MARACAIBO, Venezuela — Zimbabwe’s collapse under Robert Mugabe. The fall of the Soviet Union. Cuba’s disastrous unraveling in the 1990s.

People shopping for unrefrigerated offal and other beef byproducts at the flea market in Maracaibo, Venezuela.CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

The collapse of Venezuela’s economy has surpassed all those disasters.

Venezuela is experiencing the biggest economic collapse in a country without war in at least 45 years, according to economists.

Jenifer Del Valle Vejar Martínez sitting with her two-month-old baby during a blackout.CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

“It’s really hard to think of a human tragedy of this scale outside civil war,” said Kenneth Rogoff, an economics professor at Harvard University and former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “This will be a touchstone of disastrous policies for decades to come.”

To find similar levels of economic devastation, IMF economists mention countries devastated by war, such as Libya earlier this decade or Lebanon in the 1970s.

The hospital in Toas Island is empty — its last patient died without care. Nearby, two-year-old Anailin, left, is wasting away from severe malnutrition and treatable muscular paralysis.CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

However, Venezuela, which was once the richest country in Latin America, has not been shattered by armed conflict.

Daniel González, 53, taking care of his children and his neighbor’s in Maracaibo’s Arco Iris shantytown.CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

According to economists, the bad government, corruption and wrong policies of President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, unleashed a rampant inflation that closed businesses and destroyed the country.

Vendors with bags of worthless cash at their stall in Maracaibo’s flea market.CreditMeridith Kohut for The New York Times

In addition, in recent months, the Trump administration has imposed harsh sanctions to try to paralyze this nation even more.

Click here to read the New York Time’s full report on Venezuela’s collapse.

 

 

Article originally appeared on Today Venezuela and is republished here with permission.