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[10/18/16]  When Matt O’Brien updated his previous article on the slow-motion collapse of Venezuela on Monday for the Washington Post, he reviewed the symptoms achingly familiar to those following the events: the collapse of oil prices; the incompetence of the cronies running the state-owned oil company (former Marxist Hugo Chávez replaced the workers who knew what they were doing with political cronies who didn’t); the inflation of the currency followed as night follows day, with price controls to mask the resulting inflation; inflation, as measured by the black market’s pricing of the Venezuelan bolivar, causing the bolivar to lose more than 90 percent of its value in just two years; the empty supermarket shelves; the oppression by police of those standing in long lines to purchase whatever might be left in those stores; and on and on. As O’Brien lamented:

[Those economic policies have] left Venezuela’s supermarkets without enough food, its breweries without enough hops to make beer, and its factories without enough pulp to produce toilet paper.

And then he added: “It’s only going to get worse.”

Unfortunately, it already has. Starvation is leading to staggering rises in infant mortality, and prison riots are leading to cannibalism.

As this writer wrote back in August, “In short, the average Venezuelan lives in a prison forged by the socialism imposed by Chavez and Maduro. The country more and more resembles a concentration camp where the guards are deliberately starving the inmates.” This seemed to some at the time as an exaggeration.

It is not.

The problems facing the country were admitted by the current dictator, Nicolas Maduro, back in January when he declared an economic state of emergency. That was followed in May with a decree suspending all constitutional rights, leaving total power in his own hands. In July, he commanded Venezuelans to go to work in the fields for 60-day periods to help alleviate the food shortages that his previous proclamations had caused. He also allowed citizens to travel to neighboring Colombia to buy food and other supplies that were no longer available in his country. Some 300,000 of them took advantage, with many of them staying there.