It apparently started when Hugo Chavez, the discount store Fidel Castro, was still alive. He made a deal with Colombian Marxist guerillas to provide him drugs in return for arms. The reaction to the drug trade news from Chavez’ successor, Nicolas Maduro, is to sue news outlets that report the scandals.
In a way, this is not surprising. Venezuela, home of the self-styled Bolivarian revolution, has been rotting from within for some time. High oil prices provided fuel for a populist spending frenzy without providing any other outlet for economic growth. Inflation is rampant. Current low prices have all but bankrupted the country. Venezuela has the world’s second highest murder rate (after another drug transit point, Honduras).
Whether the drug trade revelations will weaken the mythical hold of Venezuela over its leftist friends in South America remains to be seen. The governments of Brazil Ecuador, Argentina and Bolivia seem to have a crush on anyone who wears a beret and uses the word imperialism more than five times a day.
Here’s a Foreign Policy article on a book that details the revelations.
An overview on the Venezuelan drug role.
Jackson Diehl muses on possible effects.
On Venezuela’s economic problems.