Posts Tagged ‘venezuela’

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What Caused Venezuela’s Tragic Collapse?

August 10, 2017

Socialism kills.

Quod erat demonstrandum.

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Inside Venezuela’s hidden healthcare crisis

January 11, 2017

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Feliz Año Nuevo, Venezuela

December 28, 2016

I wish I could say this news was a surprise. But I can’t and I doubt many others can either.

Venezuela military trafficking food as people go hungry

Puerto Cabello, Venezuela — When hunger drew tens of thousands of Venezuelans to the streets last summer in protest, President Nicolas Maduro turned to the military to manage the country’s diminished food supply, putting generals in charge of everything from butter to rice.

But instead of fighting hunger, the military is making money from it, an Associated Press investigation shows. That’s what grocer Jose Campos found when he ran out of pantry staples this year. In the middle of the night, he would travel to an illegal market run by the military to buy corn flour — at 100 times the government-set price.

“The military would be watching over whole bags of money,” Campos said. “They always had what I needed.”

With much of the oil country on the verge of starvation and malnourished children dying in pediatric wards, food trafficking has become big business in Venezuela. And the military is at the heart of the graft, according to documents and interviews with more than 60 officials, company owners and workers, including five former generals.

As a result, food is not reaching those who most need it. […]

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Feliz Navidad, Venezuela

December 11, 2016

Ho, ho, ho… The socialist destruction of Venezuelan society grinds on.

The BBC reports:

Venezuela seizes Christmas toys to distribute to poor

Venezuelan authorities have arrested two toy company executives and seized almost four million toys, which they say they will distribute to the poor.

Officials accused the company of hoarding toys and hiking prices in the run-up to Christmas.
Last week, the government issued an order to retailers to reduce prices on a range of goods by 30%.

Business owners say the order is a populist political move, and pushing them towards bankruptcy.

Venezuela’s consumer protection agency, Sundde, said toy distributor Kreisel had stockpiled the goods and was reselling them at a margin of up to 50,000%.

“Our children are sacred, we will not let them rob you of Christmas,” it said in a tweet, along with photos and video of thousands of boxes of toys.

[One tweet in Spanish omitted here.]

[…]

Via InternationalLiberty


During this last year, the Venezuelan government and its opposition have been in talks mediated by the Vatican. The topics ranged from politics to allowing humanitarian aid to Venezuelans. Here’s a report from the Caracas Chronicles about the humanitarian aid.

The government steals medicine donated by the Catholic church
The Humanitarian Channel Today

Remember the "Humanitarian Channel" the government and the opposition had agreed to set up in Vatican-mediated talks? That’s right, the one that was meant to be administered by Caritas, the Catholic Church’s global charity. That one.

How’s that been going?

Well, funny you should ask…

[Five tweets in Spanish omitted here.]

In short, the government’s tax inspectorate, Seniat, openly announces that they’re impounding church-donated medicines at port because they lack requisite customs paperwork. The shipment was declared "legally abandoned" and then "adjudicated" to the government-run Social Security administration.

You’d think that would make for some awkwardness at the next set of talks, right?

Joke’s on you: the government’s not going to talks anymore, sucker!


Left image caption: I hate you all…
Text: The ‘Grinch’ of Maduro and Diosdado robbed the Venezuelans of Christmas. The saddest in the 21st century

(Who’s Diosdado? The Frank Underwood of Venezuela.)

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Socialism kills

October 5, 2016

Remember that the next time someone makes a "Do It For The Children" argument for more state control.

Venezuela: Health Crisis Means Kid’s Scraped Knee Can Be Life or Death

It was just a scraped knee. So 3-year-old Ashley Pacheco’s parents did what parents do: They gave her a hug, cleaned the wound twice with rubbing alcohol and thought no more of it.

Two weeks later, the little girl writhed screaming in a hospital bed. Her breathing came in ragged gasps as she begged passing patients for a sip of water.

Her mother stayed day and night in the trauma unit. She kept Ashley on an empty stomach in case she might cut in front of hundreds of other patients for emergency surgery in one of the hospital’s few functioning operating rooms.

Her father scoured Caracas for scarce antibiotics to fight the infection spreading through his daughter’s body.

They had no idea how much worse it was going to get.

If Venezuela has become dangerous for the healthy, it is now deadly for those who fall ill.

One-in-three people admitted to public hospitals last year died, the government reports. The number of operational hospital beds has fallen by 40 percent since just 2014. And as the economy fails, the country is running short on 85 percent of medicines, according to the national drugstore trade group. […]

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Go to bed with Karl

August 2, 2016

…and wake up with Uncle Joe. Here’s more news about the devolution of Venezuela. I wonder if Maduro et alia have come up with a catchy name for this, like China’s Cultural Revolution or Russia’s Five Year Plans.

Maybe they’re sticking with CLAP.

Venezuela to reassign private, public workers to agriculture

Caracas (AFP) – Venezuela said private and public companies will be obliged to let their workers be reassigned to grow crops, in a dramatic move in the middle of the country’s crippling economic crisis.

The Labor Ministry announced the measure as part of the economic emergency already in effect; it will require all employers in Venezuela to let the state have their workers “to strengthen production” of food.

President Nicolas Maduro’s government is fighting for its life amid staggering inflation and shortages of everything from food to toilet paper, diapers and shampoo.

Maduro, like his predecessor Hugo Chavez, has increasingly moved the country towards taking over parts of the economy.

Now, Venezuela’s state-led socialist government has said it is ready to take the next big step — giving itself authority to order individuals from one job to another.

It was not immediately clear when the temporary measure will kick in, or for how long workers will be sent to the fields. […]

Regardless of what they may call it, $100 says that the usual privation and misery will be the result.

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Venezuelan CLAP

June 23, 2016

Wow… Take a lesson about how to FUBAR your country.

Whatever happened to “To each, according to his need”? I don’t recall that maxim mentioning party membership.

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Out of the agony?

May 4, 2016

Here’s an editorial in last Sunday’s Washington Post that talks about many of the things I’ve mentioned in my posts about Venezuela over the last three years. (My emphasis below.)

We ignore Venezuela’s imminent implosion at our peril

The encouraging news from Latin America is that the leftist populists who for 15 years undermined the region’s democratic institutions and wrecked its economies are being pushed out — not by coups and juntas, but by democratic and constitutional means. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina is already gone, vanquished in a presidential election, and Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff is likely to be impeached in the coming days.

The tipping point is the place where the movement began in the late 1990s: Venezuela, a country of 30 million that despite holding the world’s largest oil reserves has descended into a dystopia where food, medicine, water and electric power are critically scarce. Riots and looting broke out in several blacked-out cities last week, forcing the deployment of troops. A nation that 35 years ago was the richest in Latin America is now appealing to its neighbors for humanitarian deliveries to prevent epidemics and hunger.

The regime that fostered this nightmare, headed by Hugo Chávez until his death in 2013, is on the way out: It cannot survive the economic crisis and mass discontent it has created. The question is whether the change will come relatively peacefully or through an upheaval that could turn Venezuela into a failed state and destabilize much of the region around it. […]

And today I came across a post at Business Insider, featuring this photo. (Hambre means hunger.)

hambre-en-venezuela

‘We want out of this agony’: What it’s like to eat in a country that’s on the verge of collapse

Despite breathless coverage of Venezuela’s vanishing supply of condoms, toilet paper, and beer, perhaps the country’s most debilitating shortage has been that of food, which appears to be a motivating factor for growing antigovernment sentiment.

“I want the recall because I don’t have food,” one woman told the Venezuelan commentary site Contrapunto, referring to a referendum to recall President Nicolas Maduro that has so far reportedly drawn more than a million signatures in support.

“We want out of this agony — there is too much need in the streets,” another woman told Contrapunto. “We have much pressure because there is no food and every day we have to ask ourselves what we are going to eat.”

Government supporters have long pointed proudly to the improvement in eating under socialist leader Hugo Chavez, who used oil income to subsidize food for the poor during his 14 years in office (1999 to 2013) and won UN plaudits for it.

But Reuters notes that Maduro, Chavez’s successor, has faced a collapse in the price of oil, which provides almost all of Venezuela’s foreign income. He has also blamed an opposition-led “economic war,” which critics deride as an excuse.

Living in a severe recession and a dysfunctional state-run economy, poorer families say they sometimes skip meals and rely more on starch foods, Reuters reports.

“We are eating worse than before,” Liliana Tovar, a Caracas resident, told Reuters in late April. “If we eat breakfast, we don’t eat lunch, if we eat lunch, we don’t eat dinner, and if we eat dinner, we don’t eat breakfast.”

As Scott Adams said, "When one person doesn’t understand economics, we call it ignorance. When millions don’t, we call it a political movement."

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They’re paying the piper in Venezuela

February 16, 2016

Here’s the start of a recent article about Venezuela in the Wall Street Journal. It’s behind their paywall, of course.

Venezuela’s Collapse Brings ‘Savage Suffering’
Dying infants, chronic power outages and empty shelves mark the world’s worst-performing economy

CARACAS, Venezuela—In a hospital in the far west of this beleaguered country, the economic crisis took a grim toll in the past week: Six infants died because there wasn’t enough medicine or functioning respirators.

Here in the capital, the crisis has turned ordinary life into an ordeal for nearly everyone. Chronic power outages have prompted the government to begin rationing electricity, darkening shopping malls. Homes and apartments regularly suffer water shortages.

Rosalba Castellano, 74 years old, spent hours this week in what has become a desperate routine for millions: waiting in long lines to buy whatever food is available. She walked away with just two liters of cooking oil.

“I hoped to buy toilet paper, rice, pasta,” she said. “But you can’t find them.” Her only choice will be to hunt for the goods at marked-up prices on the black market. The government, she said, “is putting us through savage suffering.”

The National Assembly, now controlled by the opposition, declared a food emergency on Thursday—an attempt to spur the government of President Nicolás Maduro to, among other things, ease price controls that have created shortages of everything from medicine to meat.

“The people are being left without the ability to feed themselves,” said lawmaker Omar Barboza.

Inflation in this oil-rich country is expected to hit a world’s-worst 700% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. The economy shrank by 10% last year and is expected to decline another 8% this year, according to the IMF, the worst performance in the world. And there is no end in sight. […]

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So food is a controlled substance in Venezuela?

August 19, 2015

I’m taking this video at face value. That is, I don’t know for certain how serious or how frequent the food shortages are in Venezuela. Based on other reports, though, I think they’re both pretty serious and pretty frequent.

So I have to wonder what the hell is going on When I see the military chasing down a food "smuggler."

Here’s a video from Operacion Libertad Venezuela.

¿Debería la gente espere a que el pan? Creo que no. El pan debe esperar a la gente.

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You can’t blame the wreck on the train

March 21, 2015

It looks like the Venezuelan government is still fighting that toilet paper conspiracy, among others.

Fetch me my lance, Sancho!

Venezuela To Start Fingerprinting Supermarket Shoppers

Back in August, when we wrote about the latest instance of trouble in Maduro’s socialist paradise, we cautioned that as a result of the economic collapse in the Latin American nation (and this was even before the plunge in crude made the “paradise” into the 9th circle of hell), Venezuelans soon may need to have their fingerprints scanned before they can buy bread and other staples. This unprecedented step was proposed after Maduro had the brilliant idea of proposing mandatory grocery fingerprinting system to combat food shortages. He said then that “the program will stop people from buying too much of a single item”, but did not say when it would take effect. […]

Unfortunately for the struggling Venezuelan population, the time has arrived and as AP reported over the weekend, Venezuela “will begin installing 20,000 fingerprint scanners at supermarkets nationwide in a bid to stamp out hoarding and panic buying” as of this moment. […]

On Saturday, President Nicolas Maduro said that seven large private retail chains had voluntarily agreed to install the scanners.

Last month the owners of several chains of supermarkets and drugstores were arrested for allegedly artificially creating long queues by not opening enough tills.

It gets better: Maduro also accused Colombian food smugglers of buying up price-controlled goods in state-run supermarkets along the border.

For the first time in recent history the economists who say the effort is bound to fail, are right. They blame Venezuela’s rigid price controls that discourage local manufacturing and the recent slide in world oil prices that has further diminished the supply of dollars available to import everything from milk to cars.

As BBC further adds, in January the hashtag #AnaquelesVaciosEnVenezuela (“Empty shelves in Venezuela”) became a worldwide Twitter trend, with over 200,000 tweets as Venezuelans tweeted pictures of empty supermarket shelves around the country.

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Like watching your sister’s kids go to pot

September 10, 2014

The more news I read from Venezuela, the more anti-socialist (or anti-statist, to be clearer) object lessons I see.

To set the scene, Venezuela is a member of OPEC – that’s the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. And Venezuela used to export a fair amount of oil. But here’s a graph of its production for the last 50 years — which is down by about 1/3 in the last 15 — so now Venezuela’s ready to start importing oil.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but you’ll recall that el señor Chávez was first elected in 1999.

oil-production-venezuela
(Graph from EnergyInsights.net.)

Venezuela Set To Import Oil

The management acumen of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro continues to amaze. Reuters:

Algeria is in talks to export crude oil to fellow OPEC member Venezuela, Algerian Energy Minister Youcef Yousfi said on Tuesday, confirming a Reuters report. […]

“Yes, we are in talks,” Yousfi told Reuters when asked whether Algeria was planning to export crude oil to Venezuela. He declined to provide details.

More details come care of the Miami Herald:

It turns out that Venezuela’s own production of light crudes has plummeted since the late President Hugo Chávez took office in 1999, and the country desperately needs light crudes to blend with its Orinoco Basin extra heavy crude oils. Without such a blend, the Orinoco Basin’s extra heavy crude is too dense to be transported through pipelines to Venezuelan ports and exported abroad.

Venezuela’s oil production, which accounts for 95 percent of the country’s export earnings, should be used in world classrooms as a textbook case of what happens when a populist government starts distributing a country’s wealth in cash subsidies, without investing in maintenance and innovation. Much like happened with Cuba’s once flourishing sugar industry, Venezuela’s Chávez-inspired populism has destroyed the goose that laid the golden eggs.

In 1999, when Chávez took office, PDVSA had 51,000 employees and produced 63 barrels of crude a day per employee. Fifteen years later, PDVSA had 140,000 employees, and produced 20 barrels of crude a day per employee, according to an Aug. 14 report by the France Press news agency. […]

There was a popular riddle bandied about the Soviet Union back in communist days that went something like this: Question: if the Soviet Union conquered the Sahara, what would happen? Answer: nothing for 50 years, then a shortage of sand.

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When insanity becomes normal

April 11, 2014

I have no comments about the situation in Venezuela to add to the ones I’ve made before, aside from this: Pity the people of Venezuela.

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Should people wait for bread?

March 12, 2014

Or should bread wait for people?

Roberto Rodríguez M. ‏@esosiquetetengo

People is marked like this in #Venezuela to be able to buy food pic.twitter.com/A9kXrfvJeJ

venezuelan-tattoo


From Business Insider, a report about lines at some Venezuelan grocery stores. When the columnist writes ‘long’, she means long.

Venezuelans Are Marked With Numbers To Stand In Line At Government Supermarkets

It’s hard to get a sense of what a food shortage is like unless you’ve lived through one, but this tidbit from Venezuela serves as a chilling illustration.

The lines to get into government supermarkets are so long that people mark their arms with their place in line. It’s not a permanent tattoo — just a pen — but the point is to make sure that the long lines stay as orderly as possible. […]

According to a source familiar with what’s going on, this number-scribbling takes place outside large cities like Caracas, and it doesn’t happen in private supermarkets. However, private supermarkets can set a limit to the number of items a person can buy. For example: You can only pick up 4 liters of milk, 2 liters of oil, 2 kilos of sugar etc.

And that’s if the market even has those items.

People also have numbers on their ID cards, which decide which days they can even get in line to shop at supermarkets like San Cristobal’s Bicentenario, according to AFP.


A picture’s worth a thousand words.

SocialismWaitsForBread

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What’s going on in Venezuela

February 19, 2014

I’m a little surprised at how many posts I’ve written about Venezuela. It’s not as though I have any special interest in the country, but it’s certainly a textbook example of how things can go wrong under a Socialist government.

I don’t believe that the leaders of Venezuela are all socialists in good faith. I suspect that many of them are just thugs using socialism to legitimize the take-over of their country. It wouldn’t be the first that had happened.

There are peaceful, law-abiding socialist governments after all, so I don’t assume that the violence in Venezuela is solely due to socialism. And there are plenty of fascist tyrannies on the right; the left has no monopoly on civil violence.

But socialist or fascist, they’re all statists of one stripe or another. A leopard may change his politics daily but he never changes his spots.


It has mystified me since I was a teenager why people would give up control of anything else to the social agent which controls the guns — i.e., to a government which controls the police and military.

Why in the world would you trust that supreme armed authority in any country with controlling public media, or controlling an economy, or with managing the health care system? The temptations to corruption are so much stronger when the power is concentrated in the government.

That’s why I think socialist governments tend to encourage strong men and tyrants to take power. As I told a socialist friend of mine a few years ago, "When you go to bed with Karl, you’re likely to wake up with Uncle Joe."

Let’s look at the alternative: is the market always fair and even-handed? Hell no, it’s not. Some will rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen. Business people are no more angels than bureaucrats are. We’re always dealing with the crooked timber of humanity.

But dealing with a market at least leaves you with more alternatives than dealing with a government. Some particular business may give you ‘the business’, but it won’t send you to prison and it won’t conscript you (or your child) to fight in an unjust war.

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Venezuelan car markets, part 2

February 13, 2014

My last post about Venezuela concerned how the statists running the country were planning to micro-manage the used car market.

Here’s an article in USA Today about what they’ve done to the new car market (via Carpe Diem).

Venezuela car industry slips into idle

CARACAS, Venezuela — Leonardo Hernandez had hoped to buy a new car this year, ending nearly two years of waiting on various lists at different dealerships throughout the country.

Those hopes were dashed last week when Toyota Motor Co. said it would shut down its assembly operations in Venezuela due to the government’s foreign exchange controls that have crippled imports and made it impossible to bring in parts needed to build its vehicles.

The country’s other car manufacturers, including General Motors and Ford, haven’t even started operations this year, while waiting for needed parts to arrive.

“I desperately need a new car for work,” said Hernandez, who works as a salesman. “I have been waiting and waiting, and now this. I have no idea what I am going to do. And I can’t even find spare parts for the old car I have.”

Toyota joins a long list of companies saying they are having to curtail or stop operations in the South American country thanks to the government’s foreign exchange regime, which the late President Hugo Chavez created in 2003 to fight capital outflow.

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You’d still be wrong

December 9, 2013

…if you thought "the lessons from letting governments mismanage economies would be apparent to people by now and that they wouldn’t let their governments try that" (as I wrote six months ago).

This article from The Christian Science Monitor reports that the Venezuelan government is still trying to micro-manage the country’s economy in the usual statist manner. That is, by force and the threat of force: "levying hefty fines and even jail time on venders who don’t comply with government-approved prices." (My emphasis below.)

Venezuela: where used car salesmen are king?

For the past nine months, Luis Medina, a building caretaker, has scoured new car listings, searching for a light truck or SUV. Despite having the cash in hand, he’s regularly turned away from dealerships due to years-long waiting lists.

“At this point it’s whatever’s available,” he says.

New cars in Venezuela have become something of a rarity, yet many like Mr. Medina balk at the thought of buying used. “They’re far too expensive for what they’re worth,” he says.

The premise may leave car enthusiasts in other parts of the world scratching their heads, but vehicles actually gain in value in Venezuela – as soon as they’re driven off the new or used lot. Shortages and government-mandated currency controls have led to higher preowned car prices, as many consumers are desperate to find a vehicle.

On TuCarro.com, a popular used car website, a secondhand 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee is more than double the price of a new one. Similarly, five-year-old Ford Fiestas and Explorers easily match factory sticker prices.

But in a move to protect consumers, Venezuela’s National Assembly has sought to throw the brakes on soaring car costs. Last month, a bill was passed that, if signed into a law by President Nicolás Maduro, would attempt to regulate both new and used car prices, levying hefty fines and even jail time on venders who don’t comply with government-approved prices.

As though the poor citizens of Venezuela don’t have it bad enough with 45% inflation, now they’re probably facing price caps when selling used cars — as though the boys in Caracas have all the used car angles figured already.

When do you think the Venezuelan government will figure out that citizens are both consumers (buyers) and producers (sellers) in a used goods market? I haven’t met many people who’ve bought used cars but never sold any. Have you?

Will the Venezuelan government ever make that connection? Or will it be too proud of its new law to ‘protect consumers’ to notice that today’s buyer is tomorrow’s seller?

Speaking of the Venezuelan government, I wonder how its campaign against that nasty toilet paper conspiracy turned out?

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Back to basics

June 2, 2013

You’d think the lessons from letting governments mismanage economies would be apparent to people by now and that they wouldn’t let their governments try that. But you’d be wrong.

Hope springs eternal in the socialist breast, to paraphrase Pope. (I’ll be charitable and call it hope, though blind faith is a better description.)

This article’s from The Guardian.

Venezuela hopes to wipe out toilet paper shortage by importing 50m rolls

First milk, butter, coffee and cornmeal ran short. Now Venezuela is running out of the most basic of necessities – toilet paper.

Blaming political opponents for the shortfall, as it does for other shortages, the government says it will import 50m rolls to boost supplies.

That was little comfort to consumers struggling to find toilet paper on Wednesday.

“This is the last straw,” said Manuel Fagundes, a shopper hunting for tissue in Caracas. “I’m 71 years old and this is the first time I’ve seen this.”

One supermarket visited by the Associated Press in the capital on Wednesday was out of toilet paper. Another had just received a fresh batch, and it quickly filled up with shoppers as the word spread.

“I’ve been looking for it for two weeks,” said Cristina Ramos. “I was told that they had some here and now I’m in line.”

Economists say Venezuela’s shortages stem from price controls meant to make basic goods available to the poorest parts of society and the government’s controls on foreign currency.

“State-controlled prices – prices that are set below market-clearing price – always result in shortages. The shortage problem will only get worse, as it did over the years in the Soviet Union,” said Steve Hanke, professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University.

I found the idea of blaming political opponents for the shortage particularly funny. There’s a toilet paper conspiracy in Venezuela? Heh.

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