Hugo Chavez Got Re-Elected Because His Programs Are Popular
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Although the media has been dominated by stories of Venezuela’s impending economic collapse for more than a decade, it hasn’t happened and is not likely to happen. After recovering from a recession that began in 2009, during the world economic crisis, the Venezuelan economy has been growing for two-and-a-half years now and inflation has fallen sharply while growth has accelerated. The country has a sizeable trade surplus. Its public debt is relatively low and so is its debt service burden. It has plenty of room to borrow foreign currency (it has borrowed $36 billion from China, mostly at very low interest rates), and can borrow domestically as well at low or negative real interest rates. So even if oil prices were to crash temporarily (as in 2008-2009), there would be no need for austerity or recession. And hardly anyone is predicting a long-term collapse of oil prices.
The U.S. economic embargo against Cuba has persisted for more than half a century, despite its obvious stupidity and failure. U.S. hostility toward Venezuela is only about 12 years old, but shows no sign of being reconsidered, despite that it is also alienating the rest of the hemisphere.
Venezuela has about 500 billion barrels of oil and is burning them currently at a rate of one billion barrels a year. Chávez or a successor from the same party will likely be governing the country for many years to come. The only question is when – if ever – Washington will accept the results of democratic change in the region.