Tim Padgett reminds Bloomberg Businessweek readers how far Venezuela has fallen from its peak among Latin American countries.

A document circulating in Peru, part of a broad political corruption investigation, stands as a quaint piece of Hugo Chávez memorabilia. It’s a 2006 letter allegedly penned by the late socialist Venezuelan president to one of his regional comrades, Peruvian presidential candidate Ollanta Humala. It suggests Chávez gave Humala’s campaign $2 million in what the letter calls “revolutionary aid.”

Humala, who became Peru’s president in 2011 and left office last year, denies taking cash from Chávez. But the letter recalls something larger: a time when Venezuela wielded clout. A decade ago, as crude prices soared above $100 a barrel, the South American nation with the world’s largest oil reserves was a petro sugar daddy. The firebrand Chávez cast his largesse from the Bahamas to Buenos Aires, buying influence for his left-wing, anti-U.S. revolution.

Chávez has since died (in 2013, of cancer) and oil prices have imploded. His revolución today looks as toxic as the tear gas at antigovernment protests in Caracas—and the idea of Venezuela swaying neighbors’ elections is now laughable. When Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro sent food aid to Peru’s flood victims in March, he was globally ridiculed because his country’s shortages are so deep the average Venezuelan adult lost 19 pounds last year.

Thanks to Maduro’s gross mismanagement, Venezuela is suffering one of the worst economic collapses in modern Latin American history. Its economy shrank 19 percent last year, according to its central bank, while its annual inflation rate hit hyperspace at 800 percent. A socialist revolution that came to power in 1999 vowing to raise up the forgotten poor and bring down the corrupt elite has driven the poverty rate to 82 percent of the population and has itself looted billions of dollars.