capitalist Colombia and socialist Venezuela

Colombia is what a well-run capitalist nation looks like. Its eastern neighbor, Venezuela, is what a disastrously governed socialist nation looks like.

These days, the dichotomy is best encapsulated at the Colombia-Venezuelan border.

Every day, at various points along the border, tens of thousands of Venezuelans enter Colombia to find food, medicine, and other provisions. They do so, because unless you’re a Maduro-elite like Delcy Rodriguez, the necessities of life are no longer available in Venezuela. Seeking goods or charity in Colombia, then, isn’t so much an opportunity for Venezuelans as it is a necessary function of their continued existence.

Yet the contrast between Colombia and Venezuela is not accidental. Instead, it’s a reflection of Colombia’s better government and its commitment to free enterprise and the rule of law. Colombia is on a sharp upward path from its decades-long wars against narcotraffickers and communist guerrillas. At the same time, Venezuela is descending from relative wealth into a failed socialist state.

Yes, with an average economic growth rate of just under 1 percent, Colombia hasn’t boomed over the last decade. But what it has done is lay the foundation for its better future. Under current president, Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian government has worked hard to forge lasting peace deals with once intractable left and right wing paramilitaries. Santos has also presided over an aggressive outreach to foreign investors. Santander banking group now assesses that investor protections in Colombia are some of the strongest in the world, adding that,

“In Colombia, [foreign direct investment] benefits from a very attractive legislative framework… The ratification of a bilateral free trade agreement with the U.S. in October 2011 and the establishment of special regulations in the free-trade zones have contributed to improving the country’s attractiveness. Moreover, the richness of its natural resources and a significant domestic market…

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