The condition of Venezuela’s oil business is like the valve on this crude oil pump—a mess! (AP)

The condition of Venezuela’s oil business is like the valve on this crude oil pump—a mess! (AP)

Sisters Kasandra (left) and Britsaydi play near an old oil pump. Their life is harder since the government squandered Venezuela’s oil wealth. (AP)

Sisters Kasandra (left) and Britsaydi play near an old oil pump. Their life is harder since the government squandered Venezuela’s oil wealth. (AP)

Some people still support socialist President Nicolas Maduro (left drawing), in power since the death of President Hugo Chavez (right). (AP)

Some people still support socialist President Nicolas Maduro (left drawing), in power since the death of President Hugo Chavez (right). (AP)

Marielis Durrego learns to sew in a shoe making factory. Some oil wealth was spent on the poor. But unwise programs discouraged businesses. (AP)

Marielis Durrego learns to sew in a shoe making factory. Some oil wealth was spent on the poor. But unwise programs discouraged businesses. (AP)

Nurses protest how little their pay will buy. Inflation has made the Bolivar (Venezuelan money) worth almost nothing. (AP)

Nurses protest how little their pay will buy. Inflation has made the Bolivar (Venezuelan money) worth almost nothing. (AP)

Caracas, Venezuela, was once one of the most thriving cities in South America. (AP)

Caracas, Venezuela, was once one of the most thriving cities in South America. (AP)

What Went Wrong?

Posted: December 31, 2018

In Venezuela, waves crash on lovely Caribbean beaches. Snow caps mountains. Water crashes down Angel Falls, the tallest waterfall in the world. One of Earth’s longest rivers, the Orinoco, brings life to soil and animals as it flows through the land. Deep underground, wealth-bringing oil waits for drilling. When God made Venezuela, He made a stunning place! Why would Ms. Cadiz, Angelis, and almost two million others take such a dangerous journey to leave it?

It’s because life in Venezuela is very difficult, and has been for a long time. In 1999, a ruler named Hugo Chavez came to power there. His socialist government used wealth from oil to pay for social programs. The programs decreased the prices of goods so more people could buy them. For a while, that worked. More people had clean drinking water. More children could go to school. But then the price of oil dropped. Venezuela used to sell it for $100 a barrel. Soon it sold for only $30 a barrel! The government could not pay for its programs anymore. But officials still slashed prices on many products. Soon it cost less to buy a bag of corn flour than it cost to make one. Farmers did the math. They thought: Why grow corn? We will not get paid enough to make it worthwhile! The same thing happened with other products too. Many companies and businesses failed. People stopped creating new wealth. Venezuelan money bought less and less. Soon, even basic goods were scarce and the prices increased. They became too expensive for people to buy.

The Bible says that “when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Proverbs 29:2) Venezuelans are tired of groaning—so they are running away from the beautiful country they call home. What is it like to live in Venezuela now? You can’t buy toilet paper or milk. Diseases spread but you cannot get medicine. Violent crime gets worse and worse as people become more desperate. People have tried to get rid of leaders who manage God-given resources so badly. But the rulers say, “We are in charge. We will do what we want!”

Will the trouble keep going? Right now, there is no end in sight.