A Country Verging on Collapse: A Reading List on Venezuela

A manufacturing entrepreneur is jailed over toilet paper in his factory’s restrooms. An American attorney and figure in a once-thriving expat community in Caracas is killed in a violent robbery. There are so many stories of people trying to live amid Venezuela’s instability and chaos. Here are five.

1. “Venezuela Is Falling Apart.” (Moises Naim and Francisco Toro, The Atlantic, May 2016)

“What our country is going through is monstrously unique: It’s nothing less than the collapse of a large, wealthy, seemingly modern, seemingly democratic nation just a few hours’ flight from the United States.” The day-to-day stories of Venezuelans reveal the collapse of the country on all fronts.

2. “Emptying the Tower of David, the World’s Tallest Ghetto.” (Boris Munoz, Vocativ, December 2014)

Boris Munoz reflects on the future of Venezuela as seen through the Tower of David, the infamous 28-story slum in Caracas that has long reflected the country’s hopes and failures.

3. “American John Pate Murdered in Venezuela as Violence Spikes.” (Jessica Weiss, Miami New Times, October 2015)

“Pate embodied an enduring belief in law and order in a country where many fear it no longer exists.” Jessica Weiss recounts the violent death of John Pate, an expatriate attorney who continued to live in and love Venezuela, despite the growing instability and violence in the country.

4. “Venezuela’s Dispossessed.” (Matthew Fishbane, Tablet, January 2012)

About half of Venezuela’s Jewish community fled the country under former president Hugo Chávez. Matthew Fishbane explores whether or not the other half will follow, and tells the stories of people who have found a sense of home and place in Venezuela over the decades.

5. “Slumlord.” (Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, January 2013)

“After nearly a generation, Chávez leaves his countrymen with many unanswered questions and only one certainty: the revolution that he tried to bring about never really took place. It began with Chávez, and with him, most likely, it will end.” In this 2013 piece, Anderson describes his time in Caracas, from exploring its invasores to spending time with Alexander (El Niño) Daza, the boss of the Tower of David.