When Russell Dallen, publisher of the Latin American Herald Tribune, asked guests attending the Center for Hemispheric Policy’s discussion on Venezuela this month to open the envelopes taped under their seats for a “special surprise,” no one could miss the irony in his voice. Inside were various denominations of the Venezuelan currency, the bolívar.
As Dallen explained, even as the Venezuelan government officially reports that the exchange rate is 6.3 bolívares to $1 US, the current black market rate is 135 times that, at 850 bolívares to $1. This meant that the “lucky” holder of 10 bolívares had won less than a cent.
All this to say that the current state of Venezuela’s economy is in shambles. In the socialist nation basic staples, such as milk and flour, are hard to find. Inflation is rising while oil production, once the nation’s dominant economic driver, continues to plummet.
Gathered at the Westin Colonnade Hotel in Coral Gables on November 12, Dallen and fellow panelists, Javier Corrales of Amherst College, Beatrice Rangel of AMLA Consulting, and Otto Reich, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, discussed the current situation in Venezuela and the possible effects of the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections, on December 6. Susan Kaufman Purcell, director of the CHP at the University of Miami, moderate the discussion.