Venezuela takes tentative steps towards market reform

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Gideon Long in Caracas

Two decades after Hugo Chávez launched the Bolivarian Revolution meant to free Venezuela from capitalism and turn it into a socialist idyll, the country looks more capitalist than it has for years — at least on the surface.

The government of Nicolás Maduro still pays homage to the tenets of the revolution. Portraits of Chávez adorn the walls of government buildings, and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela remains firmly in control, having recently retaken congress from the fragmented opposition.

But squeezed by US sanctions and faced with an economy that has shrunk more than 80 per cent since he came to power in 2013, Mr Maduro is increasingly reaching into the free-market toolbox to revive the country’s fortunes.