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The Graphic Truth: Economic turmoil in Venezuela

A graph comparing Venezuela's GDP per capita with the average price of crude oil.

A graph comparing Venezuela's GDP per capita with the average price of crude oil.

Paige Fusco

Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves but a combination of corruption, mismanagement, and tough US sanctions since the Maduro regime came to power in 2013 has meant that the petrostate has failed to benefit from its vast reserves of liquid gold.

While high oil prices under the Chavez regime in the early 2000s gave a boost to Venezuela’s middle class, US sanctions first imposed in 2006 – and significantly ramped up under the Obama and Trump administrations – have cut Caracas off from US financial systems.

Economic hardship is rife, with a staggering 50% of people living in extreme poverty. Pervasive hopelessness has also led to one of the worst migrant crises in the world.

In a bid to offset a global energy crisis in 2022 as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Biden administration began lifting some sanctions on the Venezuelan oil sector. So how are things faring? We look at GDP per capita and corresponding oil prices since 1999.

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