crisis. News of its latest economic low point, or of President Nicolas Maduro’s most recent political tantrum, tends to eclipse this slow-motion disaster. Yet the danger of a Venezuelan implosion is growing.

Perhaps you’re aware that Venezuela has the world’s highest inflation rate, a collapsing currency and every prospect of defaulting on its debts next year. You may have read about shortages of consumer goods (everything from milk and bread to beer and condoms), and the effort required to obtain hard currency (kidnapping purebred dogs to sell in Brazil is one way).

Here are some things you might have missed. In the country with the world’s largest oil reserves, transplant patients have resorted to veterinary medicines to stay alive. Coagulants for treating hemophilia are available only for emergencies. Medicines of every kind are getting hard to find outside the cities. Malaria and dengue fever are on the rise; so is malnutrition, although the government stopped publishing weekly epidemiological bulletins last November and denies that thousands of doctors are resigning and emigrating.

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