It wasn't supposed to turn out this way. Venezuela was going to be a workers' paradise. President Hugo Chávez said so and declared early into his first term, in 1999, that Venezuela and Cuba would sail toward the same “sea of happiness.” Not surprisingly, Venezuela is now a workers' hell.
Authoritarian and dysfunctional, the oil-rich yet impoverished South American nation of 31 million people suffers dire food shortages; soaring levels of violent crime (28,479 deaths reported last year); and epic levels of corruption and drug trafficking. Unemployment is soaring – not surprising given that large swaths of the economy have been nationalized. Venezuela's court-ordered seizure of a General Motors plant is the latest such calamity.