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


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

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. Leave a 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.

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.

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.

Two minute video shows empty shelves at a Venezuelan supermarket

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtMODsO2NZ4

 

May 28, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, 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.

Bernie Sanders says he’s too busy campaigning to answer reporter’s question about the failures of socialism in Venezuela

Shame on Bernie Sanders for saying that he’s too busy with his campaign to answer this reporter’s question about the problems in Venezuela, which Hugo Chavez referred to as “21st century socialism.”

 
http://newsbusters.org/blogs/latino/edgard-portela/2016/05/26/bernie-hits-bump-univision-speechless-socialisms-failures

Bernie Hits Bump on Univision: Speechless on Socialism’s Failures

May 26, 2016

LEÓN KRAUZE, UNIVISION: I am sure that you know about this topic: various leftist governments, especially the populists, are in serious trouble in Latin America. The socialist model in Venezuela has the country near collapse. Argentina, also Brazil, how do you explain that failure?

BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: You are asking me questions…

LEÓN KRAUZE, UNIVISION: I am sure you’re interested in that.

BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: I am very interested, but right now I’m running for President of the United States.

LEÓN KRAUZE, UNIVISION: So you don’t have an opinion about the crisis in Venezuela?

BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: Of course I have an opinion, but as I said, I’m focused on my campaign.

May 26, 2016. Tags: , , , , . Communism, Politics, Venezuela. 1 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.

New York Times: Dying Infants and No Medicine – Inside Venezuela’s Failing Hospitals

This is what Hugo Chavez referred to as “21st century socialism.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/16/world/americas/dying-infants-and-no-medicine-inside-venezuelas-failing-hospitals.html

Dying Infants and No Medicine: Inside Venezuela’s Failing Hospitals

Venezuelan hospital

 

May 15, 2016

By morning, three newborns were already dead…

… chronic shortages of antibiotics, intravenous solutions…

Doctors kept ailing infants alive by pumping air into their lungs by hand for hours. By nightfall, four more newborns had died…

Gloves and soap have vanished from some hospitals…

… there was not enough water to wash blood from the operating table…

The rate of death among babies under a month old increased more than a hundredfold in public hospitals run by the Health Ministry…

The rate of death among new mothers in those hospitals increased by almost five times in the same period…

… two premature infants died recently on the way to the main public clinic because the ambulance had no oxygen tanks. The hospital has no fully functioning X-ray or kidney dialysis machines… some patients lie on the floor in pools of their blood…

… people are dying for lack of antibiotics…

… without water, gloves, soap or antibiotics, a group of surgeons prepared to remove an appendix that was about to burst, even though the operating room was still covered in another patient’s blood…

… the rotting mattress had left her back covered in sores…

The pharmacy here has bare shelves…

 

May 16, 2016. Tags: , , , . Communism, Health care, Venezuela. 6 comments.

Venezuela’s Chaos: Every day is like Insane Black Friday

This video is called “Venezuela’s Chaos: Every day is like Insane Black Friday.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isO52VeBUaQ

To see how it got to be that way, see this post that I wrote last year: Venezuelan military tells supermarket customers not to take pictures of empty shelves

 

May 13, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Politics, 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


(more…)

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

Marco Rubio explains that Venezuela is turning into a Cuban-style dictatorship

In this excellent 14 minute speech, Marco Rubio explains that Venezuela is turning into a Cuban-style dictatorship.

He asks what good is Cuba’s high literacy rate if the government prevents the people from reading the things that they want to read.

He asks what good is Cuba’s medical care if doctors can make more money from driving a taxi than from working as a doctor.

He asks why, if Cuba is as great as its supporters in the U.S. say it is, do so many refugees, doctors, and baseball players flee Cuba for the United States, instead of it being the other way around.

He says the reason Venezuela has a shortage of toiler paper is because communism doesn’t work.

He talks about the arrests and censorship of protestors in Venezuela.

He argues for a U.S. embargo against Venezuela, which is the only thing he says that I don’t see agree with. I think an embargo would hurt the people of Venezuela, and would make it easier for their government to censor and oppress them. I also oppose the U.S. embargo against Cuba. I think the U.S. should offer citizenship to every anti-communist citizen of Venezuela and Cuba. I think we should send lots of large ships to Cuba every day and bring back every Cuban citizen who wishes to live in the U.S. After a few months, Castro wouldn’t have anyone to rule over, because everyone would have left the country.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_wKhXurFyI

February 26, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , . Communism, Police state, Politics, Venezuela. 4 comments.

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