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And the predictable slide of socialism.

The transformation also brought some relief to the millions of Venezuelans who have family abroad and can now receive, and spend, their dollar remittances on imported food.

But the boom has also come at a cost.

The new free market economy completely excludes the half of Venezuelans without access to dollars. This exacerbated inequality, that most capitalist of ills, and undercut Mr. Maduro’s claim of preserving the legacy of greater social equality left by his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, and his “Bolivarian Revolution.”

In his speeches, Mr. Maduro continues to promote a vision of Venezuela in which its resources are shared by all, but the gap between the rhetoric and the reality is greater than ever, said Ramiro Molino, an economist at Caracas’s Andrés Bello Catholic University.

How is it a free market if it excludes half the people? In short, it’s not. The elites almost always benefit under any system, regardless of what it’s called or how it’s reported.