Venezuela has so far avoided the fate of its neighbor Colombia, a country still deep in a long civil war with Marxist guerrillas and drug cartels. This is largely due to the deep pockets oil has afforded the government, which allowed for state presence even in the most remote corners of the country. It is hard to see how that presence can be maintained if oil rents were to dry up significantly, and for a prolonged period. This could lead to the type of problems that have bedeviled Colombia, or even poorer neighboring failed states such as Haiti.
Even though its problems are of its own making, the thought of a large, failed state in the heart of the Western Hemisphere should trouble the continent’s leaders.