In Venezuela, the dream of popular socialism is collapsing into empty stores, hospitals without medicine, rolling electricity blackouts and actual hunger. Inflation is (depending on who you ask) 720%, 900%, or even 2,000%. Nice summary here.
Chavismo –as Venezuelans call the system created by now dead dictator Hugo Chavez – never worked very well, but during the days of high oil prices it worked well enough. Now that oil prices have collapsed, the Venezuelan economy is collapsing along with them. Venezuelans are paying a high price for supporting a government of Marxist nincompoops.
But as I have noted before, Chavismo didn't come from nowhere. Chavez was hugely popular among Venezuela's poor, and he came to power in an election that most people think was fair; he won two more-or-less fair re-election battles, the last time with more than 60 percent of the vote. Poor Venezuelans supported him because under the previous government both major parties were infamously corrupt and their leaders routinely lied to voters or made promises they didn't even try to keep. (Viz., Carlos Andrés Pérez was elected president in 1989 on a platform of repudiating the demands of the IMF and the US and renegotiating Venezuela's debts, but once elected he did nothing of the kind, instead following the IMF's "reform" dictates to the letter.)
Venezuela strikes me as a cautionary tale about capitalist democracy. If you spit on the poor long enough, and make much of the middle class worry that they will soon be among the poor, the voters will eventually turn against your sensible middle of the road economic plans and find somebody with more radical ideas. Trump and Sanders are warning shots that the American elite ought to take more seriously. If people like the Koch brothers want to remain rich and safe, they should stop fighting any plan to make the poor better off and start spending their billions searching for ways to help.