Counting the Cost

How close is Venezuela to the brink of total collapse?

An ongoing economic crisis in Venezuela has largely affected the population’s access to food and medicine.

They call it the Maduro diet. Many people in Venezuela cannot get access to food and are suffering from malnutrition on a widespread level. Over the past year, 74 percent of Venezuelans lost an average of 8.7 kilos in weight and critics are blaming the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

As Venezuela’s economic crisis keeps getting worse, anger is growing with a president who is failing to meet the people’s most basic needs. Theresa Bo reports on how desperation and anger are driving street protests.

But will this lead to Venezuela defaulting on its loans?

Inflation is out of control and is expected to rise to a staggering 1,660 percent this year. According to the Intenational Monetary Fund, next year’s projection is even higher as the government is running out of cash.

There is no money left for imports such as food and medicine. But somehow Maduro has managed to keep making bond payments to creditors and prevent the country from falling into debt default.

There are worries, too, about the state-run oil company, a key source of government revenue. A lack of investment there means production is falling. Almost all of Venezuela’s exports are oil products.

Carlos Pio, professor of international political economy at the University of Brasilia joins us from Sao Paulo with his view on what needs to happen to change the situation for ordinary Venezuelans.

Also on this episode of Counting the Cost :

France in Focus: In a couple of weeks, the eurozone’s second-biggest economy will have a new president. The first round of voting in France will be held on April 23.

People all over Europe are paying attention because the country’s position at the heart of the European Union could be at stake. Of the top four candidates leading in the polls, two want France to pull out of the bloc. Meanwhile, up to two-thirds of voters are still undecided.

Jean-Marc Daniel, an economist at ESCP Business School, tells us why people want change and what’s at stake for the French way of life.

United Airlines fiasco: It can take 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it, so the saying goes. Well, that’s exactly what happened to United Airlines when it became the No. 1 trending topic on Chinese social media. The US airline faced global outrage after videos went viral showing the violent removal of a passenger from a domestic flight.

David Dao suffered facial injuries when he was pulled off the overbooked flight. His lawyers hope the case will lead to changes in the industry.

John Hendren reports from Washington, DC.

Ecuador chocolate: Ecuador’s chocolate is famous the world over for its high quality. But its farmers have rarely tasted the benefits of this success, despite the country’s massive exports. A new cooperative of farmers is seeking to change that, as Daniel Schweimler reports.

Marijuana legalisation: The Canadian government has unveiled legislation to fully legalise the recreational use of marijuana. According to a bill tabled in parliament, cannabis use will no longer be a crime from July 1. The bill comes with huge public support, but some are questioning who would reap the benefits of such a move. Daniel Lak reports from Toronto.

Toshiba: The survival of Japanese conglomerate Toshiba is under threat after it posted major losses. The company may even be removed from trading on the Tokyo stock exchange because its auditors did not sign off on its earnings report, as Tom Ackerman reports.