In the wake of a devastating economic collapse, is Venezuela moving towards a free and open economy? Facing few other options, President Nicolás Maduro has presented a plan to begin the privatization of the state-owned oil industry by giving up majority control to several international corporations. Venezuelan think tank Centro de Divulgacion del Conocimiento Economico para la Libertad (CEDICE) believes opening oil to private investment is a step in the right direction.
CEDICE, with the support of Atlas Network, has been working toward economic freedom in Venezuela by launching research and outreach initiatives to push for positive policy change. One of their projects, “Citizen Oil,” reached the highest levels of government and was included in “Plan Pais” by President of the National Assembly of Venezuela and proclaimed “Acting President” Juan Guaido. Plan Pais is Guaido’s proposal to revitalize the severely depressed economy and improve infrastructure and public services. CEDICE contends that a more free-market approach to industry is the answer to Venezuela’s stagnation. They argue that participation by individuals and private corporations increases efficiency and effectiveness and the oil industry in particular is the key to freeing the rest of the economy from state control.
Venezuela has operated under a socialist regime since 1999, and both the people and the economy have suffered. The country is experiencing runaway inflation, and waves of Venezuelans have fled in search of more optimistic climates. Pursuing economic freedom may be the solution to many of these hardships. Maduro seems to realize this; prior to the proposal for private investment in state oil, growth of a limited market economy has already been tacitly allowed. By opening one of the most profitable industries to private investment in a state-approved move, Venezuela and its people can have hope for a reenergized state, the ability to provide for themselves and their families, and opportunities for personal growth and advancement.
Citizen Oil Coordinator David Ludovic Jorge agrees this is a positive move but continues to look toward future possibilities: “What is more important is to establish procedures that allow the common citizens to access a share of the main oil company in the country. This measure would give Venezuelans a true economic freedom—as they will be able to use their money in what they really want.”
While Venezuela is only beginning on their journey to economic freedom, taking these first steps are necessary to open the door to a bright and prosperous future.