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If you've ever wondered about what effects total economic collapse might have on a country in the 21st century, you need look no further than Venezuela. The 31 million residents of this South American country are currently suffering under an economy on the verge of collapse, with currency inflation forecasted to reach a staggering 720 percent this year (the highest in the world).
Some experts are calling this a “man-made disaster”, as the country's economy depends heavily on exporting petroleum. With crude oil prices falling, Venezuela's economy has struggled tremendously. The problem has been exacerbated by natural issues, since a drought has left hydroelectric plants unable to produce electricity reliably, leading to blackouts and electricity rationing.
This, in turn, has contributed to a rising murder rate (now the world's second highest per capita) and widespread looting and rioting throughout the country. Thousands of police and military personnel have been deployed to arrest protesters, and citizens have become increasingly angry with President Nicolas Maduro's socialist administration. Due to budget cuts, Venezuela's 2.5 million government employees are now only working two days a week.
On top of all this, rampant unemployment, low wages, and food shortages have left many families close to starvation. An article from Business Insider shows photographs of the meager contents of many Venezuelan refrigerators and pantries—sometimes little more than flour, rice, beans, cooking oil, and a handful of wilted vegetables. One resident told reporters, “We are eating badly… If you have the money, you can't find the foods, and if you find you them, you do not have enough money.”
It's currently unclear when the breaking point will be reached, but many experts predict a “total collapse of the economic system” in Venezuela is imminent. Some fear that this will lead to a military coup, or even all-out civil war.