Nearly 2 million Venezuelans have fled their country since the late strongman Hugo Chávez took office in 1999 and put his country on the path to socialist revolution, according to Tomás Páez, a sociologist at Venezuela’s Central University who wrote a book on the diaspora. The numbers have accelerated since President Nicolás Maduro took over in 2013, Mr. Páez said, with businessmen, university professors, farmers and oil workers abandoning a country riven by authoritarian rule and protests. Venezuelans are flooding particularly into neighboring Colombia and Brazil. They have boarded boats bound for Caribbean islands. In the U.S., their asylum requests have surged, while the sight of them selling cornmeal cakes known as arepas has become a commonplace in the Peruvian capital, Lima.
The exodus of doctors is exacerbating the already serious strain on Venezuela’s once-vaunted public-health system, which has been crippled by dilapidated hospitals and shortages of medicine, supplies and equipment. Figures released last month by the country’s health ministry showed maternal mortality there increased by 66% last year; infant mortality, which rose by 30% last year, is now higher in Venezuela than in war-torn Syria. Malaria and diphtheria rates are soaring amid shortages of insect repellents, vaccinations, and public-health funding.
The Venezuelan Federation of Doctors estimates that some 16,000 doctors have left in 12 years, moving as far away as Spain and Australia.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appears to have had success in bringing health and education to the people in the poor neighborhoods of Caracas. ... It is not only important to have sustainable growth, but to ensure the best distribution of economic growth, for the benefit of all citizens.
Can policy make a difference to inequality? In particular, can governments reduce inequality without killing the economy? As part of class prep, I’ve been looking at a story that has received very little discussion here, as far as I can tell, but is very interesting, to say the least: the remarkable decline in inequality that has taken place in Latin America. But wait — aren’t Latin nations extremely unequal? Yes, they are — still. But not as much as before. The region moved left politically circa 2000, partially turning its back on the Washington Consensus — and there has been a dramatic reversal in inequality trends. What about economic performance? The study linked above divides regimes into three kinds: Social Democratic (e.g. Brazil), Left-populist (e.g. Venezuela), and non-LOC (left of center):
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