Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez agree or disagree with the Democratic Socialists of America’s New York City chapter’s call to “abolish profit”?

This is a link to a recent tweet from the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

And this is a link to an archive of the same tweet, in case the original ever gets deleted.

The tweet states:

“Abolish profit”

I’d also like to point out this link to the constitution and bylaws of the Democratic Socialists of America, where they write:

“we reject an economic order based on private profit”

So both the national organization and the New York City chapter both support getting rid of profit.

If anyone wants to see the real world results of what happens when a country tries to stop businesses and corporations from making a profit, I suggest read this lengthy, well sourced blog post that I wrote four months ago, which is called, “The Maduro diet: How most Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds in 2016, plus another 24 pounds in 2017.”

One would think that the lessons of the 20th century would have taught people that getting rid of profit also means getting rid of incentive. But one would be wrong. In Venezuela, during the 21st century, presidents Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro did everything they could to stop businesses and corporations from making a profit from growing and selling food, and the results have been disastrous.

In New York City, a self described “socialist” named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just beat long term incumbent Joseph Crowley in the Democratic primary election for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Unless something really weird and unexpected happens, there is a near 100% chance that Ocasio-Cortez will be elected to the U.S. Congress in November.

Since Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, I would like to know if she agrees or disagrees with their proposal to “abolish profit.”

I would also like to know if Ocasio-Cortez supports or opposes the policies of Venezuelan presidents Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, which I describe in great detail in this blog entry.

Chavez referred to his policies as “21st century socialism,” and he was constantly saying that it was wrong for businesses and corporations to make a profit. He set price controls on food, seized more than 10 million acres of farmland, and had the government take control of many food processing plants and supermarkets. Before Chavez died in 2013, he had appointed Maduro as his successor. Since Chavez’s’ death, Maduro has continued Chavez’s policies. Because the profit motive to grow and sell food has been eliminated in Venezuela, there has been a very severe, long term, chronic shortage of food. Most Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds in 2016, plus another 24 pounds in 2017.

I would like Ocasio-Cortez to please read my blog post, please check out all the links to the sources that I cite to prove that everything I wrote is true, and then please state whether she supports or opposes the policies of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro that are in my blog post.

 

July 1, 2018. Tags: , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. 1 comment.

The Democratic Socialists of America supports the same policies that have destroyed Venezuela’s ability to feed itself

The New York Times just published this article, which is titled “The Millennial Socialists Are Coming.” The article talks about the growing popularity of socialism among Millennials, and points out several examples of socialist candidates beating long term Democrats in primary elections.

The New York Times article includes this link to the constitution and bylaws of the Democratic Socialists of America. Here is a brief excerpt from it (the bolding is mine):

“We are socialists because we reject an economic order based on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination based on race, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, disability status, age, religion, and national origin, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo. We are socialists because we share a vision of a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equality and non-oppressive relationships.”

Let’s take a look at what those two bolded parts manage to achieve when they are adopted in the real world. Specifically, let’s take a look at what’s currently going on in Venezuela, which I have previously described in great detail in this lengthy and well sourced blog post, which I have titled, “The Maduro diet: How most Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds in 2016, plus another 24 pounds in 2017.”

The Democratic Socialists of America claim that they “reject an economic order based on private profit.” That’s exactly what Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was doing when he started implementing price controls on food in Venezuela in 2003. These price controls caused shortages of food. Anyone who understands Economics 101 knows that price controls cause shortages.

The Democratic Socialists of America claim that they support “popular control of resources and production.” This is exactly what Hugo Chavez did when he had the government seize more than 10 million acres of farmland from private owners. As a result of these land seizures, food production fell substantially.

Before Chavez died, he appointed Nicolas Maduro to be his successor. After Chavez died in 2013, Maduro continued Chavez’s policies.

In 2018, all of Chavez’s food policies are still in effect. The profit motive has been taken away from food production. Ownership of the means of producing food has been collectivized.

Because the Venezuelan government adopted the exact same polices that are supported by Democratic Socialists of America, most Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds in 2016, plus another 24 pounds in 2017.

And you don’t have to take my word for this. My blog entry that I mentioned earlier contains a very large number of links to sources which document exactly how this happened.

One thing that’s interesting about the links in my blog entry on Venezuela is that many of my sources are links to articles in the New York Times. And yet the current article form the New York Times on the Democratic Socialists of America makes absolutely no mention of the the kinds of horrible disasters that happen when such policies are adopted in the real world.

And before anyone goes and mentions the Scandanavian countries, I would like to point out that those countries have by no means adopted the polices supported by the Democratic Socialists of America that I quoted and bolded above. They have not abandoned the profit motive, and they have not turned their means of production over to collective ownership.

On the contrary, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark all have thriving private sectors with huge corporations that make massive profits.

 

June 30, 2018. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. 1 comment.

In just three minutes, Jordan Peterson gives the most accurate description of 21st century Marxists that I’ve ever heard

In this three minute video, Jordan Peterson says that is is morally reprehensible for anyone who knows anything about 20th century history to support Marxism in the 21st century.

I’ve never heard a better criticism of 21st century Marxists than what’s in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8p2QfjaSIUo

Here is the text of his speech:

The fact that the post-modernists dare to be Marxists is also something that I find I would say not so much intellectually reprehensible as morally repugnant.  And one of the things that the post-modern neo-Marxists continually claim is that they have nothing but compassion for the downtrodden.

And I would say that anybody with more than a cursory knowledge of 20th century history who dares to claim simultaneously that they have compassion for the downtrodden and that they’re Marxists, are revealing either their ignorance of history that is so astounding that it’s actually a form of miracle, or a kind of malevolence that’s so reprehensible that it’s almost unspeakable, because we already ran the equity experiment over the course of the 20th century, and we already know what the Marxist doctrines have done for oppressed people all over the world. And the answer to that mostly was imprison them, enslave them, work them to death, or execute them.

And as far as I can tell that’s not precisely commensurate with any message of compassion. And so I don’t that think the post-modern neo-Marxists have a leg to stand on ethically, or intellectually, or emotionally. And I think that they should be gone after as hard as possible from an intellectual perspective –  an informed intellectual perspective. And this is fundamentally a war of ideas.

And that’s the level of analysis that it should be fought upon. And not only is it a war of ideas, I think it’s one that can be won, because I think that especially the French intellectual post-modernists are a pack of – what would you call them? Well we could start with charlatans – that’s a good one. Pseudo-intellectual would be good. Resentful would be another.

And then I would also consider them highly – they’re highly deceptive in their intellectual strategies because almost all of them are Marxist student intellectuals and they knew by the time the gulag archipelago came out, and even before that, that the nightmares of the Soviet Union and Maoist China were of such magnitude that they had completely invalidated any claim to ethical justification that the fundamental Marxist doctrines had ever managed to manifest. And so, it’s a no go zone as far as I’m concerned.

Intellectually, the game’s over. We’ve already figured out that there are finite constraints on interpretation. And we also understand why those exist, and how they evolved, and from the perspective of political argumentation, there’s absolutely no excuse whatsoever in the 21st century to put forth Marxist doctrines as if they are the balm that is administered by the compassionate to the downtrodden.

Sorry.

Tried that.

Didn’t work.

We’ve got a hundred million corpses to prove it. And that’s plenty for me. And if it’s not enough for you, then you should do some serious thinking – either about your historical knowledge, or about your moral character.

 

March 22, 2018. Tags: , , , , . Communism. 1 comment.

Washington Post opinion columnist Elizabeth Bruenig wants the U.S. to adopt the same policies that are currently causing Venezuelans to starve to death

Washington Post writer Elizabeth Bruenig recently wrote this opinion column.

She writes,

“I think the problem lies at the root of the thing, with capitalism itself.”

Capitalism merely means that property is privately owned. So she has a problem with private ownership of property.

She writes,

“Americans appear to be isolated, viciously competitive, suspicious of one another and spiritually shallow; and that we are anxiously looking for some kind of attachment to something real and profound in an age of decreasing trust and regard — seem to be emblematic of capitalism.”

I think these are things of human nature, and would exist regardless of the kind of economic system that we had.

She says that capitalism

“… encourages and requires fierce individualism, self-interested disregard for the other.”

I wonder how many repeat customers a business would have if the business owner had “disregard” for those customers.

She writes,

“As a business-savvy friend once remarked: Nobody gets rich off of bilateral transactions where everybody knows what they’re doing.”

When I buy a loaf of bread at the supermarket, it’s a win-win situation. There are no losers. And the owner of the supermarket is rich.

She said she supports

“decommodifying labor”

So she would let herself be operated on by a surgeon who gets paid no more than a janitor who dropped out of high school?

She said she supports

“reducing the vast inequality brought about by capitalism.”

In the capitalist U.S., where inequality is huge, poor people make $15,000 a year, while rich people make $15 million a year.

In Cuba, where there is equality, all government employees make $20 a month.

Bruenig wants the U.S. to adopt the same policies that are currently causing Venezuelans to starve to death. Everything that Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro have done was done because they hate capitalism just as much as Bruenig does. There is no basic difference between her views and theirs.

March 10, 2018. Tags: , , , , . Communism, Media bias, Venezuela. 8 comments.

The Maduro diet: How most Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds in 2016, plus another 24 pounds in 2017

(more…)

March 10, 2018. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Food, Military, Police state, Politics, Social justice warriors, Venezuela, War against achievement. 1 comment.

The idiots in South Africa‘s parliament just voted to seize land from farmers

The Independent has just reported that South Africa‘s parliament just voted to seize privately owned land from farmers.

In the past, government seizure of privately owned farmland has always resulted in huge reductions in food production, whether it be in the Soviet Union, China, Zimbabwe, or, most recently, in Venezuela, where the recent government seizure of farmland was followed by most adults losing an average of 43 pounds in two years.

Why do the members of South Africa‘s parliament think the results will be any different this time?

 

March 2, 2018. Tags: , , , . Communism, Economics. 1 comment.

Here’s how most Venezuelans lost an average of 43 pounds in two years

(more…)

February 23, 2018. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Food, Military, Police state, Politics, Social justice warriors, Venezuela, War against achievement. Leave a comment.

Venezuelan government tells doctors and hospitals not to list starvation as cause of death for babies and children who starve to death

For a detailed explanation of how Venezuela went from being a rich well fed country, to a poor country with severe shortages of food, please see this previous blog post that I wrote, which is called “Here’s how most Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds in 2016, and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again in 2017.”

Now the latest news.

The New York Times just published this article about the situation in Venezuela.

According to the article, even though large numbers of babies and children are starving to death, the government is telling doctors and hospitals not to list starvation as the official cause of death.

In addition, the Times kept track of 21 pubic hospitals over a period of five months. During that time period, the Times was unable to get any kind of official starvation counts from any of those hospitals. However, doctors at nine of those hospitals told the Timed that they had kept at least a partial count, and that of these partial counts at nine hospitals, nearly 400 children had starved to death. The cause of these deaths was not listed as starvation in the hospitals’ official records, but the doctors know that starvation was their true cause of death.

The Times also reports that the food shortages are so severe that even most hospitals do not have enough baby formula to meet the needs of their patients.

And it’s not just food that’s in short supply. The Times also reports that many of these hospitals don’t have enough of basic supplies such as soap, syringes, gauze, diapers, and latex gloves.

Please keep in mind that before Hugo Chavez implemented price controls and seized farms, factories, businesses, and other private property, the country was quite affluent and had a first world standard of living.

There’s a huge lesson in all of this.

No matter how well off and prosperous a country is, it simply cannot maintain anything even remotely close to such levels of prosperity when it adopts communism.

(more…)

December 18, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Communism, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

Injured defector’s parasites and diet hint at hard life in North Korea

Here is another example of how communists are incompetent when it comes to farming.

Using human waste for fertilizer is perfectly safe as long as it’s properly treated to kill any parasites, bacteria, and viruses.

Even in the U.S., there are people who use human waste from their compost toilets to grow their own food – but they process it properly before they use it.

Not so with the idiot communists in North Korea. They just toss it – raw and full of dangerous parasites – on to their crops.

This article also talks about the substantial differences in height and weight between children in North Korea and South Korea, as well as the lack of sufficient essential fatty acids and protein in the North Korean diet.

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-southkorea-defection-soldi/injured-defectors-parasites-and-diet-hint-at-hard-life-in-north-korea-idUSKBN1DH0RL?il=0

Injured defector’s parasites and diet hint at hard life in North Korea

November 17, 2017

SEOUL (Reuters) – Parasitic worms found in a North Korean soldier, critically injured during a desperate defection, highlight nutrition and hygiene problems that experts say have plagued the isolated country for decades.

At a briefing on Wednesday, lead surgeon Lee Cook-jong displayed photos showing dozens of flesh-colored parasites – including one 27 cm (10.6 in) long – removed from the wounded soldier’s digestive tract during a series of surgeries to save his life.

“In my over 20 year-long career as a surgeon, I have only seen something like this in a textbook,” Lee said.

The parasites, along with kernels of corn in his stomach, may confirm what many experts and previous defectors have described about the food and hygiene situation for many North Koreans.

“Although we do not have solid figures showing health conditions of North Korea, medical experts assume that parasite infection problems and serious health issues have been prevalent in the country,” said Choi Min-Ho, a professor at Seoul National University College of Medicine who specializes in parasites.

The soldier’s condition was “not surprising at all considering the north’s hygiene and parasite problems,” he said.

The soldier was flown by helicopter to hospital on Monday after his dramatic escape to South Korea in a hail of bullets fired by North Korean soldiers.

He is believed to be an army staff sergeant in his mid-20s who was stationed in the Joint Security Area in the United Nations truce village of Panmunjom, according to Kim Byung-kee, a lawmaker of South Korea’s ruling party, briefed by the National Intelligence Service.

North Korea has not commented on the defection.

While the contents of the soldier’s stomach don’t necessarily reflect the population as a whole, his status as a soldier – with an elite assignment – would indicate he would at least be as well nourished as an average North Korean.

He was shot in his buttocks, armpit, back shoulder and knee among other wounds, according to the hospital where the soldier is being treated.

‘THE BEST FERTILIZER’

Parasitic worms were also once common in South Korea 40 to 50 years ago, Lee noted during his briefing, but have all but disappeared as economic conditions greatly improved.

Other doctors have also described removing various types of worms and parasites from North Korean defectors.

Their continued prevalence north of the heavily fortified border that divides the two Koreas could be in part tied to the use of human excrement, often called “night soil.”

“Chemical fertilizer was supplied by the state until the 1970s, but from the early 1980s, production started to decrease,” said Lee Min-bok, a North Korean agriculture expert who defected to South Korea in 1995. “By the 1990s, the state could not supply it anymore, so farmers started to use a lot of night soil instead.”

In 2014, supreme leader Kim Jong Un personally urged farmers to use human faeces, along with animal waste and organic compost, to fertilize their fields.

A lack of livestock, however, made it difficult to find animal waste, said Lee, the agriculture expert.

Even harder to overcome, he said, is the view of night soil as the “best fertilizer in North Korea,” despite the risk of worms and parasites.

“Vegetables grown in it are considered more delicious than others,” Lee said.

LIMITED DIETS

The medical briefing described the wounded soldier as being 170 cm (5 feet 5 inches) and 60 kg (132 pounds) with his stomach containing corn. It’s a staple grain that more North Koreans may be relying on in the wake of what the United Nations has called the worst drought since 2001.

Imported corn, which is less preferred but cheaper to obtain than rice, has tended to increase in years when North Koreans are more worried about their seasonal harvests.

Between January and September this year, China exported nearly 49,000 tonnes of corn to North Korea, compared to only 3,125 tonnes in all of 2016, according to data released by Beijing.

Despite the drought and international sanctions over Pyongyang’s nuclear program, the cost of corn and rice has remained relatively stable, according to a Reuters analysis of market data collected by the defector-run Daily NK website.

Since the 1990s, when government rations failed to prevent a famine hitting the country, North Koreans have gradually turned to markets and other private means to feed themselves.

The World Food Programme says a quarter of North Korean children 6-59 months old, who attend nurseries that the organization assists, suffer from chronic malnutrition.

On average North Koreans are less nourished than their southern neighbors. The WFP says around one in four children have grown less tall than their South Korean counterparts. A study from 2009 said pre-school children in the North were up to 13 cm (5 inches) shorter and up to 7 kg (15 pounds) lighter than those brought up in the South.

“The main issue in DPRK is a monotonous diet – mainly rice/maize, kimchi and bean paste – lacking in essential fats and protein,” the WFP told Reuters in a statement last month.

November 19, 2017. Tags: , . Communism. Leave a comment.

In Venezuela, they were teachers and doctors. To buy food, they became prostitutes.

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/venezuela/article174808061.html

In Venezuela, they were teachers and doctors. To buy food, they became prostitutes.

September 22, 2017

ARAUCA, Colombia – At a squat, concrete brothel on the muddy banks of the Arauca River, Gabriel Sánchez rattled off the previous jobs of the women who now sell their bodies at his establishment for $25 an hour.

“We’ve got lots of teachers, some doctors, many professional women and one petroleum engineer,” he yelled over the din of vallenato music. “All of them showed up with their degrees in hand.”

As Venezuela’s economy continues to collapse amid food shortages, hyperinflation and U.S. sanctions, waves of economic refugees have fled the country. Those with the means have gone to places like Miami, Santiago and Panama.

The less fortunate find themselves walking across the border into Colombia looking for a way, any way, to keep themselves and their families fed. A recent study suggested as many as 350,000 Venezuelans had entered Colombia in the last six years.

But with jobs scarce, many young — and not so young — women are turning to the world’s oldest profession to make ends meet.

Dayana, a 30-year-old mother of four, nursed a beer as she watched potential clients walk down the dirt road that runs in front of wooden shacks, bars and bordellos. Dressed for work in brightly-colored spandex, Dayana said she used to be the manager of a food-processing plant on the outskirts of Caracas.

But that job disappeared after the government seized the factory and “looted it,” she said.

Seven months ago, struggling to put food on the table, she came to Colombia looking for work. Without an employment permit, she found herself working as a prostitute in the capital, Bogotá. While the money was better there, she eventually moved to Arauca, a cattle town of 260,000 people along the border with Venezuela, because it was easier to send food back to her children in Caracas.

The previous night, her sister had traveled by bus for 18 hours from Caracas to pick up a bundle of groceries that Dayana had purchased — pasta, tuna, rice, cooking oil — and then immediately jumped on a bus back home.

“If you had told me four years ago that I would be here, doing this, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Dayana, who asked that her last name not be used. “But we’ve gone from crisis to crisis to crisis, and now look where we are.”

“The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing,” President Donald Trump stated before the United Nations on Sept. 19, 2017. He later called on other countries to do more to address the crisis in Venezuela under the dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro which “has inflicted terrible misery and suffering on the good people of that country.”

With inflation running in excess of 700 percent and the bolivar currency in free fall, finding food and medicine in Venezuela has become a frustrating, time-consuming task. Dayana said she often would spend four to six hours waiting in line hoping to buy a bag of flour. Other times she was forced to buy food on the black market at exorbitant rates. Hunger in Venezuela is rampant.

That has fueled a scramble to earn hard currency — Colombian pesos or, even better, the U.S. dollar, which is the legal tender of Ecuador and Panama.

Dayana said that on a good night she makes the equivalent of $50 to $100 dollars, selling her services 20 minutes at a time.

“Prostitution obviously isn’t a good job,” she said. “But I’m thankful for it, because it’s allowing me to buy food and support my family.”

Selling sex is legal in Colombia, and even small towns have red-light districts where authorities look the other way. So while immigration police were actively hunting down Venezuelans selling trinkets and panhandling in Arauca’s central square, the women along brothel row said they were rarely harassed.

Marta Muñoz runs the Casa de la Mujer, a municipal program that focuses on women’s health and rights. She said that prostitution is something of a blind spot for local authorities who are more focused on blatant crimes, like child trafficking, rape and the abuse of minors.

“I know that some of them are being paid unfairly and being treated very poorly,” Muñoz said of the Venezuelan prostitutes. “But how do we protect them without strong public policies?”

Sánchez and others in the sex industry say Venezuelans dominate the trade now because they’re willing to work for less pay.

“I would say 99 percent of the prostitutes in this town are Venezuelan,” he said. All 12 of the women who work for him are from the other side of the border.

It’s not just a border phenomenon. Fidelia Suarez, the president of Colombia’s Union of Sex Workers, said her organization has seen a dramatic influx of “Venezuelan women and men working in the sex trade” across the country.

While it’s impossible to quantify how many might be working in the trade, Suarez said her organization is trying to safeguard the vulnerable migrants.

“We want to make sure they’re not being harassed by authorities or taken advantage of,” she said. “Being sexually exploited is very different than being a sex worker.”

In a sense, Venezuela’s economic crisis has been so severe that it has even upended long-held social norms.

Marili, a 47-year-old former teacher and grandmother, said there was a time when she would have been ashamed to admit she’s a prostitute. Now she says she’s grateful to have a job that allows her to buy hypertension medication for her mother back in Caracas.

“We’re all just women who are working to support our families,” she said. “I refuse to criticize anyone, including myself. We all have to work.”

Both Marili and Dayana said they had told their families how they make a living. “I don’t like to keep secrets,” Dayana explained.

Even Sánchez, the 60-year-old brothel owner, says he was forced into the business by the Venezuelan crisis. Like many Colombians, Sánchez moved to the neighboring country 30 years ago, when the oil rich nation was booming economically and Colombia was mired in violence.

There, he had solid work in Caracas repainting cars. When the crisis killed that job several years ago, he began smuggling Venezuelan wood and its cheaper-than-water gasoline into Colombia.

Eventually, things got so bad he decided to return to Colombia permanently. He and his wife opened the brothel, called “Show Malilo Night Club.” Sánchez’s nickname is Malilo.

“This place is mine, thank God,” he said of the modest building, strung with Christmas lights to provide ambiance. “But it hurts me deeply what’s happening over there.”

Marili said the couple had been lifesavers — giving her a place to stay and a way to make a living.

“Not just anyone will lend you a hand,” she said. “These people are humanitarians.”

There seems to be no end in sight for Venezuela’s economic pain. Last month, the Trump administration restricted Caracas’ ability to borrow money from American creditors, which will undoubtedly deepen the crisis. And yet, President Nicolás Maduro has been digging in, avoiding the economic reforms that economists say are necessary.

Dayana dreams of a day when she’ll be able to go home and start a small clothing boutique. Asked when she thought that might happen, she shook her head.

“No one knows,” she said. “We just have to be patient.”

September 25, 2017. Tags: , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

My new book “The Maduro Diet” is ranked #1 in the amazon sales category Books > History > Americas > South America > Venezuela

My new book The Maduro Diet is ranked #1 in the amazon sales category Books > History > Americas > South America > Venezuela

Here’s a partial screen capture:


Full title: The Maduro Diet: How three-quarters of adults in Venezuela lost an average of 19 pounds in 2016

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075W2LXT8


September 24, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Books, Communism, Economics, Venezuela. 2 comments.

I just published this new book about the food shortages in Venezuela

I just published this new book about the food shortages in Venezuela:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075W2LXT8

September 24, 2017. Tags: , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

Price controls and nationalization of more than 10 million acres of farmland have destroyed Venezuela’s ability to feed itself

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/venezuelas-paradox-people-are-hungry-but-farmers-cant-feed-them/2017/05/21/ce460726-3987-11e7-a59b-26e0451a96fd_story.html

Venezuela’s paradox: People are hungry, but farmers can’t feed them

May 22, 2017


Above: A once-packed henhouse stands empty on Saulo Escobar’s farm in Aragua state, Venezuela, earlier this month.

YUMA, Venezuela — With cash running low and debts piling up, Venezuela’s socialist government has cut back sharply on food imports. And for farmers in most countries, that would present an opportunity.

But this is Venezuela, whose economy operates on its own special plane of dysfunction. At a time of empty supermarkets and spreading hunger, the country’s farms are producing less and less, not more, making the caloric deficit even worse.

Drive around the countryside outside the capital, Caracas, and there’s everything a farmer needs: fertile land, water, sunshine and gasoline at 4 cents a gallon, cheapest in the world. Yet somehow families here are just as scrawny-looking as the city-dwelling Venezuelans waiting in bread lines or picking through garbage for scraps.

Having attempted for years to defy conventional economics, the country now faces a painful reckoning with basic arithmetic.

“Last year I had 200,000 hens,” said Saulo Escobar, who runs a poultry and hog farm here in the state of Aragua, an hour outside Caracas. “Now I have 70,000.”

Several of his cavernous henhouses sit empty because, Escobar said, he can’t afford to buy more chicks or feed. Government price controls have made his business unprofitable, and armed gangs have been squeezing him for extortion payments and stealing his eggs.

Venezuela’s latest public health indicators confirm that the country is facing a dietary calamity. With medicines scarce and malnutrition cases soaring, more than 11,000 babies died last year, sending the infant mortality rate up 30 percent, according to Venezuela’s Health Ministry. The head of the ministry was fired by President Nicolás Maduro two days after she released those statistics.

Child hunger in parts of Venezuela is a “humanitarian crisis,” according to a new report by the Catholic relief organization Caritas, which found 11.4 percent of children under age 5 suffering from moderate to severe malnutrition, and 48 percent “at risk” of going hungry.

‘The Maduro diet’

The protesters who have been marching in the streets against Maduro for the past seven weeks scream, “We’re hungry!” as riot police blast them with water cannons and tear gas.

In a recent survey of 6,500 Venezuelan families by the country’s leading universities, three-quarters of adults said they lost weight in 2016 — an average of 19 pounds. This collective emaciation is referred to dryly here as “the Maduro diet,” but it’s a level of hunger almost unheard-of outside war zones or areas ravaged by hurricane, drought or plague.

Venezuela’s disaster is man-made, economists point out — the result of farm nationalizations, currency distortions and a government takeover of food distribution. While millions of Venezuelans can’t get enough to eat, officials have refused to allow international aid groups to deliver food, accustomed to viewing their oil-rich country as the benefactor of poorer nations, not a charity case.

“It’s not only the nationalization of land,” said Carlos Machado, an expert on Venezuelan agriculture. “The government has made the decision to be the producer, processor and distributor, so the entire chain of food production suffers from an inefficient agricultural bureaucracy.”

With Venezuela’s industrial output crashing, farmers are forced to import feed, fertilizer and spare parts, but they can’t do so without hard currency. And the government has been hoarding the dollars it earns from oil exports to pay back high-interest loans from Wall Street and other foreign creditors.

Escobar said he needs 400 tons of high-protein imported animal feed every three months to keep his operation running, but he’s able to get only 100 tons. So, like many others, he’s turned to the black market. But he can only afford a cheaper, less nutritious feed, meaning that his hens are smaller than they used to be — and so are their eggs.

“My quality went down, so my production went down, too,” he said.

Escobar’s hogs also are skinnier. An average full-size pig weighed 242 pounds two years ago, he said. “Now they weigh 176.” Last year, he lost 2,000 hogs in three months when the animals got sick and he couldn’t find vaccines.

The piglets born since then are undersized. Many have bloody wounds at the tips of their ears. “When an animal has a poor diet, it looks for nourishment elsewhere,” explained Maria Arias, a veterinarian at the farm. “So they end up chewing off the ears of other pigs.”

‘There are no profits’

Venezuela has long relied on imports of certain foodstuffs, such as wheat, that can’t be grown on a large scale in the country’s tropical climate. But trade statistics show that the land policies of the late Hugo Chávez, Maduro’s predecessor, made Venezuela more dependent on imported food than ever.

When oil prices were high, that wasn’t a big problem. Now Venezuela’s blend of heavy crude is worth barely $40 a barrel and the country’s petroleum output is at a 23-year low, in part because refineries and pipelines are breaking down and investment in new infrastructure isn’t keeping pace.

The government hasn’t published farming data in years. But Machado, the agriculture expert, said annual food imports averaged about $75 per person until 2004, then soared after Chávez accelerated the nationalization of farms, eventually seizing more than 10 million acres. The government expropriated factories, too, and Venezuela’s domestic food production plummeted.

By 2012, annual per capita food imports had increased to $370, but since then, oil prices have slumped and imports have dropped 73 percent.

Instead of spurring growth in domestic agriculture, the government has strangled it, farmers say. Domestic production of rice, corn and coffee has declined by 60 percent or more in the past decade, according to Venezuela’s Confederation of Farmer Associations (Fedeagro), a trade group. Nearly all of the sugar mills nationalized by the government since 2005 are paralyzed or producing below capacity.

Only a small, well-off minority of Venezuelans can afford to buy much food on the black market, where a pound of rice imported from Brazil or Colombia sells for about 6,000 bolivares. That’s roughly $1 at the black-market exchange rate, but for an ordinary Venezuelan worker it’s an entire day’s wage, because the bolivar has lost 99 percent of its value in the past five years.

Venezuelans who don’t have access to hard currency depend on government-subsidized groceries doled out by pro-Maduro neighborhood groups, or wait in supermarket lines for rationed, price-capped items. Those who join anti-government protests have been threatened with losing their food supplies.

The price controls have become a powerful disincentive in rural Venezuela. “There are no profits, so we produce at a loss,” said one dairy farmer in the state of Guarico, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared retaliation from authorities. To get a new tractor, he said, he would have to spend all the money he earns in a year. “It’s a miracle that the industry is still alive,” he said.

Four of his cows were stolen this month, probably by hungry families in the nearby village, he said.

According to Vicente Carrillo, the former president of Venezuela’s cattle ranchers’ association, the overall size of the country’s herd has dropped in the past five years from 13 million head to about 8 million.

Carrillo sold his ranch more than a decade ago, tired of threats from squatters and rural activists who accused him of being an exploitative rural capitalist. His family had owned the land for more than a century. “I dedicated more than 30 years of my life to this business, but I had to leave everything behind,” he said.

Escobar, the chicken and hog farmer, said the only way for farmers to remain in business today is to break the law and sell at market prices, hoping authorities look the other way.

“If I sold at regulated prices, I wouldn’t even be able to afford a single kilogram of chicken feed,” he said.

If it’s not a fear of the government that keeps Escobar awake at night, it’s criminal gangs. Since one of his delivery trucks was robbed in December, he has been forced to make “protection” payments to a mafia boss operating out of the local prison. Every Friday, three motorcycles stop by the farm to pick up an envelope of cash, he said. Calling the police would only escalate the danger.

“I know how to deal with chickens and pigs,” Escobar said, “but not criminals.”

September 8, 2017. Tags: , , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. 1 comment.

Venezuela bans the importation of “war materials” such as first aid kits, eye drops, antacids, gauze, surgical tape, and burn cream

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/medicines-supplies-grounded-u-s-after-venezuela-tags-them-war-n767346

Medicines, Supplies Grounded in U.S. After Venezuela Tags Them ‘War Material’

June 2, 2017

MIAMI — After four years of sending monthly shipments of medicine and food for hospitals and needy people in Venezuela, Move Org, a non-profit based in Miami, abruptly stopped three weeks ago.

Move Org had been sending up to five to seven pallets of donations monthly to help alleviate the burden that the economic and political crisis gripping the South American nation has had on its people.

But recently, the Venezuelan government banned the import of a series of items they deem “war material.”

Some of the products banned are… medical products such as first aid kits, eye drops, antacids, gauze, surgical tape, and burn cream, among others.

“… how can they ban medicine?” questioned Milagros Ramirez, CEO of the nonprofit, Sanando, which means “healing” in Spanish. She founded the group in Venezuela over ten years ago.

She has been living in South Florida for the past two years and has been sending medicine and food for hospitals, orphanages, and nonprofits. Like Move Org, she also stopped the group’s weekly shipments to Venezuela three weeks ago.

“Everything you can think of is needed in Venezuela,” she said. Ramirez said something as simple as denture adhesive is important. “Without it, people who wear dentures cannot eat.” Many of the items Sanando sends are now banned. She feels terrible for the children and senior citizens who badly need them.

Courier services can be found throughout Miami and they are used to send mostly food and medicine back home to relatives. In the midst of the allegations from officials and rumors that boxes are being opened and confiscated, some Venezuelan courier companies have completely stopped shipping food and medicine over an abundance of caution.

Alcala, the Vice-President of Move Org, says she relies on acquaintances traveling from Miami to Caracas to hand-carry medicines to her mother. At 90, she suffers from Alzheimer and is diabetic. She said tear gas often seeps into her mother’s home through cracks in windows and doors. She wants to send her surgical masks to moisten with Maalox in order to protect her from the gas effects. But she says both are banned and hasn’t found a way to get them to her. “It’s not fair. It’s just not fair.”

August 22, 2017. Tags: , . Communism, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

Some Venezuelans have not had a full meal in days

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/hungry-venezuelans-turn-colombia-plate-food-49206924

Hungry Venezuelans turn to Colombia for a plate of food

Associated Press

CUCUTA, Colombia — Aug 14, 2017

Under a scorching sun just a short walk from Colombia’s border with Venezuela, hundreds of hungry men, women and children line up for bowls of chicken and rice — the first full meal some have eaten in days.

An estimated 25,000 Venezuelans make the trek across the Simon Bolivar International Bridge into Colombia each day. Many come for a few hours to work or trade goods on the black market, looking for household supplies they cannot find back home.

But increasingly, they are coming to eat in one of a half-dozen facilities offering struggling Venezuelans a free plate of food.

“I never thought I’d say this,” said Erick Oropeza, 29, a former worker with Venezuela’s Ministry of Education who recently began crossing the bridge each day. “But I’m more grateful for what Colombia has offered me in this short time than what I ever received from Venezuela my entire life.”

As Venezuela’s economy verges on collapse and its political upheaval worsens, cities like Cucuta along Colombia’s porous, 1,370-mile (2,200-kilometer) border with Venezuela have become firsthand witnesses to the neighboring South American nation’s escalating humanitarian crisis.

According to one recent survey, about 75 percent of Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds (8.7 kilograms) last year.

The Colombian government has crafted contingency plans in the event of a sudden, mass exodus, but already church groups and nonprofit organizations are stepping in, moved by images of mothers carrying starving babies and skinny men trying to make a few bucks on Cucuta’s streets to bring back home.

Paulina Toledo, 47, a Colombian hairstylist who recently helped feed lunch to 900 Venezuelans, said seeing how hungry they were “hurt my soul.”

“Those of us here on the border are seeing their pain,” she said.

People living on either side of the Colombia-Venezuela border have long had a foot in both countries: A Colombian who lives in Cucuta might cross to visit relatives in San Cristobal; a Venezuelan might make the reverse trip to work or go to school.

In the years when Venezuela’s oil industry was booming and Colombia entangled in a half-century armed conflict, an estimated 4 million Colombians migrated to Venezuela. Many started coming back as Venezuela’s economy began to implode and after President Nicolas Maduro closed the border in 2015 and expelled 20,000 Colombians overnight.

Oropeza said he earned about $70 a month working at the Ministry of Education and selling hamburgers on the side — twice Venezuela’s minimum wage but still not enough to feed a family of four. Once a month his family receives a bundle of food provided by the government, but it only lasts a week.

“So the other three weeks, like most Venezuelans, we have to make magic happen,” he said on a recent afternoon.

Desperate for money to feed his family, he left his job and traveled to the Venezuelan border town of San Antonio. He wakes up at 4 a.m. each morning to be among the first crossing the bridge into Cucuta, where he earns money selling soft drinks on the street.

He goes straight to the “Casa de Paso,” a church-run shelter that has served 60,000 meals to Venezuelans since opening two months ago. On an average day, 2,000 Venezuelans line up for meals, getting a ticket to reserve their spot and then waiting four hours for a meal served at outdoor plastic tables.

Workers stir gigantic metal pots filled with chicken and rice set on the bare dirt floor. Volunteers hand out boxes of juice to tired-looking children. Adults sit quietly, savoring their bowl of food as chickens waddle between them.

“Every day I have to remind myself why I am here,” said Oropeza, dressed in a faded striped collared shirt. “I try to repeat it to myself so that I won’t, you know, so those moments of weakness don’t affect you so much.”

When he’s not helping out or waiting in line at the shelter kitchen, Oropeza sells malted soft drinks for about 50 cents each. He’s been able to bring money back to his family and has earned enough to buy a cellphone, which he’d lacked for two years.

Jose David Canas, a priest, said his church will continue to serve food “as long as God allows.”

“Until they close the border,” he said. “Until everything is eaten or until the province tells us that they no longer have lunches to give out. And then it’s the end.”

August 16, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

Here’s how most Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds in 2016, and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again in 2017

(more…)

February 21, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Food, Military, Police state, Politics, Social justice warriors, Venezuela, War against achievement. 4 comments.

Black Lives Matter crowd cheers as activist calls for an end to capitalism, demands white people give up all of their possessions, and says “we need to start killing people”

The fact that abolishing private property has been a total failure in each and every country where it has been tried, and has led to nothing but misery, poverty, hunger, famine, empty shelves in stores, dictatorship, oppression, censorship, political imprisonment, and a shortage of toilet paper, the crowd cheers as this Black Lives Matter activist calls for the U.S. to do the very same thing.

They also cheer as she says, at 1:50, “we need to start killing people.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIlsMKu67q0

January 31, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , . Black lives matter, Communism, Racism, Social justice warriors. 2 comments.

MSNBC fake news reporter Brian Williams falsely says Cubans prefer using donkey carts instead of cars

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uovc-JnsBwQ

 

December 12, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , . Communism, Media bias. 1 comment.

Black Lives Matter praises Fidel Castro for protecting murderers, hijackers, and terrorists from U.S. authorities

https://heatst.com/culture-wars/black-lives-matter-salutes-fidel-castro-is-grateful-he-harbored-an-fbi-most-wanted-terrorist/

Black Lives Matter Salutes Fidel Castro, is ‘Grateful’ He Harbored an FBI Most Wanted Terrorist

November 27, 2016

The Black Lives Matter movement has come out in support of Fidel Castro, following his death on Friday, saying they must “come to the defense of El Comandante” and thanking him for safeguarding Assata Shakur, who’s on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list.

The movement penned an article on Sunday titled “Lessons from Fidel: Black Lives Matter and the Transition of El Comandante” on the Medium platform where they eulogized the passing of the Cuban dictator. The article, which was not bylined, was Tweeted out by the closest thing there is to an official Black Lives Matter account and also posted on the movement’s semi-official Facebook page.

The article claims Castro’s death has caused “an overwhelming sense of loss, complicated by fear and anxiety.”

“Although no leader is without their flaws, we must push back against the rhetoric of the right and come to the defense of El Comandante,” it added.

The article continues by portraying Castro as a model freedom fighter, who Black Lives Matter should strive to follow and emulate. It said: “As Fidel ascends to the realm of the ancestors, we summon his guidance, strength, and power as we recommit ourselves to the struggle for universal freedom. Fidel Vive!”

The movement then thanked the Cuban dictator for hiding criminals and domestic terrorists from the U.S government, such as Michael Finney, Ralph Goodwin, and Charles Hill — who hijacked an airplane from Albuquerque while being sought for the 1972 murder of New Mexico State Trooper Robert Rosenbloom.

Hill told a Washington Post reporter in the 1990s that he had no regrets about killing the state trooper, a father of two young daughters.

The BLM movement is also also “particularly grateful” to Castro for harboring “Mama Assata Shakur, who continues to inspire us.” Shakur, whose real name is Joanne Chesimard, is currently on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list with a $1 million bounty on her head.

She was convicted in the U.S. of killing a New Jersey state trooper, assault and battery of a police officer. After she escaped from prison, Castro granted her asylum in Cuba in 1984.

.

https://medium.com/@BlackLivesMatterNetwork/lessons-from-fidel-black-lives-matter-and-the-transition-of-el-comandante-c11ee5e51fb0#.7z3rt4lxg

Black Lives Matter

Lessons from Fidel: Black Lives Matter and the Transition of El Comandante

November 27, 2016

We are feeling many things as we awaken to a world without Fidel Castro. There is an overwhelming sense of loss, complicated by fear and anxiety. Although no leader is without their flaws, we must push back against the rhetoric of the right and come to the defense of El Comandante. And there are lessons that we must revisit and heed as we pick up the mantle in changing our world, as we aspire to build a world rooted in a vision of freedom and the peace that only comes with justice. It is the lessons that we take from Fidel.

From Fidel, we know that revolution is sparked by an idea, by radical imaginings, which sometimes take root first among just a few dozen people coming together in the mountains. It can be a tattered group of meager resources, like in Sierra Maestro in 1956 or St. Elmo Village in 2013.

Revolution is continuous and is won first in the hearts and minds of the people and is continually shaped and reshaped by the collective. No single revolutionary ever wins or even begins the revolution. The revolution begins only when the whole is fully bought in and committed to it. And it is never over.

Revolution transcends borders; the freedom of oppressed people and people of color is all bound up together wherever we are. In Cuba, South Africa, Palestine, Angola, Tanzania, Mozambique, Grenada, Venezuela, Haiti, African America, and North Dakota. We must not only root for each other but invest in each other’s struggles, lending our voices, bodies, and resources to liberation efforts which may seem distant from the immediacy of our daily existence.

Revolution is rooted in the recognition that there are certain fundamentals to which every being has a right, just by virtue of one’s birth: healthy food, clean water, decent housing, safe communities, quality healthcare, mental health services, free and quality education, community spaces, art, democratic engagement, regular vacations, sports, and places for spiritual expression are not questions of resources, but questions of political will and they are requirements of any humane society.

Revolution requires that the determination to create and preserve these things for our people takes precedent over individual drives for power, recognition, and enrichment.

A final lesson is that to be a revolutionary, you must strive to live in integrity. As a Black network committed to transformation, we are particularly grateful to Fidel for holding Mama Assata Shakur, who continues to inspire us. We are thankful that he provided a home for Brother Michael Finney Ralph Goodwin, and Charles Hill, asylum to Brother Huey P. Newton, and sanctuary for so many other Black revolutionaries who were being persecuted by the American government during the Black Power era. We are indebted to Fidel for sending resources to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake and attempting to support Black people in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina when our government left us to die on rooftops and in floodwaters. We are thankful that he provided a space where the traditional spiritual work of African people could flourish, regardless of his belief system.

With Fidel’s passing there is one more lesson that stands paramount: when we are rooted in collective vision when we bind ourselves together around quests for infinite freedom of the body and the soul, we will be victorious. As Fidel ascends to the realm of the ancestors, we summon his guidance, strength, and power as we recommit ourselves to the struggle for universal freedom. Fidel Vive!

November 28, 2016. Tags: , , , , , . Black lives matter, Communism. 2 comments.

Compare and Contrast: DONALD TRUMP vs OBAMA on Tyrant Fidel Castro’s Death

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2016/11/compare-contrast-donald-trump-obamas-statements-fidel-castro-death/

Compare and Contrast: DONALD TRUMP vs OBAMA on Tyrant Fidel Castro’s Death

November 26, 2016

Cuban Communist Fidel Castro finally died last night.

He was 90 years old.

Barack Obama and Donald Trump both released statements on Castro’s death.

President Barack Obama released a statement Saturday morning on Castro’s death.

Obama would not condemn this evil man.

Instead, Obama said “history will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”

What the hell was that supposed to mean?

Via The White House:

Statement by the President on the Passing of Fidel Castro

“At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans – in Cuba and in the United States – with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”

“For nearly six decades, the relationship between the United States and Cuba was marked by discord and profound political disagreements. During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends – bonds of family, culture, commerce, and common humanity. This engagement includes the contributions of Cuban Americans, who have done so much for our country and who care deeply about their loved ones in Cuba.”

“Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro’s family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people. In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future. As they do, the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America.”

###

Now here is President-elect Donald Trump’s statement that was just sent out:

President-Elect Donald J. Trump Statement

“Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.”

“While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.”

“Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty. I join the many Cuban Americans who supported me so greatly in the presidential campaign, including the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association that endorsed me, with the hope of one day soon seeing a free Cuba.”

November 26, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , . Barack Obama, Communism, Donald Trump. 2 comments.

Venezuelan jail reveals emaciated prisoners left starving to death (two minute video)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cks4OBHGG5U

October 29, 2016. Tags: , , , , , . Communism, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

Venezuelans wait in line for five hours for one pound of bread

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/21/world/americas/venezuela-oil-economy.html

September 20, 2016

One hundred people waited in line for five hours in June to buy a ration of about a pound of bread from a small bakery in Cumaná.

five-hours

September 20, 2016. Tags: , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

Venezuelan government arrests people because they were waiting in line for food

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/in-a-hungry-venezuela-buying-too-much-food-can-get-you-arrested/2016/09/14/b20276d6-755f-11e6-9781-49e591781754_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1

In a hungry Venezuela, buying too much food can get you arrested

September 15, 2016

BARQUISIMETO, Venezuela – The hunt for food started at 4 a.m., when Alexis Camascaro woke up to get in line outside the supermarket. By the time he arrived, there were already 100 people ahead of him.

Camascaro never made it inside. Truckloads of Venezuelan troops arrived in the darkness, arresting him and nearly 30 others seemingly pulled from the queue at random, according to his lawyer. Camascaro, 50, was charged with violating laws against interfering “directly or indirectly” with the production, transportation or sale of food. He has been in jail for three months, awaiting a hearing.

“I went to see the prosecutors and explained that he was just buying some food for his family. He’s not a bachaquero,” said Lucía Mata, Camascaro’s attorney, using the Venezuelan term for someone who buys scarce, price-capped or government-subsidized goods to resell on the black market.

Camascaro was snared in a new crackdown on Venezuelan shoppers, part of President Nicolás Maduro’s attempt to assert greater control over food distribution and consumption. Maduro blames this oil-rich country’s chronic scarcities on an “economic war” against his government waged by foreign enemies, opposition leaders, business owners and smuggling gangs.

Many economists attribute the shortages to simpler, less conspiratorial factors. Price controls and excessive regulation, they say, have discouraged domestic production, making Venezuelans ever more dependent on imported food. With petroleum prices slumping, though, hard currency for imports is lacking, leaving supermarket shelves bare.

Deadly food riots have exploded in several Venezuelan cities this year, and Maduro in recent weeks has faced rowdy pot-banging protests. In July, he gave Venezuela’s defense minister extraordinary powers to oversee the government’s elaborate system of price controls and consumer regulations, including the fingerprint scanners used to ensure that Venezuelan shoppers don’t exceed their purchase limits.

The enforcement campaign appears to be sweeping up a significant number of ordinary shoppers, many of them poor, while achieving a kind of vertical integration of economic blame.

‘Dracula’s Bus’

In a country with one of the world’s highest homicide rates, and where carjackings, muggings and kidnappings often go unpunished, the Venezuelan government has arrested or detained at least 9,400 people this year for allegedly breaking laws against hoarding, reselling goods or attempting to stand in line outside normal store hours, according to the Venezuelan human rights organization Movimiento Vinotinto. Many were taken into custody by the Venezuelan troops assigned to police the checkout aisles and the long lines snaking from supermarkets.

Ismary Quiros, a deputy director at Movimiento Vinotinto, said the law doesn’t define exactly what constitutes illegal hoarding, smuggling, or reselling goods. She said the government’s real goal is to find scapegoats for the scarcities.

The queues typically materialize whenever high-demand, government-subsidized items arrive, such as corn meal or sugar. Those goods are among the few basics that remain affordable to ordinary Venezuelans who are paid in bolivares, the country’s increasingly worthless currency. Other supermarket items that aren’t price-capped are typically better stocked but out of reach to most families.

According to the Caracas-based rights group Provea, national guard troops have periodically carried out a mass-arrest operation nicknamed “Dracula’s Bus” to round up Venezuelans trying to wait in line overnight for groceries, now a banned practice. More than 1,000 people were loaded onto buses in such sweeps last year and accused of being black marketeers, Provea researcher Intis Rodríguez said.

The operations appear to be expanding. Over one weekend in June, more than 3,800 people were detained in Barquisimeto, a city west of Caracas, for attempting to spend the night outside supermarkets, according to news reports.

Officials at Venezuela’s justice ministry did not respond to requests for information about the crackdown.

In other Venezuelan cities, pro-government mayors have ordered alleged bachaqueros — named after a jungle ant that can carry loads many times its weight — to perform community service or clean the streets. “These people were not only denied their due process rights, but also they were also given punishments that aren’t even established under Venezuelan law,” said Rodríguez, whose organization has documented 60 such cases in the state of Yaracuy.

‘All of them normal people’

The crackdown began with Maduro’s 2014 decree, the Law of Fair Prices, which was aimed at punishing businesses he said were “destabilizing” the Venezuelan economy. But few expected the government to apply the law broadly to ordinary consumers.

Clara Ramírez, an attorney in the state of Táchira along the border with Colombia, said since the beginning of the year she has represented six clients arrested after allegedly buying goods for resale on the black market. “All of them were normal people, men and women with families who were just looking for food to feed their children,” she said.

Ramírez said her clients were typically released after a few days. But in a country where people who are awaiting a court hearing account for more than half of the prison population, many of the accused get stuck in jail for weeks or even months.

Some of those arrested in the crackdown were caught in possession of goods without receipts, or proof of how they obtained excess quantities of items such as rice, toilet paper or deodorant. Others had what soldiers deemed suspicious amounts of cash. Some, like Camascaro, aren’t even sure exactly what they are accused of doing.

Raymar Tona, 34, was arrested on a Friday in May while waiting to buy diapers for her baby.

A national guardsman pulled her out of the supermarket line, burrowed into her purse and found 10,000 Venezuelan bolivares, she said. In the past, it would have been a lot of cash, but in today’s Venezuela, which has the world’s highest inflation rate, her bank notes added up to about $10.

“It was my salary for two weeks,” said Tona, a receptionist at a medical clinic. She was accused of selling spots in line, a common practice.

After spending the weekend in jail, Tona said, she decided to plead guilty and was released.

Maduro’s decrees establish prison terms of up to 14 years for the worst black-marketeers. In June, he announced that he was creating a special jail “where we will imprison all those who are responsible for bachaquero crimes.”

According to Venezuelan economist Sary Levy, as much as half of the country’s workforce has come to depend on black market income to survive — selling food, moonlighting at second jobs, or hawking goods on the street. With annual inflation running at more than 700 percent, “it’s normal that formal jobs become unattractive,” she said, and people try to sell whatever they can to get by.

With prescription drugs and hospital supplies also running low, Venezuelans in desperate straits have found themselves accused of hoarding medicine.

Isaura Pérez, 66, said she traveled three hours to Barquisimeto in July to deliver hard-to-find drugs for her 38-year-old diabetic cousin, Georgina Delgado, who was in intensive care. National guard troops arrested Pérez at the hospital entrance for allegedly trafficking medical supplies, she said.

The drugs were confiscated by the soldiers, Pérez said. Her cousin died three days later.

 

 

September 15, 2016. Tags: , , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. 1 comment.

A growing, catastrophic food crisis sows unrest in Venezuela

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJApHJAkGG8

September 14, 2016. Tags: , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

Venezuela Food Shortages Claim Lives of Malnourished Children

https://panampost.com/sabrina-martin/2016/08/26/in-venezuela-scarcity-comes-between-mothers-and-their-children/

Venezuela Food Shortages Claim Lives of Malnourished Children

August 26, 2016

When 18-month-old Royer Machado died from malnutrition in Zulia, Venezuela, the authorities did not arrest his mother.

The child had gone more than 72 hours without eating, but his mother lived in extreme poverty and couldn’t get the resources she needed; that was just the nature of Venezuela today.

The boy’s mother told officers she ran out of money, and then out of food. The baby continued to cry, so she wrapped him in a rag, gave him water and rocked him to sleep. After several days, the crying stopped. He was no longer breathing.

Officers interrogated the boy’s mother, looking for any sign of violence or mistreatment, but there was none.

“She really had no food,” one officer said.

This isn’t the only case of malnutrition taking the life of a small child over the last two months.

Ligia González, 8 months, and Elver González, 2, died from critical malnutrition in Guajira, on the west side of the country.

Hospitals in Venezuela are struggling to handle the amount of malnutrition cases coming through their doors.

At least every four days, a malnourished child arrives unconscious to the Central Hospital in San Felipe. Others tell doctors they no longer eat three times a day.

A survey conducted earlier this year by Venebarómetro showed that almost 90 percent of Venezuelans buy less food than before, and 29 percent of them are fed less than three times a day.

The study also revealed 70 percent of Venezuelans assess their economic situation as “bad,” while 89.7 percent do not have enough money to dress themselves. Seventy-nine said their income is insufficient for buying food and medicine.

Seven protests for food took place just this last July, adding to the 209 for the year. That’s an increase of 70 percent compared to July 2015, according to a study of the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict.

September 14, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

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