Millions of Venezuelans wish to escape from their failing socialist country, and millions of Venezuelans are unable to do so thanks to a lack of materials needed to print enough passports.

Last year the Venezuelan government received an estimated 1.8 million to 3 million passport requests, but it only granted 300,000 passports.

The passport agency, known as Saime, has claimed the trouble in processing applications stems from a lack of “materials,” but they did not specify which materials.

Some observers believe the government can’t afford enough paper to make the passports, according to Fox News. Paper products, including toilet paper, are in short supply in the country.

However, some people think President Nicolas Maduro and his government are also trying to keep people from leaving the troubled South American nation.

Fox News quoted Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center, as saying: “People with the means to get out want to, but the problem is you need a passport and you can’t get it. It’s kind of an excuse by the Venezuelan government that they don’t have materials, because they know the real reason people want a passport is to leave the country.”

Venezuela, home of the world’s largest oil reserves, used to be a prosperous nation that attracted immigrants from all over the Americas. But the socialist policies ushered in by Hugo Chavez in 1999 and continued by Maduro have left the country destitute.

As WND previously reported, severe food shortages have led to situations where hungry Venezuelans waited in line for 12 hours outside the supermarket, only to find they were not able to buy what they wanted. Mobs of Venezuelans have looted grocery stores, stealing the food they crave, while some have resorted to hunting dogs, cats and pigeons to avoid starvation. Fifteen percent of Venezuelans admitted to one researcher they had to eat garbage to survive, while more than half said they had to take time off work to search for food.

It doesn’t help that Venezuela has the world’s highest inflation rate, causing prices of food and other consumer goods to skyrocket. Last August, Business Insider reported some of the outrageous food prices on the Venezuelan black market: $301.50 for approximately two pounds of pasta, $150.76 for a dozen eggs, $201 for a half-kilogram bag of ground coffee, and $703.54 for one kilogram of powdered milk.

What’s more, a lack of clean water in Venezuela has led to an increase in stomach illnesses and skin problems around the country, but doctors do not have the medicines they need to treat all their patients.

And because the government fixed the official price of electricity at 3 cents per kilowatt hour when it cannot be delivered that cheaply, the artificially low price has led to demand that is greater than supply. This has caused recurring power shortages in Venezuela over the past 17 years. The Maduro regime has taken drastic measures to try and conserve electricity, including ordering hundreds of shopping malls to go without electricity from 1 to 3 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.

Because of all those factors and more, nearly 2 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 1999.

William Murray, chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition and author of “Utopian Road to Hell: Enslaving America and the World with Central Planning,” says Chavez and Maduro are just heirs of the Marxist throne occupied by many failed leftist leaders throughout world history.

“Karl Marx intellectualized the fantasy of utopian states using the model of ‘from each to their ability and to each according to need,'” Murray told WND. “For over a century now that concept has caused misery and suffering causing ordinary people to flee if they could.

“Venezuela is just the latest example. Marx saw his dream nations as being led by the best thinkers; instead they have been run by the toughest thugs such as Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao. Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro is just another Marxist thug living in a presidential palace overseeing a nation in collapse as citizens starve and a well-fed military keeps them in place.”

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