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Today Venezuela has what could be described as an untraditional dictatorship – it takes pains to look like a democracy. Yet it is a totalitarian system. In the words of the congressman Juan Miguel Matheus, it is a cancer that invades each and every area of our social life. In an attempt to show how humane it is, the government recently released more than 50 political prisoners. But the destruction of basic living standards has been severe. In Venezuela, some 12 million people live on a minimum monthly mandated wage that, in April worked out to $1.61 on the black market exchange rate. Sociologist Maria Gabriela Ponce of the Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas estimates that 61 percent of Venezuelans are immersed in extreme poverty. More than 63 percent of Venezuelans have only one daily meal and scenes of people rummaging through the trash on the streets are common. Infant mortality rates have grown exponentially. Because there are no medical supplies or medicines in hospitals, patients with cancer, epilepsy and heart diseases, among others, needlessly die daily. Companies that produce medicine don’t have American dollars to buy raw material. Malnutrition is atrocious. But it is the only possible result in a country with more than 3 million children whose futures have been ruined by 21st-century socialism.

The Venezuelan crisis today is the result of more than 40 years of corrupt government and false promises that have created a climate of extreme dependence on the government. With people totally dependent on the government, Chavez and now Maduro could manipulate people as they wanted–keeping a lid on social unrest but destroying human dignity.

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Victor Mata, 2018 Acton intern, in a July commentary.