Dispatches from a Crude Collapse: Venezuela

Dispatches from a Crude Collapse: Venezuela

Today the price of oil sunk to a thirteen year low. Now the price of a barrel is less than $27. That hasn’t happened since 2003.

For the next few weeks Marketplace will be visiting places in which oil revenue matters.

We’re calling our series “Dispatches from a Crude Collapse.” It’s a collaborative look with our partners at the BBC at the effects of falling oil prices on a range of countries.

Our first stop is Venezuela. The BBC’s Daniel Pardo is reporting from Caracas, Venezuela and he explains that though the country has more proven oil reserves than any other country on the planet, its economy is in the tank.

That means things like the country’s social welfare programs could be in trouble. One example is Venezuela’s health program. The government has established hundreds of ambulatory care centers around the country. But Pardo said the majority of them are not functioning.

“According to the opposition, 68 percent of those centers are not working,” Pardo said.

That’s just one example.

Though the government, run by Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, is brainstorming ways to increase production through programs not dependent on oil, those strategies are a long way out.

There’s even a possibility that Maduro could be overthrown by his opposition if he can’t get the economic situation under control soon.

“Many people are predicting that this government is not going to be able to stay in power,” Pardo said.