Venezuela is no longer being led by politicians. Sadly, the country is now being governed by thugs, criminals, and narcos; a cesspool of corruption and violence disguised as a benevolent socialist revolution. The socialist experiment designed by Mr. Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, has led to one of the worst catastrophes in Latin American history. Venezuela is crying for help, gasping for its last breath before it collapses entirely and becomes an unquestionable failed state.

Since 2014, the UN has documented that at least 2.3 million have fled Venezuela in search of a better life. Whether these people should be classified as migrants or refugees is a discussion in itself. A migrant chooses to move and a refugee is forced to move. One could argue that in Venezuela’s case there is a mixture of both, painting the issue less black and white. 

As of November 2018, between 2.4 million and 4 million Venezuelans were documented to live abroad. According to estimates, 5,000 people continue to abandon Venezuela every day. By applying simple math, it is feasible to project that within a year an additional 1.8 million Venezuelans will migrate abroad, pushing the exodus total between 4.2 million and 5.8 million Venezuelans fleeing the oppressive Maduro regime.  

Let’s put these numbers into context. Syria, since 2013, has witnessed an exodus of approximately 6.3 million people due to war and oppression from the Assad regime and the Muslim extremist group Daesh. Moreover, the Syrian diaspora is often considered the worst man-made disaster since World War II. Sadly, and shocking at the same time, Venezuela is not too far from that troubling distinction. In fact, the exodus in Venezuela has probably surpassed similar diaspora in Afghanistan and South Sudan—since 2013 and beyond.

So how bad is it in Venezuela? Reports from journalists document that certain cities are essentially zombie towns, resembling the hit TV series The Walking Dead, where shattered people walk along the streets malnourished, sick, yearning in any possible manner to find food, basic medicine, antibiotics, toilet paper, diapers—much less basic human rights such as safety, security, and freedom of speech. This is what happens when an economy is in total chaos, destroyed by the naiveté of a controlled economy, price controls, and the nationalization of private industries (raw socialism) and its poisonous venom against free markets, individual liberty, and the dignified pursuit of happiness and freedom. 

Assessing Venezuela should no longer be a foreign policy issue of conservative or liberal ideology. It is time the crisis is be seen through the lens of what is right or wrong. The U.S. administration and other Latin American and European countries are reluctant to let Venezuela free fall into a 20th century version of Cuba Lite. Permitting Venezuela to survive under Maduro will exacerbate a contagion of instability not only in Latin America but also in the U.S. due to Venezuela’s insistence on providing safe havens for the drug trade cartels and narco terrorist groups such as the Colombian ELN.

But before we hear resistance from those claiming that we should respect Venezuela’s sovereignty coupled with the shallow argument that the Venezuelan crisis, diaspora, and precarious instability must be solved by Venezuelans themselves, imagine if the U.S applied the same school of thought during World War I and World War II. In this instance, isolationism isn’t the answer; as the proverb so wisely states no man or woman is an island…well the same philosophy can be applied to nation states.

The stakes are high in Venezuela. A country that once believed in democracy has morphed into a repressive regime. A country that was considered one of the top 10 richest countries in the 1950s, an example of  stability and opportunity in Latin America is now mired with inflation exceeding 1.7 million (per The Economist), a GDP that has been sliced and diced by half (50%) in a rapid fashion, a country that was once the 20th happiest country as recent as 2013 (according to the World Happiness Report) is now experiencing a total annihilation of health care services where babies are deprived of basic nourishment and the child mortality rate has skyrocketed to alarming figures. For what is worth, these days Venezuela ranks 102nd on that same happiness report (2018).

Amazingly, there is a glimmer of hope in Venezuela. The alternative shaped in the National Assembly leader, Mr. Guaido, is the answer for Venezuela’s short-term future. Several Latin American countries, the majority of Western Europe, and the U.S. are on the side of democracy and free and fair elections by declaring Mr. Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela until new free and fair elections are held. This is the right course of action, not just for the sake of politics, but for compassion and humanity in Venezuela.

Just a few days ago, the illegitimate Venezuelan President Mr. Maduro blocked the much-needed humanitarian aid such as food and medicine from entering the borders of Venezuela. In response to this horrid gesture, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio described the Maduro regime not as a government but a criminal enterprise. Senator Rubio is correct. It is now clear that Venezuela is no longer being led by politicians. Sadly, the country is now being governed by thugs, criminals, and narcos.

But it’s difficult to think about value when we have no buoy for understanding it outside our traditional lenses: for example, our time, our job, and what others tell us they are worth in cash. This, largely, is the world’s paradigm for value so far. But understanding what value really means changes everything—and will be at the center of the decentralized revolution in global coordination that will unfold over the next decade. So, where do we begin?

Let’s start with gold.

Gold is an inherent value. When backing a market, gold allows us to grow a balanced economy well into the trillions. But why does it allow for massive stable markets to form around it? It is gold's permanence that creates stability. We understand that gold will always have value, because it is inherent in all of us, not just in one part of the world, but everywhere, not just today, but tomorrow and for the long haul.

In the 1930s when the gold standard was removed, we learned that the U.S. dollar didn’t need gold to back its economy to flourish. We learned that it was just a symbol for U.S. citizens to decentralize their coordination around the United States economy.

It turns out, common agreement is a philosophy for building shared economy.

And so it seems inherent value is a marker for us to begin exploring what the future could look like—a future beyond gold and the existing realm of credit. And so what else has inherent value? Is education as valuable as gold? What about healthcare? What about a vote that can’t be tampered with? What about an ID that can’t be stolen or erased? What about access to nutrition or clean water? You will find value everywhere you look.

It turns out, we’ve already done the legwork necessary to uncover the most elemental inherent values: The Sustainable Development Goals are commitments grown out of the drive to bring to life basic tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the closest possible social contract we have to a global, common agreement.

We’ve already agreed, as a global community, to ensure inclusive and equitable access to quality education. We’ve already agreed to empower all women and girls, to ensure pure and clean water access for all, to promote health at all stages of life, and to end hunger.

We’ve already agreed.

Our agreements are grounded in deep value centers that are globally shared, but undervalued and unfulfilled. The reason for this is our inability to quantify intangible value. All of these rich, inherent values are still nebulous and fragmented in implementation—largely existing as ideals and blueprints for deep, globally shared common agreement. That is, we all agree education, health, and equality have value, but we lack common units for understanding who and who is not contributing value—leaving us to fumble in our own, uncoordinated siloes as we chase the phantoms of impact. In essence, we lack common currencies for our common agreements.

Now we find ourselves at the nexus of the real paradigm of Blockchain, allowing us to fuse economics with inherent value by proving the participation of some great human effort, then quantifying the impact of that effort in unforgeable and decentralized ledgers. It allows us to build economic models for tomorrow, that create wholly new markets and economies for and around each of the richest of human endeavors.

In late 2017 at the height of the Bitcoin bubble, without individual coordination, planning, or the help of institutions, almost $1 trillion was infused into blockchain markets. This is remarkable, and the revolution has only just begun. When you realize that Blockchain is in a similar stage of development as the internet pre-AOL, you will see a glimpse of the global transformation to come.

Only twice in the information age have we had such a paradigm shift in global infrastructure reform—the computer and the internet. While the computer taught us how to store and process data, the Internet built off that ability and furthered the conversation by teaching us how to transfer that information. Blockchain takes another massive step forward—it builds off the internet, adding to the story of information storage and transfer—but, it teaches us a new, priceless and not yet understood skill: how to transfer value.

This third wave kicked off with a rough start—as happens with the birth of new technologies and their corresponding liberties. Blockchain has, thus far, been totally unregulated. Many, doubtless, have taken advantage. A young child, stretching their arms for the first couple times might knock over a cookie jar or two. Eventually, however, they learn to use their faculties—for evil or for good. As such, while it’s wise to be skeptical at this phase in blockchain’s evolution, it’s important not to be blind to its remarkable implications in a post-regulated world, so that we may wield its faculties like a surgeon’s scalpel—not for evil or snake-oil sales, but for the creation of more good, for the flourishing of commonwealth.

But what of the volatility in blockchain markets? People agree Bitcoin has value, but they don’t understand why they are in agreement, and so cryptomarkets fluctuate violently.  Stable blockchain economies will require new symbolic gold standards that clearly articulate why someone would agree to support each market, to anchor common agreement with stability. The more globally shared these new value standards, the better.

Is education more valuable than gold? What about healthcare or nutrition or clean water?

We set out in 2018 to prove a hypothesis—we believe that if you back a cryptocurrency economy with a globally agreed upon inherent value like education, you can solve for volatility and stabilize a mature long lasting cryptomarket that awards everyone who adds value to that market in a decentralized way without the friction of individual partnerships.

What if education was a new gold standard?

And what if this new Learning Economy had protocols to award everyone who is helping to steward the growth of global education?

Education is a mountain. Everyone takes a different path to the top. Blockchain allows us to measure all of those unique learning pathways, online and in classrooms, into immutable blockchain Learning Ledgers.

By quantifying the true value of education, a whole economy can be built around it to pay students to learn, educators to create substantive courses, and stewards to help the Learning Economy grow. It was designed to provide a decentralized way for everyone adding value to global education to coordinate around the commonwealth without the friction of individual partnerships. Imagine the same for healthcare, nutrition, and our environment?

Imagine a world where we can pay refugees to learn languages as they find themselves in foreign lands, a world where we can pay those laid off by the tide of automation to retrain themselves for the new economy, a world where we can pay the next generation to prepare themselves for the unsolved problems of tomorrow.

Imagine new commonwealth economies that alleviate the global burdens of poverty, disease, hunger, inequality, ignorance, toxic water, and joblessness. Commonwealths that orbit inherent values, upheld by immutable blockchain protocols that reward anyone in the ecosystem stewarding the economy—whether that means feeding the hungry, providing aid for the global poor, delivering mosquito nets in malaria-ridden areas, or developing transformative technologies that can provide a Harvard-class education to anyone in the world willing to learn.

These worlds are not out of reach—we are only now opening our eyes to the horizons of blockchain, decentralized coordination, and new gold standards. Even though coordination is the last of the seventeen sustainable development goals, when solved, its tide will lift for the rest—a much-needed rocket fuel for global prosperity.

“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair.”  —George Washington
Oscar Montealegre
Oscar Montealaegre is Diplomatic Courier’s Latin America Correspondent and the Founder of Kensington Eagle, an investment firm that specializes in private companies and real estate in the U.S. and Colombia.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.