Less than a year after the death of former dictator Hugo Chavez, Venezuela is on the verge of an economic breakdown. Inflation is soaring; the currency, the bolivar, is drastically losing value on the black market; and foreign currency reserves are dwindling. Even Venezuela's once vaunted energy sector, crippled by lack of investment, is failing to generate enough revenue to subsidize domestic giveaways.
"There is a difference between Venezuela and the rest of Latin America, which now has very solid macroeconomy fundamentals," Juan Pablo Fuentes, an economist at Moody's Analytics, told CNBC. "The macroeconomy for the last 20 years has been very mismanaged [in Venezuela]."
This month, hundreds of people across Venezuela clamored to get into electronics stores—some of them occupied by soldiers—after the government ordered merchants to cut prices. Soaring inflation has put appliances and other goods beyond the reach of most of the population. Rather than acknowledge what most experts agree is the role of governmental policies in causing rampant inflation, President Nicolás Maduro pointed the finger at retailers themselves.
Replicating the Chavez style, Maduro has blamed the private sector for the country's problems, and last week the government signed a decree capping profit margins and further tightening import regulations. His moves drew praise from supporters, but condemnation from critics of the government.
"You can't beat inflation by decrees but with sensible economic policies," the opposition coalition said in a statement.
Venezuelan officials in New York and Washington were unavailable for comment for this story.