Venezuela under Chavez: by the numbers

Double click to enlarge

Double click to enlarge

Hugo Chavez, the radical left-wing President of Venezuela, died last week.   What was his legacy?  His admirers say his policies changed the lives of poor and working people in Venezuela greatly for the better.   His critics say he left the Venezuelan economy in a shambles.  I think the figures on these infographics are as close as you can come to an objective answer.

The first infographic is from The Guardian newspaper in England.   It indicates that, during the Chavez administration, there was a big drop in the number of poor and unemployed Venezuelans, and the number of Venezuelan children who died in childbirth.  The overall Venezuelan economy was strong.  The value of oil exports rose, and economic output (GDP) increased.

However, the Chavez government was unable to bring down the high rate of inflation, and the value of Venezuela’s currency, the Bolivar, fell against the U.S. dollar.   Chavez’s worst failure was the rise in violent crime.   The murder rate almost doubled.

Double click to enlarge.

Double click to enlarge.

The next chart is from the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.  It basically tells the same story, but puts it in historic perspective, by showing figures prior to 1998 when Chavez was first elected.   Economic growth was less under his predecessors, and inflation was even worse.   The Brookings analysts said he “all but silenced” the opposition, but the charts show the opposition received a substantial portion of the vote in all four elections, and a larger percentage in the fourth than in the first.

The last infographic, below, is from RIA Novosti, the official Russian news agency.  It shows that while Venezuela’s oil revenues increased under the Chavez administration, oil production languished.  Chavez’s admirers say that this was a policy decision, for the purpose of keeping oil prices high (by avoiding a glut on the market) rather than depleting a non-renewable resource.  Chavez’s critics say it was a result of a failure of the government-owned oil company to invest in keeping up oil production, which would bode poorly for Venezuela’s future.  Maybe the truth is somewhere in between.

Double click to enlarge

Double click to enlarge

The Guardian, the Brookings Institution and RIA Novosti all get their figures from the same official sources, whose reliability is uncertain.  Who can know to a tenth of a percentage point how many extremely poor people there are in Venezuela?   As a wise friend once told me, official statistics may not exactly reflect reality, but, if they are gathered in the same way over a period of time, they are a good guide to the direction of change.

I think that what the figures indicate is that Hugo Chavez did more good than harm.


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2 Responses to “Venezuela under Chavez: by the numbers”

  1. Jeff Nguyen Says:

    Here’s a few more interesting facts about Chavez:


  2. Venezuela Receives 13 Russian Armored Vehicles « Says:

    […] Venezuela under Chavez: by the numbers ( […]


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