Venezuelans make 36 hour round trip to Brazil just to go grocery shopping

http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-venezuela-brazil-idUKKCN10L1KE

Venezuelans flood Brazil border in 36-hour grocery run

August 10, 2016

Government employee Jose Lara this month used some vacation days to take a long scenic bus ride through the verdant plateaus and sweeping savannas of southern Venezuela, but the trip was anything but a holiday.

It was a 36-hour grocery run.

Lara took an overnight bus and then a pick-up truck to get across the border to neighboring Brazil to buy food staples that have gone scarce in Venezuela’s crisis-stricken economy.

“Workers can’t even enjoy vacation anymore. Look where I am! Buying food for my children,” said Lara, 40, who was preparing to load 30-kilo (66-pound) packages of rice and flour onto a bus to complete a journey that takes close to 36 hours.

Venezuelans seeking to escape their socialist economy’s dysfunction are flooding into the remote Brazilian town of Pacaraima in search of basic goods that are prohibitively expensive or only available after hours in line.

Shoppers have been coming for months, primarily from the industrial city of Puerto Ordaz – already a 12-hour bus ride – but lately they’re also arriving from even more far flung regions across the country.

Venezuelans spend hours in supermarket lines. Many increasingly complain that they cannot get enough food to eat three meals per day.

Low oil prices and massive debt-servicing costs have left the country without foreign exchange to import goods, while price and currency controls have crippled domestic companies’ capacity to produce locally.

President Nicolas Maduro says the government is the victim of an “economic war” led by the United States.

‘THE LINE’

Under pressure from local residents after Maduro shut the western border with Colombian border in 2015, Venezuelan authorities allowed several temporary openings for similar shopping excursions in July. Colombia last month halted those trips after more than 100,000 people crossed in a single weekend.

The more remote Brazilian border was never closed.

In the Pacaraima, known to Venezuelans as “La Linea” or “The Line” because it is immediately across the border, cramped shops are now piled high with sacks of rice, sugar, and flour.

Products piled to waist height stand at the entrance of convenience stores, auto parts shops and even a farm supply store.

“It’s good business, but the price of everything is going up in Boa Vista,” said Mauricio Macedo, 26, who works at a family business that sells artisanal decorations such as clay figurines but for three months has been primarily focused on food items.

Venezuelan regulations require that staple products be sold for a pittance – a kilo of rice is set at the equivalent of $0.12. But obtaining goods at those prices requires waiting in long lines that are increasingly the site of robberies or lootings. That leaves Venezuelans reliant on the black market, where the same bag of rice fetches the equivalent of $2.20.

In Pacaraima, sugar and rice sell for about 40 percent to 45 percent less than what they would cost on Venezuela’s black market. The discount is worth it despite the cost of the trip.

Shoppers usually take a 12-hour overnight bus ride from Puerto Ordaz to the town of Santa Elena de Uairen. They then travel roughly 15 minutes by van or pick-up truck to La Linea. They spend the morning and much of the afternoon shopping, then head back across the border to catch another overnight bus.

“We’re in an economic crisis and I have to come to another country to buy food,” said Juan Sansonetti, 31, standing under the sun with a large sack of flour on his shoulder. “There isn’t much more to say, is there?”

 

August 10, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. 1 comment.

Venezuelan police threaten to put BBC reporter in jail if he doesn’t delete video footage of customers waiting in line for 12 hours at a supermarket

The BBC reports:

Thrown out of a Venezuelan supermarket by police

July 28, 2016

Shortages and the failure of systems to distribute goods make shopping for the essentials of daily life a huge challenge for many Venezuelans.

In one supermarket, where shoppers have been queuing for up to 12 hours to buy food, BBC reporter Vladimir Hernandez is surrounded by police and told to leave.

The crowd of shoppers shouts, “Let them film!” but the police threaten to hold the crew overnight in a police cell unless they delete their footage.

Here is the video footage in question:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-bef4NkNP8

August 4, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , . Economics, Venezuela. 1 comment.

Amnesty International: “Venezuela: New regime effectively amounts to forced labour”

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/07/venezuela-new-regime-effectively-amounts-to-forced-labour/

Venezuela: New regime effectively amounts to forced labour

July 28, 2016

A new decree establishing that any employee in Venezuela can be effectively made to work in the country’s fields as a way to fight the current food crisis is unlawful and effectively amounts to forced labour, said Amnesty International.

“Trying to tackle Venezuela’s severe food shortages by forcing people to work the fields is like trying to fix a broken leg with a band aid,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

“The new decree completely misses the point when it comes to findings ways for Venezuela to crawl out of the deep crisis it has been submerged in for years. Authorities in Venezuela must focus on requesting and getting much needed humanitarian aid to the millions in need across the country and develop a workable long term plan to tackle the crisis.”

The decree, officially published earlier this week, establishes that people working in public and private companies can be called upon to join state-sponsored organizations specialized in the production of food. They will be made to work in the new companies temporarily for a minimum of 60 days after which their “contracts” will be automatically renewed for an extra 60-day period or they will be allowed to go back to their original jobs.

 

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

What Seven Hours of Waiting Will Get You in Venezuela

Hugo Chavez referred to his policies as “21st century socialism.” But I don’t see how this is any different from “20th century communism.”

In a capitalist society, a person would spend these same seven hours working at a job, creating real wealth, and getting paid real money, and then after work they would make a quick stop at the supermarket to buy far more food than the scrawny amount that these people are getting for their ridiculous seven hour wait.

Communism has a lot of bad things going for it, and one of the worst is that it causes people to waste so much of their valuable time waiting in very long lines for things that people in capitalist countries can get in just a tiny fraction of that amount of time. Time is one of people’s most valuable resources, and communists don’t seem to care about it at all.

 

https://panampost.com/valerie-marsman/2015/08/19/what-seven-hours-of-waiting-will-get-you-in-venezuela/

What Seven Hours of Waiting Will Get You in Venezuela

August 19, 2015

Take a Walk Down the Atrocity Covered in Wallpaper

“The simplest explanation is usually the correct one.” ~ Occam’s razor

“Why can’t you get things? It is very difficult to explain. I understand you are upset, but you can’t give the oligarchy the upper hand. It’s a matter of being united … another economy is an option, the community economy, the one stemming from small producers … do not give these racketeers (the entrepreneurs) resources. You have to wait in line with us as well, but at least in the end you don’t pay as much.”

The above message is meant for Venezuelans, who — though bogged down by out-of-hand inflation, alarming scarcity, and despair over what might come next — choose to attend “community provision” days.

On Saturday morning, my sister-in-law decided to go to one of these events in a poor neighborhood in the heart of Caracas. She did it because organizers had announced that meat, fish, deli meats, and chicken would be available. She arrived at 6 in the morning, was given number 250, and waited in line for seven hours.

To appease my curiosity, I joined her for the final two-hour stretch.

The following is an attempt to describe what the common Venezuelan experiences at this type of event nowadays. I say it’s an “attempt,” because finding the precise words is no easy task. And I haven’t been able to find a better description, a better title, than one that pretty much works for nearly all — if not all — Chavista initiatives: an atrocity wallpapered in propaganda.

The intentions behind the community provision day are clear at the door. Placards with photos of presidents Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro posted at the entrance say: “If it wasn’t for them, this sale would not have been possible.”

The same is going on inside. There is not a single square meter in the crumbling warehouse that doesn’t show either a picture of Chávez and Maduro, a quote from Chávez, or a picture of Chávez with Fidel Castro. The latter perhaps is an attempt to justify the photos of Maduro sitting with Castro in Havana on the 89th birthday of the caudillo, amid the ongoing crisis in Venezuela.

Maduro didn’t go on his own; his wife and other officials went with him. Presumably, he charged the expenses to taxpayer funds from the country in which cancer patients — children — have to leave the hospital to protest in the street because they don’t have access to chemotherapy.

“You will be able to buy fish; the meat truck did not come, since it overturned on the way here … inside you will find corvina, white snapper, sardine, mackerel,” says one of the organizers. Here’s the first disappointment: there’s no meat, or sausage, or chicken, and no corvina or snapper, the only good white fish. Instead we must settle for mackerel and sardines, and at not much of a discount (half price relative to regular supermarkets).

The second disappointment: once you enter the warehouse there is no direct access to shopping. Instead there is a new group of chairs. Here, people are made to hear the monologue you have read at the top of the page.

Applause comes only from those who organized the operation, a community council from the area. Apathy reigns among the rest of the audience, and animosity clearly sets in among most, when they see what they can buy: ugly, green potatoes (one kilo per person, hand picked by the person handing them to you); carrots (about the same); some tomatoes that cause a reaction somewhere between repulsion and shame — while boxes of beautiful red tomatoes remain stacked against a wall.

“When will you sell those?” I ask. “Later,” they reply. I suspect they’ll sell those on the side, on the black market, and I’m not alone in my suspicion. The peppers are shamefully small. I get three micro-peppers, no more.

I can also get juices and oatmeal drinks (not milk, which is scarce), which Los Andes produces. The government has expropriated this previously ubiquitous brand, so now you can only find their products at this type of operation. Please click the link, so you can see what this dairy company’s website is for: propaganda again.

At that moment, a woman with a megaphone yells: “these are the achievements of the communal economy. We are growing.”

Raúl Castro used to say “each day, Venezuela and Cuba are becoming more and more the same.” That was in 2010, and even the most feverish mind could not have imagined an experience like the one I had on a Saturday morning. But he was telling the truth. If this is what socialism can offer, we are going to starve.

People begin to show their anger, but in a low grumble: “this is no good,” “I can’t have lost a morning for this.”

Nobody revolts, though. They know that such a person would be an “enemy of the nation,” and therefore subject to being thrown in jail, just like in any other good old fascist state. Complaining in the queue is rebellion, and the government, though inefficient in everything else, is plenty efficient at repression.

Notwithstanding, the country’s general disposition is prone to an impending uprising. Human-rights NGO Provea has been warning about it for a while; President Maduro knows. Even the community council know, though they said, as if to excuse themselves: “No one can despair. It is time to be united. We are facing an economic war. It is very difficult to explain.”

Of course it’s difficult to explain. It is very difficult to explain how the largest petrol boom in the nation’s history ended up in this shipwreck; this “Haiti” sans the earthquake. How does one explain the riches of the Chavista nomenklatura? How could anyone explain to the people waiting in line for six hours that the meat and chicken didn’t arrive, and that they will have to settle for a very few, rotten vegetables?

How long can this go on? It seems uncertain, but I don’t think the people will take it for much longer. It’s clear there is no food.

It is very difficult to explain socialism, simply because it has never worked anywhere. On the other hand, capitalism can explain itself. It’s as easy as what a certain lady said to me: “30 years ago, there was a supermarket here, and you could choose what you wanted and pay cheap for it.”

Mind you, the Venezuela back then wasn’t paradise. Yet this one, compared to that one, is definitely hell on earth. They are trying, in the most miserable, despicable way possible to tie hunger to votes, but using such bad food that the propaganda becomes anything but. It’s anti-propaganda.

Editor’s note: the author of this article expressly asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.

May 27, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Politics, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

In Venezuela, parents make their children skip school so they can spend all day waiting in line for food at the supermarket

In the real world, there is a tradeoff between time and money. But Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro never seemed to understand this.

Sure, price controls mean that families save money on their grocery bills. But if that means they have to pull their kids out of school so they can spend all day waiting in line at the supermarket, then this monetary savings from lower food prices is more than negated by the fact that the kids are skipping school.

And according to this article from the Atlantic, that is exactly what is happening in Venezuela.

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/05/venezuela-is-falling-apart/481755/

Venezuela Is Falling Apart

Scenes from daily life in the failing state

May 12, 2016

In poorer communities, parents often respond to this by taking their kids out of school: They’re more useful standing in line outside a grocery store than sitting in a classroom.

May 23, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Education, Venezuela. 1 comment.

Venezuela arrests business owner because he somehow managed to acquire enough toilet paper to properly stock his employees’ bathrooms

According to this article from the Atlantic, in Venezuela, a labor union at a private business has a clause in its contract which says that the bathrooms must always have toilet paper. I agree with the union on this.

Since price controls caused a shortage of toilet paper, the only way the employer could get enough toilet paper was to illegally buy it on the black market for a price that was higher than the government controlled price.

Now the government is accusing the business owner of “hoarding,” and he could end up going to jail for it.

Interestingly, the article also says that the government might have seized his business if he had not properly stocked the employees’ bathrooms with toilet paper. Darned if you do, and darned if you don’t!

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/05/venezuela-is-falling-apart/481755/

Venezuela Is Falling Apart

Scenes from daily life in the failing state

May 12, 2016

When a Venezuelan entrepreneur we know launched a manufacturing company in western Venezuela two decades ago, he never imagined he’d one day find himself facing jail time over the toilet paper in the factory’s restrooms. But Venezuela has a way of turning yesterday’s unimaginable into today’s normal.

The entrepreneur’s ordeal started about a year ago, when the factory union began to insist on enforcing an obscure clause in its collective-bargaining agreement requiring the factory’s restrooms to be stocked with toilet paper at all times. The problem was that, amid deepening shortages of virtually all basic products (from rice and milk to deodorant and condoms) finding even one roll of toilet paper was nearly impossible in Venezuela—let alone finding enough for hundreds of workers. When the entrepreneur did manage to find some TP, his workers, understandably, took it home: It was just as hard for them to find it as it was for him.

Toilet-paper theft may sound like a farce, but it’s a serious matter for the entrepreneur: Failing to stock the restrooms puts him in violation of his agreement with the union, and that puts his factory at risk of a prolonged strike, which in turn could lead to its being seized by the socialist government under the increasingly unpopular President Nicolas Maduro. So the entrepreneur turned to the black market, where he found an apparent solution: a supplier able to deliver, all at once, enough TP to last a few months. (We’re not naming the entrepreneur lest the government retaliate against him.) The price was steep but he had no other option—his company was at risk.

But the problem wasn’t solved.

No sooner had the TP delivery reached the factory than the secret police swept in. Seizing the toilet paper, they claimed they had busted a major hoarding operation, part of a U.S.-backed “economic war” the Maduro government holds responsible for creating Venezuela’s shortages in the first place. The entrepreneur and three of his top managers faced criminal prosecution and possible jail time.

All of this over toilet paper.

 

May 22, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Police state, Venezuela. 3 comments.

Photographs from Venezuela show that price controls on food are being enforced by a military police state

Here are some photographs from a Wall St. Journal article from last year. Hugo Chavez and his hand picked successor Nicolas Maduro have certainly turned the country into a police state. Chavez called this “socialism.” This is what happens when the government owns the means of production and controls the distribution of resources. In the long run, it must result in a police state. By comparison, in the Scandanavian countries, the farms and supermarkets are owned and operated by the private sector.

I’d be curious to see if Bernie Sanders, Dolores Huerta, Barack Obama, Sean Penn, Michael Moore, or Oliver Stone have ever said anything specifically against what Chavez and Maduro have done in regard to the kinds of things that are in these photographs. All six of those people have either praised Chavez, given an award to someone who praised Chavez, or called themselves a “socialist.”

http://www.wsj.com/articles/venezuelas-food-shortages-trigger-long-lines-hunger-and-looting-1440581400

Venezuela’s Food Shortages Trigger Long Lines, Hunger and Looting

Violent clashes flare in pockets of the country as citizens wait for hours for basics, such as milk and rice

August 26, 2015

WSJ August 26, 2015 1


Shoppers wait in a long line to enter the “Latino supermarket” in the Dr. Portillo area of Maracaibo, Venezuela, on August 12.

WSJ August 26, 2015 2


Shoppers have their fingerprints scanned while buying government-controlled corn flour at the “Latino Supermarket” in Maracaibo to prevent them from coming back for another ration.

WSJ August 26, 2015 3


National Guard soldiers stand guard in Maracaibo over bags of food confiscated from people who illegally sought to contraband state-controlled food goods for higher prices.

WSJ August 26, 2015 4


National Guard soldiers guard food confiscated from people who sought to sell it for more than the government-set prices.

WSJ August 26, 2015 5


A National Guard soldier leads detainees accused of illegally selling contraband state-controlled food goods in Maracaibo on Aug. 13.

May 19, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Police state, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

Is Barack Obama a communist? I don’t know. But here are six things I do know.

1) The Obama administration spent $1.6 million to restore graffiti that glorified communist murderers Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.
(more…)

April 13, 2015. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Barack Obama, Communism, Politics. 8 comments.

Venezuelan military tells supermarket customers not to take pictures of empty shelves

The Venezuelan military has troops stationed in supermarkets, and they are telling customers not to take pictures of empty shelves. But that hasn’t stopped people from doing it. During the first week of 2015, the Twitter hashtag #AnaquelesVaciosEnVenezuela (“Empty shelves in Venezuela”) listed more than 200,000 tweets.

For example: (posted here under fair use from https://twitter.com/Indiferencia/status/551547489565016064/photo/1 )

empty shelves

From a different website, here’s a picture of people waiting in line to buy food: (posted here under fair use from http://www.businessinsider.com/long-food-lines-are-in-venezuela-2014-2 )

food line


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January 10, 2015. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Food, Military, Police state, Political correctness, Politics, Venezuela. 3 comments.

Hugo Chavez was an incompetent, communist dictator, who wreaked havoc on Venezuela’s ability to produce goods and services

Last year, Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela, died.
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February 24, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Politics, Venezuela. 2 comments.

Argentina just set price controls on food – let’s see what happens as a result

Prices are not just random numbers that get picked out of thin air. Instead, prices communicate information about supply and demand. So when the supply and/or demand situation changes, it makes perfect sense that the price would change accordingly.

Economic theory predicts that when the government sets the price of something lower than the supply/demand equilibrium, the demand will exceed the supply, which is the definition of a shortage. More than 4,000 years of various examples of price controls from all over the world show this to be the case.

Today, the BBC reported:

Argentina pegs supermarket price rises for two months

February 4, 2013

The Argentine government has put a temporary price freeze on all products sold in the country’s main supermarket chains to try to fight inflation.

Argentina’s commerce ministry has asked consumers to monitor prices in the chains.

It wants them to keep receipts and has set up a hotline for shoppers to call if they spot any price rises.

The inflation that’s referred to in that article is caused by the government increasing the supply of money with nothing of real value to back it up. This makes the money worth less, and causes prices to rise. But that’s not a real price increase. So, as inflation devalues the currency, the government’s price freeze will actually force food sellers to lower their (real) prices.

If it really is a “temporary” measure for only two months, it’s possible that inflation might not be severe enough for the price controls to result in a substantial drop in (real) food prices.

But I am skeptical about these price controls being “temporary.” My guess is that the price controls will last a lot longer than two months, and as time goes on, inflation will devalue the real value of the currency enough so that the (real) prices will fall significantly, which will cause shortages. And then the government will wrongly blame the shortages on the supermarkets and farmers, and instead of getting rid of the price controls, the government will take action against the supermarkets and farmers, which will cause the situation to get even worse.

Of course, I could be wrong about all of this.

Anyway, let’s see what happens in Argentina as a result of these price controls.

For the record, here’s what happened after Venezuela set price caps on food a decade ago:

Since 2003, Hugo Chavez has been setting strict price controls on food, and these price controls have been causing shortages and hoarding.

In January 2008, Chavez ordered the military to seize 750 tons of food that sellers were illegally trying to smuggle across the border to sell for higher prices than what was legal in Venezuela.

In February 2009, Chavez ordered the military to temporarily seize control of all the rice processing plants in the country and force them to produce at full capacity, which they had been avoiding in response to the price caps.

In May 2010, Chavez ordered the military to seize 120 tons of food from Empresas Polar.

In March 2009, Chavez set minimum production quotas for 12 basic foods that were subject to price controls, including white rice, cooking oil, coffee, sugar, powdered milk, cheese, and tomato sauce. Business leaders and food producers claimed that the government was forcing them to produce this food at a loss.

Chavez has nationalized many large farms. Chavez said of the farmland, “The land is not private. It is the property of the state.” Some of the farmland that had been productive while under private ownership is now idle under government ownership, and some of the farm equipment sits gathering dust. As a result, food production has fallen substantially. One farmer, referring to the government officials overseeing the land redistribution, stated, “These people know nothing about agriculture.”

Chavez has seized many supermarkets from their owners. Under government ownership, the shelves in these supermarkets are often empty.

In 2010, after the government nationalized the port at Puerto Cabello, more than 120,000 tons of food sat rotting at the port.

In May 2010, after price controls caused shortages of beef, at least 40 butchers were arrested, and some of them were held at a military base and later strip searched by police.

February 4, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Communism, Politics. 2 comments.

South Africa’s communist redistribution of farmland has been a colossal failure

In their 1848 publication Manifesto of the Communist Party, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels wrote:

“The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.”

In 2009, the people of South Africa elected communist Jacob Zuma to be their new President.
(more…)

January 3, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Communism. Leave a comment.

Is Barack Obama a communist? I don’t know. But here are five things I do know.

1) The Obama administration spent $1.6 million to restore graffiti that glorified communist murderers Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.
(more…)

October 17, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Communism, Politics. 5 comments.

Obama administration congratulates Venezuela after Hugo Chavez’s reelection – here’s why I’m not surprised

After Hugo Chavez won reelection in Venezuela, the Obama administration congratulated the country. A week earlier, Chavez had said that he and Obama would vote for each other, if they were citizens of each others’ countries.

So what exactly do Obama and Chavez have in common? They both love government control of the economy, and are willing to violate their countries’ laws in order to achieve that goal. It is only because the U.S. places much tougher constitutional limits on government power that Obama has not been able to carry out these policies as far as Chavez has.

Some time ago, I wrote this post called Here are 95 examples of Barack Obama’s lying, lawbreaking, corruption, and cronyism. I also wrote this other post called Obama gives award to communist Dolores Huerta, and won’t let anti-communist hero Lech Walesa into White House. Those things reveal a lot of information about Obama’s ideology and goals.

It is only because of the United States’ constitution’s strict limits on government power that Obama has not done even worse things. In Venezuela, where the constitutional restrictions on government power are nowhere nearly as strong as those in the U.S., Chavez has done things which are much worse than what Obama has done.
(more…)

October 9, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Communism, Politics, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

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