Venezuela’s social fabric will take years, if not decades, to mend. According to Transparency International, it’s now the most corrupt nation in Latin America. It’s also one of the most violent, with a staggering murder rate of 73 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.
And it’s easy to see the situation deteriorating further in the wake of Chavez’s death. The government armed and trained at least 25,000 civilians for a militia bent on “defending the revolution.” None of Chavez’s likely successors seems to command the loyalty (or even the sympathy) of these die-hard chavistas.
Disgruntled radical elements armed with Russian rifles could perpetrate even more violence in the months ahead. At the least, the deep hatred and mistrust that has divided Venezuelan society between followers and opponents of Hugo Chavez will outlive him.
Venezuela’s economy is one of his greatest casualties. The Fraser Institute’s latest Economic Freedom of the World report ranks Venezuela as the least free economy of 144 nations studied. The inflation rate is among the highest in the world.