There is an old adage used to indicate a superfluous activity, it likens the act to carrying coals to Newcastle. Newcastle is a coal-rich area in England, so why would anyone bring more.
A recent piece in the New York Times illustrates a variation on the coals to Newcastle concept. Not coal in this case, but oil. Not Newcastle but Venezuela. The oil-rich South American country is now, paradoxically, buying oil from the United States. Not that Venezuela has exhausted its oil reserves, but the process of drilling for and refining the crude has come to a screeching halt for reasons that run the gamut from mismanagement to vandalism to corruption. Should the country’s oil production continue to be stalled, the world will feel the pinch at the gas pumps.
In the article Helima Croft, the chief commodity strategist for the Royal Bank of Canada states “A collapse in Venezuela would be an accelerator for oil prices; it would be a total shock. This country is literally imploding.” She added that currently “There is no oil producer that is falling apart as fast as or as dramatically as Venezuela.”
I have in-laws living in Venezuela who provide me first-hand accounts of the chaos, the implosion, that has befallen their beautiful country. Staples including milk, bread, and over-the-counter medications are either not available or are in such short supply that long lines form outside stores in Caracas. Thousands of Venezuelans cross the border into Colombia when possible to stock-up on basics such as toilet paper and flour.
Opposition-led protests draw hundreds of thousands to the streets, but fall on the deaf ears of the government. Faith in the electoral system has been eroded by numerous dodgy votes. Shady voter registration and old fashioned ballot-box shenanigans have instilled a sense of severe distrust in the democratic process.
For many living there the anger and frustration are creating a feeling of living on a powder-keg that will, unless radical change is implemented soon, explode. Here’s hoping a peaceful solution can be arrived at, but I fear the time may have passed for that.