Venezuala, with a population smaller than Canada’s, suffers more homicides than the United States. Robberies at gunpoint — “express kidnappings” as they are called — are regular occurrences in middle-class neighborhoods. And if middle-class neighborhoods evince any disaffection from the regime, they lose what little police protection they have, or even discover the police suddenly abetting and aiding the criminals that prey upon their community.

Property is seized. Businesses are arbitrarily nationalized. Conversations are eavesdropped upon. The Internet is policed, at least to the best of the (very limited) ability of Venezuela’s not very competent security forces.

Hugo Chavez has laid Venezuela’s economy to waste. One of the world’s great energy producers must turn its streetlamps off at night. One of the world’s wealthiest exporters cannot afford to import enough food. One of the world’s energy superpowers is seeing its production slowly dwindle away because of chronic under-investment in the oil fields and the loss of access to technology as foreign companies are harassed and expropriated.