When the famed Chilean author, Isabel Allende, had to leave her native country in the wake of the military coup against leftist president Salvador Allende in 1973, she and her family fled to the safety and stability of Venezuela, then a beacon among the tumult of Latin America. In a recent interview, Ms. Allende recounted,
“I went to Venezuela, because Venezuela was one of the very few democratic countries left in Latin America where you could go. … The country has all the resources. At the time when I went there in the ‘70s it was one of the richest countries in the world because of the oil boom. The problem, at that time, everything looked very abundant and there was a lot of corruption, but there was enough corruption for everybody.”
The contrast between Venezuela of the 1960s and 1970s – when it had a per capita GDP six times higher than Spain and was the first country in the world to be declared malaria-free – and today is a sober reminder that stability can be ephemeral.