4 charts that show why Venezuelans are ready for change

Stéphanie Thomson
Writer, Forum Agenda
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In historic elections over the weekend, Venezuela’s opposition party, the MUD, won what the BBC are calling a supermajority. It marks the first major political shift in the legislative branch since former President Hugo Chávez came to power in 1999.

“Now begins the time for a change in Venezuela,” the MUD’s executive secretary told journalists. Change is what most people in the country have been demanding for a long time. The latest Pew poll shows that a whopping 85% of Venezuelans are not happy with the direction their country is taking.


The following four charts provide a snapshot of the situation in the country, and explain why so many of its people are ready for change.

Boom and bust

In the late 1970s, Venezuela was a Latin American success story, with one of the highest living standards in the region. Today, according to the World Bank, more than 25% of Venezuelans live below the poverty line. As this chart from Bloomberg shows, the situation looks even worse when you look at minimum wages based on the black market exchange rate.

poverty in venezuela

Not worth the paper it’s written on

Inflation in Venezuela rose to 68% last year, and some economists are even predicting it might soon hit triple figures. For a country that imports 70% of its consumer products, including food, it’s making even the basics like toilet paper and milk unaffordable for many Venezuelans.

Bolivian currency

Trailing behind

Venezuela is not only one of the least competitive countries in Latin America – it is also one of the worst performing globally, coming in at 132 out of the 140 economies that were assessed in this year’s Global Competitiveness Report. It finished last in the rankings for its labour market efficiency and its institutions.


Crime and punishment

Under Chávez, the government stopped publishing full crime statistics. But according to figures from the Venezuela Violence Observatory, Venezuela’s homicide rate for 2014 stood at an incredible 82 per 100,00 people – more than10 times the global average – making the country one of the most violent in the world.

Murders in Venezuela

Have you read?
Three ways Latin America is fighting back
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Can Latin America weather the Latin American storm?

Author: Stéphanie Thomson is an editor at the World Economic Forum

Image: An opposition supporter waves a Venezuelan national flag as she attends a rally in Caracas March 3, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

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