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 are Colombia's main assets."
Santander assesses Venezuela very differently.
It notes that "Venezuela's uncertain business climate born of the 'Bolivarian' reforms (infringement of private property rights, foreign currency controls, increasing regulations, nationalizations, etc.) and the ineffectiveness of the port system are some of the various hindrances to investment... the 'Bolivarian' socialism pursued by the rather interventionist government hinders the increase of [foreign direct investment] flows. As such, Venezuela is ranked 187th out of 190 in the Doing Business ranking established by the World Bank."
That ranking is worse than those of the war-torn nations of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Only Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia are worse than Venezuela.
Ultimately, the dichotomy between Colombia and Venezuela speaks to one underlying truth. Trusting in the rule of law and free markets, Colombia is thriving. But in 2017, under rabbit-lunatic Maduro, the land with Earth's largest oil reserves is now a realm of beggars and brigands, where teachers and even doctors are forced into prostitution just to feed themselves.