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Religion, Politics and World Events They make great dinner conversation, don't you think? plus Political Film

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Old 10-02-15, 01:41 PM   #101
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Troy Stiffler View Post
Do people believe that we'd have the problems that Venezuela has, if we had a socialist-leaning moderate president?
Some do. All I ever hear about "socialism" is "Well, it worked so well in Soviet Russia!"
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Old 12-08-15, 02:14 PM   #102
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

Now just waiting to see if the Socialist thugs give up power peacefully.




Quote:
Venezuela’s Opposition Shouldn’t Celebrate Yet

By RAÚL STOLKDEC. 8, 2015

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Nicolás Maduro could not hide his disappointment after Sunday’s legislative elections. In an address on state TV, he spoke slowly, taking long pauses, it seemed, to find the strength to admit a painful truth: His United Socialist Party of Venezuela had suffered a crushing defeat. At first, Mr. Maduro delivered what sounded like a coherent speech that would lead to a message of acceptance and reconciliation among Venezuelans. But after a few minutes he awoke from the temporary spell of common sense and went on to blame an “economic war” waged by the right wing in Venezuela and abroad for the ruling party’s loss.


Mr. Maduro is right to blame the economy for his extreme unpopularity. Triple-digit inflation is eating away at salaries and shortages have Venezuelans waiting in hours long lines just to buy sugar, diapers and other basic goods. But this crisis is of the government’s making, not the result of a “war” by shadowy right-wing forces. And that’s why the opposition was able to endure a tough campaign and break through a rigged electoral system.

It was a historic win: More than 74 percent of Venezuelans voted — up from 66 percent in the last parliamentary election — and 112 of the National Assembly’s 167 seats went to the opposition coalition, giving it the coveted supermajority. But before the opposition celebrates its success, it would do well to look back at the last 17 years since President Hugo Chávez, Mr. Maduro’s predecessor and ideological godfather, took power.

The “Chavistas” have proved again and again that they are democrats when they win a vote and authoritarians when they lose. It would be surprising if things were different this time around. Indeed, the opposition-controlled National Assembly may be powerless before its term even begins if the government decides to try to cripple it.

There are unsettling precedents. In 2007, a referendum on radical constitutional reforms put forward by Mr. Chávez failed by a narrow 51-to-49 margin. Mr. Chávez insulted the opposition’s victory, crudely calling it meaningless, and over the next several years enacted every one of the rejected reforms, including a controversial amendment abolishing term limits on the presidency.

In the 2010 legislative elections, after a tight race in which the opposition and the ruling party scored virtually equal shares of the national popular vote, the opposition ended up with fewer seats than the government’s party thanks to gerrymandering by the national elections agency. Still, the election took away the Chavistas’ supermajority. But Mr. Chávez saw the writing on the wall and took precautions: Just before the election, the exiting National Assembly rushed through a law allowing the president to rule by decree for 18 months, an act that wouldn’t have passed in the new legislature.

The current National Assembly will leave office in January. It would surprise no one if it used its remaining weeks to enact another law that would hand the president legislative powers and disable the newly opposition-dominated body. The incoming National Assembly could try to annul this law, but in that case Mr. Maduro and his party still have other options. The Supreme Tribunal of Justice, Venezuela’s highest court, has vast powers to check the Parliament and may reverse whatever decision the new opposition majority takes.

This kind of legal maneuvering now looks likely. Two months ago, 13 of the Supreme Tribunal’s 32 justices simultaneously requested early retirement. Most of their terms were supposed to end in 2016, leaving the job of appointing their replacements to the new National Assembly. While it’s impossible to know for sure, many suspect that this was done at the suggestion of the ruling party; Venezuela’s highest court has never contradicted the executive branch in nine years. If the exiting National Assembly rushes through the appointment of new justices, the ruling party will have secured 13 new votes on the tribunal for the next 12 years.

Can Mr. Maduro afford to subvert Venezuela’s democracy like this? When Mr. Chávez undertook these sorts of measures, the price of oil was high — as was his popularity. But this year, the president’s approval rating has been hovering in the 20s. Oil prices are at a decade low, putting tremendous pressure on the government’s coffers. There are no official figures on inflation — which itself should be an alarming symptom of the poor state of the Venezuelan economy — but experts say it could be up to 200 percent next year.

Passing a bogus law giving the executive branch legislative powers and rigging the courts to undermine the Parliament would be a dangerous path for Mr. Maduro. He would not only be engaging in constitutional fraud, adding to a growing list of prosecutable offenses, but he would be ignoring the demands of a fed-up electorate that so far has been patient and generally avoided violent protests.

All eyes are on Mr. Maduro, and he is risking whatever support he may have left in the region as well as the survival of his United Socialist Party of Venezuela. But if history is any guide, he is likely to be tempted to nullify the election results and grab as much power as he can.

The new members of the Parliament will be sworn in on Jan. 5, 2016. The weeks before then will be critical for determining whether Mr. Maduro will be willing to work with the National Assembly, prove that rule of law exists in Venezuela and deal with the tanking economy — or if he will insist on fighting fictional wars. If he cares about his country’s future, he’ll sit down with the opposition.




Raúl Stolk is a Venezuelan lawyer and writer. He blogs at caracaschronicles.com.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/09/op...-yet.html?_r=0
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Old 05-01-16, 02:47 AM   #103
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

I don't like beer.

But if I did, and I lived in Venezuela, I'd have one more reason to be upset.


http://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/29/venez...more-beer.html

Venezuela’s economic woes deepen: No more beer

April 29, 2016

Reuters

Venezuela's largest beer maker halted the last of its four production plants on Friday in a spat with the government over access to foreign currency, threatening a shortage in a nation already hit by severe scarcities of food and other products.

Empresas Polar, the largest private company in Venezuela, had warned it would end production on Friday because President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government was refusing to release it dollars to import malted barley under strict exchange controls.

Operations at Polar's plant in San Joaquin, which had been its last still in production, were stopped on Friday morning, a company spokeswoman said. "With this, activities at the four plants of Polar Brewery are halted," she added.

Union leader Arquimides Sequera confirmed the halt.

"Today the morning shift was suspended at the San Joaquin plant," he said. "That was the last one to be stopped, and Polar's biggest."

Polar makes about 80 percent of the beer consumed in Venezuela.

Maduro's government often accuses Polar of exaggerating its dollar needs and hoarding products as part of an "economic war" by the business community, politicians and the United States aimed at undermining socialism in Venezuela.

The OPEC nation is struggling with a recession, soaring consumer prices and chronic shortages.

Officials have said Polar's billionaire president, Lorenzo Mendoza, should spend his own offshore money if he needs dollars.

Earlier this week, in an obvious reference to Polar, Maduro threatened to seize any plants halted by private companies and hand them over to workers. "Any plant that is shut will be recovered, it is a serious crime against production," he said.

Polar is also well known in Venezuela for producing the flour to make the beloved national staple "arepas", a form of cornmeal flatbread.
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Old 05-08-16, 01:53 AM   #104
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/new...-assassinated/

Leader opposition party in Venezuela assassinated

May 7, 2016

Venezuelan politician German Mavare, leader of the opposition UNT party, died Friday after being shot in the head, an assassination that occurred in the western state of Lara, his organization said.

"The board of the UNT expresses its deepest sorrow for the slaying of colleague German Mavare. We demand justice and an end to violence," was the message posted on the Twitter account of the UNT party, headed by jailed ex-presidential candidate and former governor of Zulia state, Manuel Rosales.

The mayor of Iribarren in Lara state, Alfredo Ramos, said on his Twitter account minutes after the incident occurred before dawn Friday: "German Mavare, of the popular urbanization of Carucieña, a tireless fighter for social causes, has just been hit by a bullet in the head."

For his part, Luis Florido, an opposition lawmaker of the Voluntad Popular party, said on Twitter: "German Mavare died. A red bullet ended his life. Politics today is high risk. We demand an investigation of the case #NoMoreViolence #Lara".

The authorities have not yet issued a statement about the matter.
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Old 05-12-16, 12:38 AM   #105
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

http://www.wsj.com/articles/venezuel...ame-1462738401

Venezuela’s Hunger Is No Game

Inflation hit 180% in late 2015. Little food is available, and most people can’t afford it.



The line to buy basic food items at a supermarket in Caracas, Venezuela, April 28. Photo: Reuters

May 8, 2016

In his craving for power, the late Hugo Chávez pledged to redistribute Venezuela’s wealth to the poor masses. The god-father of “21st-century socialism” seems to have been unaware that the resources he promised to shower on his people had to first be produced.

Fifteen years into the Bolivarian revolution, Venezuela is facing dire food shortages. A crisis may still be averted—but only with a sharp reversal of the policies that have destroyed the country’s productive capacity. A nation either has to produce what it consumes or must import it. What it imports is paid for with foreign exchange from exports or debt.

Venezuela has long relied on oil dollars to pay for imports. But it also has grown corn, sorghum and rice, and it has had cattle, poultry and fishing industries. Now the nation is in trouble not only because of lower oil revenues and institutionalized corruption but also because government policies have badly damaged domestic production.

Among the many stupidities that socialism promotes is the idea that by imposing price controls and forbidding profits, government can make food both cheap and widely available.

The opposite is true, and Venezuela proves the rule. An August-September 2015 survey by the multi-university, Caracas-based social and economic research project Encovi found that 87% of those polled reported that they did not have sufficient income for food. Their privation is a result of artificially holding down prices, which creates shortages. Consumers are forced to scurry about black markets looking for what they need and then pay dearly for it—if they can. They face killer inflation which, according to the central bank, was 180.9% on an annual basis in the fourth quarter of 2015, up from 82.4% in the first quarter of last year.

Hunger is only a symptom of a broader economic collapse, all along the production chain, brought on by state diktat.

In a 1958 essay “I, Pencil,” Leonard Read, founder of the Foundation for Economic Education, gave a voice to the lowly writing utensil in order to illustrate the power of economic freedom. Read’s pencil explained how it was born of the decisions of thousands of individuals, operating freely in their own self-interest, and yet in harmony with one another. Almost all the actions described in the pencil’s creation are illegal, unprofitable or personally perilous in Venezuela today.

Consider what’s happened to transportation. Workers need to travel to their jobs, components must be delivered to factories and inventories to retail outlets, and tractors have to plow fields. Yet wheels are grinding to a halt in Venezuela.

The local manufacturer of car batteries in Caracas has trouble importing components, and government price controls have strained the profitability of the business. To replace a battery, customers line up at the factory—which to cut costs rarely uses retailers for distribution any more—in the wee hours of the morning. But it takes several days of waiting to complete the transaction, and the old battery must be surrendered. If it’s been stolen, which is not uncommon, customers need to present a special certificate from law enforcement.

A weeping woman was spied by a friend at the factory gate one morning recently. She had lost several days of work waiting in the line only to be told that the certificate she had to prove that her battery was stolen was no good.

More than vehicle batteries are in short supply. Roving bands of robbers strip farm equipment of parts, which carry a good price because they are so hard to get. That’s only one headache for the farmer.

Chávez confiscated the country’s most-productive farms and turned them over to chavistas who don’t know how to farm. Even on farms that were not seized, planting is diminished. Most seeds used in Venezuela are imported and without dollars cannot be had. Farmers are reluctant to plant when the costs are high and the harvests are price-controlled. Dairy farms are also less productive now that daily power outages shut down electricity-powered milking machines. Trucks carrying food cargo are often hijacked.

Protein is hard to come by. Eggs have all but disappeared from grocery stores. In October, seven tuna canneries employing 3,000 people had to close because they could not get dollars from the central bank to pay foreign suppliers who provide the materials for production like fish and cans. Basic medicines like aspirin have vanished.

“We cannot go on this way,” a source in Caracas told me last week. “The price of food is going up and up. Some salaries are adjusted [for inflation] but most are not. I don’t see how people without dollars can feed their families.”

Ironically the very rich, who Chávez swore to crush but who still have dollars, are not starving. But the poor and working classes face a grim future.
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Old 05-13-16, 02:36 AM   #106
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

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

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Old 05-16-16, 07:39 AM   #107
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

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


http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/16/wo...hospitals.html

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



May 15, 2016

BARCELONA, Venezuela — By morning, three newborns were already dead.

The day had begun with the usual hazards: chronic shortages of antibiotics, intravenous solutions, even food. Then a blackout swept over the city, shutting down the respirators in the maternity ward.

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

“The death of a baby is our daily bread,” said Dr. Osleidy Camejo, a surgeon in the nation’s capital, Caracas, referring to the toll from Venezuela’s collapsing hospitals.

The economic crisis in this country has exploded into a public health emergency, claiming the lives of untold numbers of Venezuelans. It is just part of a larger unraveling here that has become so severe it has prompted President Nicolás Maduro to impose a state of emergency and has raised fears of a government collapse.

Hospital wards have become crucibles where the forces tearing Venezuela apart have converged. Gloves and soap have vanished from some hospitals. Often, cancer medicines are found only on the black market. There is so little electricity that the government works only two days a week to save what energy is left.

At the University of the Andes Hospital in the mountain city of Mérida, there was not enough water to wash blood from the operating table. Doctors preparing for surgery cleaned their hands with bottles of seltzer water.

“It is like something from the 19th century,” said Dr. Christian Pino, a surgeon at the hospital.

The figures are devastating. The rate of death among babies under a month old increased more than a hundredfold in public hospitals run by the Health Ministry, to just over 2 percent in 2015 from 0.02 percent in 2012, according to a government report provided by lawmakers.

The rate of death among new mothers in those hospitals increased by almost five times in the same period, according to the report.

Here in the Caribbean port town of Barcelona, 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 because they broke long ago. And because there are no open beds, some patients lie on the floor in pools of their blood.

It is a battlefield clinic in a country where there is no war.

“Some come here healthy, and they leave dead,” Dr. Leandro Pérez said, standing in the emergency room of Luis Razetti Hospital, which serves the town.

This nation has the largest oil reserves in the world, yet the government saved little money for hard times when oil prices were high. Now that prices have collapsed — they are around a third what they were in 2014 — the consequences are casting a destructive shadow across the country. Lines for food, long a feature of life in Venezuela, now erupt into looting. The bolívar, the country’s currency, is nearly worthless.

The crisis is aggravated by a political feud between Venezuela’s leftists, who control the presidency, and their rivals in congress. The president’s opponents declared a humanitarian crisis in January, and this month passed a law that would allow Venezuela to accept international aid to prop up the health care system.

“This is criminal that we can sit in a country with this much oil, and people are dying for lack of antibiotics,” says Oneida Guaipe, a lawmaker and former hospital union leader.

But Mr. Maduro, who succeeded Hugo Chávez, went on television and rejected the effort, describing the move as a bid to undermine him and privatize the hospital system.

“I doubt that anywhere in the world, except in Cuba, there exists a better health system than this one,” Mr. Maduro said.

Late last fall, the aging pumps that supplied water to the University of the Andes Hospital exploded. They were not repaired for months.

So 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.

Even in the capital, only two of nine operating rooms are functioning at the J. M. de los Ríos Children’s Hospital.

“There are people dying for lack of medicine, children dying of malnutrition and others dying because there are no medical personnel,” said Dr. Yamila Battaglini, a surgeon at the hospital.

Yet even among Venezuela’s failing hospitals, Luis Razetti Hospital in Barcelona has become one of the most notorious.

In April, the authorities arrested its director, Aquiles Martínez, and removed him from his post. Local news reports said he was accused of stealing equipment meant for the hospital, including machines to treat people with respiratory illnesses, as well as intravenous solutions and 127 boxes of medicine.

Around 10 one recent night, Dr. Freddy Díaz walked down a hall there that had become an impromptu ward for patients who had no beds. Some clutched blood-soaked bandages and called from the floor for help. One, brought in by the police, was handcuffed to a gurney. In a supply room, cockroaches fled as the door swung open.

Dr. Díaz logged a patient’s medical data on the back of a bank statement someone had thrown in the trash.

We have run out of paper here,” he said.

On the fourth floor, one of his patients, Rosa Parucho, 68, was one of the few who had managed to get a bed, though the rotting mattress had left her back covered in sores.

But those were the least of her problems: Ms. Parucho, a diabetic, was unable to receive kidney dialysis because the machines were broken. An infection had spread to her feet, which were black that night. She was going into septic shock.

Ms. Parucho needed oxygen, but none was available. Her hands twitched and her eyes rolled into the back of her head.

“The bacteria aren’t dying; they’re growing,” Dr. Díaz said, noting that three of the antibiotics Ms. Parucho needed had been unavailable for months.

He paused. “We will have to remove her feet.”

Three relatives sat reading the Old Testament before an unconscious woman. She had arrived six days before, but because a scanning machine had broken, it was days before anyone discovered the tumor occupying a quarter of her frontal lobe.

Samuel Castillo, 21, arrived in the emergency room needing blood. But supplies had run out. A holiday had been declared by the government to save electricity, and the blood bank took donations only on workdays. Mr. Castillo died that night.

For the past two and a half months, the hospital has not had a way to print X-rays. So patients must use a smartphone to take a picture of their scans and take them to the proper doctor.

“It looks like tuberculosis,” said an emergency room doctor looking at the scan of a lung on a cellphone. “But I can’t tell. The quality is bad.”

Finding medicine is perhaps the hardest challenge.

The pharmacy here has bare shelves because of a shortage of imports, which the government can no longer afford. When patients need treatment, the doctors hand relatives a list of medicines, solutions and other items needed to stabilize the patients or to perform surgery. Loved ones are then sent back the way they came to find black-market sellers who have the goods.

The same applies to just about everything else one might need here.

“You must bring her diapers now,” a nurse told Alejandro Ruiz, whose mother had been taken to the emergency room.

“What else?” he asked, clutching large trash bags he had brought filled with blankets, sheets, pillows and toilet paper.

Nicolás Espinosa sat next to his tiny daughter, who has spent two of her five years with cancer. He was running out of money to pay for her intravenous solutions. Inflation had increased the price by 16 times what he paid a year ago.

He flipped through a list of medicines he was trying to find here in Barcelona and in a neighboring city. Some of the drugs are meant to protect the body during chemotherapy, yet the girl’s treatments ended when the oncology department ran out of the necessary drugs a month and a half ago.

Near him, a handwritten sign read, “We sell antibiotics — negotiable.” A black-market seller’s number was listed.

Biceña Pérez, 36, scanned the halls looking for anyone who would listen to her.

“Can someone help my father?” she asked.

Her father, José Calvo, 61, had contracted Chagas’ disease, a sickness caused by a parasite. But the medication Mr. Calvo had been prescribed ran out in his part of Venezuela that year, and he began to suffer heart failure.

Six hours after Ms. Pérez’s plea, a scream was heard in the emergency room. It was Mr. Calvo’s sister: “My darling, my darling,” she moaned. Mr. Calvo was dead.

His daughter paced the hall alone, not knowing what to do. Her hands covered her face, and then clenched into fists.

“Why did the director of this hospital steal that equipment?” was all she could say. “Tell me whose fault is this?”

The ninth floor of the hospital is the maternity ward, where the seven babies had died the day before. A room at the end of the hall was filled with broken incubators.

The glass on one was smashed. Red, yellow and blue wires dangled from another.

“Don’t use — nonfunctional,” said a sign dated last November.

Dr. Amalia Rodríguez stood in the hallway.

“I had a patient just now who needed artificial respiration, and I had none available,” Dr. Rodríguez said. “A baby. What can we do?”

The day of the power blackout, Dr. Rodríguez said, the hospital staff tried turning on the generator, but it did not work.

Doctors tried everything they could to keep the babies breathing, pumping air by hand until the employees were so exhausted they could barely see straight, she said. How many babies died because of the blackout was impossible to say, given all of the other deficiencies at the hospital.

“What can we do here?” Dr. Rodríguez said. “Every day I pass an incubator that doesn’t heat up, that is cold, that is broken.”

Last edited by grundle; 08-17-17 at 02:23 AM.
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Old 05-19-16, 01:57 PM   #108
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

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. I disagree with the government.


http://www.theatlantic.com/internati...-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.

The entrepreneur is one of the real people behind those zany “there’s no toilet paper in Venezuela” stories that play up the crisis for laughs, and clicks. But to Venezuelans like the present writers, and the entrepreneur, there’s nothing funny about the dark turn our country has taken. The experiment with “21st-century socialism” as introduced by the late President Hugo Chavez, a self-described champion of the poor who vowed to distribute the country’s wealth among the masses, and instead steered the nation toward the catastrophe the world is witnessing under his handpicked successor Maduro, has been a cruel failure.

Anatomy of a Collapse

Developing countries, like teenagers, are prone to accidents. One pretty much expects them to suffer an economic crash, a political crisis, or both, with some regularity. The news coming from Venezuela—including shortages as well as, most recently, riots over blackouts; the imposition of a two-day workweek for government employees, supposedly aimed at saving electricity; and an accelerating drive to recall the president—is dire, but also easy to dismiss as representing just one more of these recurrent episodes.

That would be a mistake. What our country is going through is monstrously unique: It’s nothing less than the collapse of a large, wealthy, seemingly modern, seemingly democratic nation just a few hours’ flight from the United States.

In the last two years Venezuela has experienced the kind of implosion that hardly ever occurs in a middle-income country like it outside of war. Mortality rates are skyrocketing; one public service after another is collapsing; triple-digit inflation has left more than 70 percent of the population in poverty; an unmanageable crime wave keeps people locked indoors at night; shoppers have to stand in line for hours to buy food; babies die in large numbers for lack of simple, inexpensive medicines and equipment in hospitals, as do the elderly and those suffering from chronic illnesses.

But why? It’s not that the country lacked money. Sitting atop the world’s largest reserves of oil at the tail end of a frenzied oil boom, the government led first by Chavez and, since 2013, by Maduro, received over a trillion dollars in oil revenues over the last 17 years. It faced virtually no institutional constraints on how to spend that unprecedented bonanza. It’s true that oil prices have since fallen—a risk many people foresaw, and one that the government made no provision for—but that can hardly explain what’s happened: Venezuela’s garish implosion began well before the price of oil plummeted. Back in 2014, when oil was still trading north of $100 per barrel, Venezuelans were already facing acute shortages of basic things like bread or toiletries.

The real culprit is chavismo, the ruling philosophy named for Chavez and carried forward by Maduro, and its truly breathtaking propensity for mismanagement (the government plowed state money arbitrarily into foolish investments); institutional destruction (as Chavez and then Maduro became more authoritarian and crippled the country’s democratic institutions); nonsense policy-making (like price and currency controls); and plain thievery (as corruption has proliferated among unaccountable officials and their friends and families).

A case in point is the price controls, which have expanded to apply to more and more goods: food and vital medicines, yes, but also car batteries, essential medical services, deodorant, diapers, and, of course, toilet paper. The ostensible goal was to check inflation and keep goods affordable for the poor, but anyone with a basic grasp of economics could have foreseen the consequences: When prices are set below production costs, sellers can’t afford to keep the shelves stocked. Official prices are low, but it’s a mirage: The products have disappeared.

When a state is in the process of collapse, dimensions of decay feed back on each other in an intractable cycle. Populist giveaways, for example, have fed the country’s ruinous flirtation with hyperinflation; the International Monetary Fund now projects that prices will rise by 720 percent this year and 2,200 percent in 2017. The government virtually gives away gasoline for free, even after having raised the price earlier this year. As a result of this and similar policies, the state is chronically short of funds, forced to print ever more money to finance its spending. Consumers, flush with cash and chasing a dwindling supply of goods, are caught in an inflationary spiral.

There are many theories about the deeper forces that have destroyed Venezuela’s economy, torn apart its society and devastated its institutions, but their result is ultimately a human tragedy representing one of the most severe humanitarian crises facing the Western hemisphere. Here we offer, through a few vignettes, a glimpse of what it’s like for some of the individuals who are living the collapse and seeing no one held accountable.

Who Killed Maikel Mancilla Peña?

Finding the basic requirements of daily life has become the main preoccupation of Venezuelan families—and it can be a matter of life and death. At 14 years old, Maikel Mancilla Peña had been battling epilepsy for six years. His condition was under control, just about, thanks to a common anti-convulsive prescription drug called Lamotrigine. It had long been a struggle for his family to get it, but as the gap between the real cost of the drugs and the maximum pharmacies were allowed to charge for them grew, it became impossible to find them.

On February 11th this year, Maikel’s mom Yamaris gave him the last Lamotrigine tablet in their stash. None of Yamaris’s usual pharmacies had any anti-convulsants in stock. She worked social media— which in Venezuela these days is filled with desperate people trying to source scarce medicines—but no luck. She drove hours to track down a lead, but came up empty-handed.

In the following days, Maikel experienced a series of increasingly violent epileptic seizures, as his family watched helplessly. On February 20th, he suffered respiratory failure and died.


Maikel’s case is not unique. The collapse of the health-care system and the scarcity of medicine is costing lives every day. Psychiatric patients struggling with schizophrenia have to go without anti-psychotic meds. Tens of thousands of HIV-positive people struggle to find the anti-retrovirals they need, forcing them into the kind of stop-and-go treatment patterns that doctors warn risk bringing on AIDS. Cancer patients can’t find chemotherapy drugs. Even malaria—which had essentially disappeared from Venezuela a generation ago and is easily treatable with inexpensive medicines—is making a deadly comeback.

The Racer

While Venezuelans were dying for lack of simple, inexpensive pills, their radical socialist government was spending tens of millions a year to keep a native son, Pastor Maldonado, competing in the Formula 1 global auto-racing circuit. You could be forgiven for not having heard of Maldonado—a mediocre driver who managed to win a single race in five years in the sport. Still, Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA, spent some $45 million each year to keep Maldonado racing under its logo. Why an oil company without a retail arm and with monopoly rights to Venezuelan oil needs to advertise in the first place was never clear.

Yet Maldonado, whose habit of crashing in race after race earned him the nickname “Crashtor,” was only forced out of the F1 circuit this year, when PDVSA, hit by the oil crash, failed to come up with the sponsorship money.

Venezuelan oil largesse has been scattered around the globe, from the $18 million handed to the American actor Danny Glover in 2007 to produce an ideologically appropriate film (still to be delivered), to the millions of Venezuelan dollars spent financing leftist parties and movements from El Salvador to Argentina to Spain and beyond.

Stealing Lunch

Meanwhile, the Venezuelan government can no longer afford to provide even rudimentary law and order, making Caracas, the capital, by some calculations one of the most murderous cities in the world. Drug traffickers run large sections of the countryside. Prison gang leaders keep military-style weapons on hand, and while grenade attacks still make the news, they are nothing new. Recently, the police captured an AT4 antitank rocket launcher—basically, a bazooka—from a suspect.

The breakdown of law and order is so severe that even children are being robbed. At Nuestra Señora del Carmen school in El Cortijo, a struggling neighborhood of Caracas, supplies for the school-lunch program have been stolen twice this year already: Thugs have broken into the school’s pantry late at night after fresh food is delivered. The second burglary meant the school couldn’t feed the kids for at least a week.

Elsewhere, school food programs have simply stopped working, because the government apparently can’t keep them supplied. 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. The regime has long put education at the center of its propaganda, yet the reality today is that a generation of underprivileged kids is being denied an education through straightforward hunger.

Still, some politicians seem to have found the bright side of their citizens’ hunger: The opposition-controlled National Assembly alleges that government officials or their cronies stole some $200 billion in food-import scams alone since 2003.

The Crime Outbreak Feeds the Zika Outbreak

In the midst of all this, Venezuela is facing one of the worst Zika outbreaks in South America, and it’s an epidemic the country can hardly measure, much less respond to. The Universidad Central de Venezuela’s Institute for Tropical Medicine is where the crime and public-health crises collide. The institute—ground zero in the country’s response to tropical epidemics—was burglarized a shocking 11 times in the first two months of 2016. The last two break-ins took place within 48 hours of one another, leaving the lab without a single microscope. Burglars rampaged through the lab, scattering samples of highly dangerous viruses and toxic fungal spores into the air.

Conditions like those make it virtually impossible for institute researchers to do their work, crippling the country’s response to the Zika outbreak. And attempts to repair the damage are undercut by the same dysfunctions that afflict the rest of the economy: There’s just no money to replace the expensive imported equipment criminals have stolen.

Other aspects of state collapse feed back on the Zika crisis as well. Venezuelan cities’ water infrastructure is crumbling after nearly two decades of neglect. That would be hard at the best of times, but this year’s El Niño has brought an acute drought to most of the country. Water utilities have responded to falling reservoir levels with harsh rationing measures.

Neighborhoods and shantytowns can go for days and even weeks with no piped water. Most people adapt by filling several buckets when service is provided, in preparation for the dry periods. Of course, storing water in buckets is precisely what you shouldn’t do when facing a mosquito-borne epidemic: The containers double as breeding grounds for the bugs that transmit the Zika virus, as well as others like Chikungunya, dengue, even malaria.

No Power, No Justice

The same drought that’s forcing water rationing has seen water levels at the country’s electricity-generating dams fall alarmingly. Blackouts used to at least spare the capital, but these days they’re nationwide, as the public utilities struggle to keep enough water in the reservoirs to prevent a complete collapse in the power grid.

It didn’t have to be this way. Since 2009, hundreds of millions of dollars have been devoted to building new diesel and natural gas-burning power plants. The new plants were meant specifically to relieve pressure from the aging hydroelectric network. Much of the capacity never came online, though, and the money was never accounted for. Two people have been indicted over this in the U.S., but nobody in Venezuela appears to be investigating.

This is emblematic of the kind of impunity that reigns now at every level of the state, from the gravest crimes to the highest government offices. On March 4th 28 miners disappeared in the jungle near Brazil, and eyewitnesses alleged a massacre. At this writing, only four people have been arrested in connection to the event. They weren’t the culprits, though: They were family members of victims who dared to call for justice. Late last year, two of the powerful first lady’s nephews—including one who grew up in the presidential household—were arrested by DEA agents in a sting operation, in which they were allegedly recorded offering to provide a large amount of cocaine to agents posing as traffickers. The first lady’s reaction was to accuse the DEA of kidnapping her nephews.

Following Venezuela closely means hearing any number of stories like these. The happy, hopeful stage of Venezuela’s experiment with Chavez’s 21st-century socialism is a fading memory. What’s been left is a visibly failing state that still leans hard on left-wing rhetoric in a doomed bid to maintain some shred of legitimacy. A country that used to attract fellow travelers and admirers in serious numbers now holds fascination for rubberneckers: stunned outsiders enthralled by the spectacle of collapse.

To the Venezuelans who live its consequences day after day, the spectacle is considerably less amusing. Our toilet-paper-seeking industrialist found very little mirth in it. After being arrested on absurd charges of hoarding, he realized that it was just a shakedown: The cops were far less interested in his toilet paper than his money.

“Their opening bid was in the high hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said. “I thought that was a bit much; we bargained.”

In the end, he said, the cops agreed to drop the criminal charges for a few tens of thousands of dollars.

That time, the regime’s appetite for theft trumped its instinct for repression. Next time, who can tell?
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Old 05-19-16, 02:28 PM   #109
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

If only Obama had gone to Venezuela and danced 30-seconds with a local woman this all could have been avoided.
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Old 05-19-16, 02:37 PM   #110
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

sucks for the people but that hack was voted in by the people. this is far too common in south america
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Old 05-19-16, 02:42 PM   #111
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

Wait, grundle agrees with a union?!

Are you okay grundle? Did you have a stroke?
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Old 05-19-16, 05:38 PM   #112
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

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Originally Posted by raven56706 View Post
sucks for the people but that hack was voted in by the people. this is far too common in south america
I don't feel one bit sorry for anyone who voted for Chavez and/or Maduro. Elections have consequences.

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Wait, grundle agrees with a union?!

Are you okay grundle? Did you have a stroke?
I always agree with unions when they take the correct side of an issue.
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Old 05-19-16, 05:45 PM   #113
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

Great article from the Washington Post. None of the other countries that depend on oil for a large part of their economy are suffering from the food shortages that exist in Venezuela. This is a man made disaster. A disaster that Hugo Chavez called "21st century socialism."


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...-up-this-poor/

There has never been a country that should have been so rich but ended up this poor

May 19, 2016

Venezuela has become a failed state.

According to the International Monetary Fund's latest projections, it has the world's worst economic growth, worst inflation and ninth-worst unemployment rate right now. It also has the second-worst murder rate, and an infant mortality rate that's gotten 100 times worse itself the past four years. And in case all that wasn't bad enough, its currency, going by black market rates, has lost 99 percent of its value since the start of 2012. It's what you call a complete social and economic collapse. And it has happened despite the fact that Venezuela has the world's largest oil reserves.

Never has a country that should have been so rich been so poor.


There's no mystery here. Venezuela's government is to blame. Sure, $50-a-barrel oil hasn't helped, but it hasn't hurt so much that a "Mad Max"-style dystopia was inevitable. After all, every other country whose economy begins and ends at its oil wells has at least managed to avoid that fate. Which is to say that Venezuela is a man-made disaster. It's a gangster state that doesn't know how to do anything other than sell drugs and steal money for itself. Indeed, two of President Nicolás Maduro's nephews were arrested on charges of conspiring to bring 800 kilos of cocaine into the United States, the president's right-hand man is suspected of running a drug ring himself, and public money has a habit of disappearing into what could only be private pockets. Two ex-officials estimate that as much as $300 billion has been misappropriated the past decade. It's enough that Transparency International ranks Venezuela as the ninth-most corrupt country in the world. The only ones worse — Somalia, North Korea, Afghanistan, Sudan, South Sudan, Angola, Libya and Iraq — are a collection of rogue and war-torn nations.

Venezuela is the answer to what would happen if an economically illiterate drug cartel took over a country.

This corruption hasn't just enriched the few. It has also impoverished the many. That's because the government has tried to control the economy to the point of killing it — all, of course, in the name of "socialism." Now let's back up a minute. It really shouldn't have been hard for Venezuela's government to spend some petrodollars on the poor without destroying its economy. All it had to do was send people a check for their share of the country's oil money. Even Alaska does that. And, to be fair, Venezuela was able to do so as well, as long as oil prices were in the triple digits. That's how its government cut poverty almost 30 percent its first 12 years in power.

You can't keep redistributing oil profits, though, if there aren't any more oil profits to redistribute. Or at least not that many of them — which there aren't now. The first reason for that is that former president Hugo Chávez replaced people who knew what they were doing with people he knew would be loyal to him at the state-owned oil company. The regime's cronies were happy to take money out of the company, but not so much about putting what they needed back in so that they'd continue to be able to turn their extra-heavy crude into refined oil. As a result, production fell 25 percent between 1999 and 2013. And the second reason has just been that oil prices have fallen in half the past two years. Add those two together — selling less oil for less than before — and you have an economic death sentence for a country that doesn't have an economy so much as an oil-exporting business that subsidizes everything else.

But Venezuela has gotten something worse than death. It has gotten hell. Its stores are empty, its hospitals don't have essential medicines, and it can't afford to keep the lights on. All the progress it had made fighting poverty has been reversed, and then some. The police are going after protesters, and vigilantes are going after petty criminals by, for example, burning a 42-year-old father alive for stealing $5. How has it come to this? Well, the underlying cause is that the government hasn't been content to just control the oil business. It wants to control every business. It tells them how much to charge, who's allowed to charge it, and even who's allowed to line up for it. Because that's the one thing Venezuela is well-supplied with now: hours and hours of lines.

Here's how it works — or doesn't, rather. Venezuela's government, you see, has tried to stop the runaway inflation that's resulted from all its money-printing by forcing companies to sell for lower prices than they want. The problem there, though, is that businesses won't sell things for less than they cost. They'll just leave their shelves unstocked instead. So to make up for that, the government has subsidized a select few by selling them dollars at well, well below market rates. Consider this: The Venezuelan bolivar is trading for 1,075 per dollar on the black market right now, but 6.3 per dollar at the government's most preferential rate. (It has two others.)

That's like paying $1 to get $170. Now, the idea is that giving companies money like this will let them make money — giving them a reason to fill their stores — even when they sell at the prices they're supposed to. But that's not how it has always worked out. Think about it like this. You could either use the $169 the government has given you to buy, say, milk for $3 overseas that you're only allowed to sell for $2 at home, or you could just sell it for $169 in the black market right away. In the first case, you'd make about $112; in the second, well, $169. So it's not profitable for unsubsidized companies to stock their shelves, but it's not profitable enough for subsidized ones to do so when they can just sell their dollars for more than they can resell imports. That's why Venezuela has had shortages of basic goods — everything from food to beer to toilet paper and especially medical supplies — even before oil prices fell so far.

Why doesn't the government just get rid of this exchange-rate system then? Because as difficult as it is to get someone to understand something when their salary depends on them not understanding it, it's even more so when their embezzling depends on it. In other words, having the power to decide who gets dollars and who doesn't means that you have them yourself, and can skim a little — or $300 billion — off the top if you're so inclined. And the Chavistas have been. It's true that this isn't exactly smart politics or economics in the long run, but in the long run they'll have moved their money into Swiss bank accounts and Miami condos. In the meantime, though, there's a country to loot.

Viva la revolución.
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Old 05-19-16, 10:01 PM   #114
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

I have figured out the difference between a Marxist and an ex-Marxist.

A Marxist is only interested in intent, whereas an ex-Marxist is interested in actual results.
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Old 05-22-16, 06:29 PM   #115
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grundle View Post
http://www.theatlantic.com/internati...-apart/481755/

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.

I didn't comment on this part when I posted it before, although I did bold it.

In the real world, there is a tradeoff between time and money. But Chavez and 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.
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Old 05-22-16, 06:45 PM   #116
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

A couple more absurdities.

First is an article about a neighborhood in Venezuela where the local grocery store has not had any chicken for over a month. Given that chickens are self replicating, it must have taken a lot of effort to create a shortage of them.

In the second article, despite having a tropical climate that is ideal for growing sugar, Coca Cola said it will stop making Coke in Venezuela because there is not enough sugar:


http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...rotests-maduro

'We are like a bomb': food riots show Venezuela crisis has gone beyond politics

Three years of shortages have left Venezuelans desperate and angry for change, posing the most serious threat yet to President Nicolás Maduro

May 20, 2016

The rumour was there would be chicken.

Word had spread that a delivery of poultry meat was due at the Central Madeirense supermarket, and long before dawn a queue of shoppers was snaking around the block.

Kattya Alonzo was one of them. The 48-year-old mother of three was already planning to make the traditional chicken and rice dish arroz con pollo – if she could also find some rice.

“I haven’t been able to buy chicken in more than a month, so I was there early at about 4am,” she said.

At about 6.30, two trucks finally drew up outside the store, but before the drivers could start to unload, national guardsmen told them to drive on.


Venezuela is rich in oil, but dogged by chronic shortages of basic goods and essential medicines, electricity and water rationing, spiraling inflation and rampant crime.

Perhaps it was not surprising that the mood outside the supermarket quickly turned ugly: frustration turned to despair, anger to violence. Before long, the incident on Tuesday had escalated.

Mobs tried to loot several bakeries and delis and another food delivery truck.

The unrest soon spread throughout this city of 200,000 just outside the capital, Caracas. Protesters shouted “We want food” as they blocked intersections with burning tyres and clashed with security forces.

Police and the national guard quickly controlled the outburst, with some 14 people reportedly arrested, and at least one person was injured, according to witnesses.

The protests were not related to marches in Caracas and other major cities, which were called this week by opposition leaders seeking to cut short the term of President Nicolás Maduro who they say has driven the country into the ground through mismanagement.

But spontaneous outbursts such as the one in Guarenas may present a more serious challenge to Maduro’s rule than any efforts by his political rivals.

The opposition won control of parliament in December elections, but Maduro has blocked all attempts at reforms passed in the legislature though the government-controlled supreme court.

Maduro blames the country’s woes on an “economic war” against his government by rightwingers and foreign interests. Last week Maduro decreed a 60-day state of emergency because of the “threat” against his government.

Maduro has described the referendum push as an attempt to justify a coup d’état or a foreign intervention, and on Friday the Venezuelan armed forces began two days of military exercises as show of force in the face of such threats.

But as the events in Guarenas show, the country is on a knife-edge.

Venezuelans have been living with shortages of food and essential items for nearly three years as the oil-dependent economy began to buckle. And patience is wearing thin.

The Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict registered 2,138 protests between January and April, most of them spontaneous manifestations of anger or frustration. Incidents of looting have nearly quadrupled in the same time.

“We are like a bomb going tick-tock, tick-tock,” said Zenovia Villegas, a 54-year-old housewife who waited in line at a Guarenas supermarket since the early hours of Thursday only to be told at 3pm that the store would not be opening its doors that day. Dejected, she went home empty-handed.

Authorities have reason to be nervous of unstructured shows of dissent, particularly in protest-prone Guarenas.

It was in here that protests in 1989 against neoliberal reforms and a hike in bus fares sparked a wave of looting and violence that came to be known as the “Caracazo” in which as many as 3,000 people died.

Those events are said to be what motivated an attempted coup in 1992 by an army lieutenant-colonel named Hugo Chávez who would later become president and set the country on a “revolutionary” path under the banner of 21st-century socialism.

At the entrance to Guarenas a sign boasts that the city was the “birthplace of the revolution”.

The charismatic and wily Chávez, who led the country from 1998 till his death in 2013, enjoyed unprecedented support for his oil-funded social programs that brought health services, education and housing to poor Venezuelans.

Maduro, his successor, has not managed to win the same levels of popular support and as oil prices dropped the country’s economy has gone into a tailspin.

An opposition coalition, known as MUD, is trying to force a recall referendum on Maduro, which would cut his six-year presidential term in half. They have collected the first batch of signatures to begin the process but accuse electoral authorities of stalling in processing them.

But for people on the street that’s just politics.

“We don’t care who’s in Miraflores,” said Marlene Pineda who runs a newsstand in Caracas, referring to the presidential palace. “What we want is food,” she says reflecting the sentiment of many Venezuelans far removed from politics who are struggling to get by day to day.

“Food is what moves people,” says Carlos Perdomo, who sells unrefined sugarloaves known as papelón in an area called Samán where protesters congregated on Tuesday.

But so does the feeling of impotence. A rash of mob justice has gripped Venezuela as violent crime soars with little response from security forces.

In the Mesuca neighbourhood of Caracas – considered the most dangerous area of the world’s most murderous city – motorcycle taxi drivers swap horror stories as they nervously wait for fares.

Accepting the wrong fare may cost any one of them their motorbike or their life.

“When a passenger comes the first thing we do is look at their waist” for any sign of a gun, said Carlos Paredes. “For us, going to work is like a lottery.”

Impunity is so widespread that lynchings have now become common.

Several months ago a thief stole a motorcycle at gunpoint in one of the steep winding streets of the neighbourhood. A group of motorcyclists chased down the thief, beat him, doused him with gasoline and set him on fire.

John Díaz, 25 said he didn’t participate in the mob but saw the man’s charred remains on the street.

“People are fed up. With everything,” he said.

The lynching and looting are manifestations of anger and impotence that clinical psychologist Liliana Castiglione is seeing in her practice where 80% her patients’ problems are related to the country’s economic and social crisis.

“People are desperate, they are depressed and they’re angry,” said Castiglione, who launched a blog called Psicólogas al Rescate (Psychologists to the Rescue) where she and partner Stefania Aguzzi offer low-cost or sometimes free consultations for Venezuelans struggling to cope.

“One woman this week told me straight out that she wanted to kill people,” said Castiglione. “Like many Venezuelans she feels trapped.”

One way to channel that frustration is by standing up and expressing through protests, Castiglione said, but security forces are quick to stifle them.

At the time of the Caracazo, police and soldiers at first stood by when the looting and protests started. Today security forces are under orders to quell any sign of protest immediately.

Several days after the unrest in Guarenas, the city remained tense. Groups of national guardsmen in riot gear watched over a busy informal street market to prevent any further turbulence.

“If you complain too loudly, they arrest you,” says María David, a 71-year-old retired nurse. “As soon as people protest, the military is there.”

“That’s the reason things haven’t blown over, yet,” she says. “Fear.”

.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016...-in-venezuela/

Sugar shortage forces Coca-Cola to stop production in Venezuela

May 21, 2016

Coca-Cola has announced that it is halting production in Venezuela, as the teetering tropical country cannot provide enough sugar for manufacture.

The move comes as Venezuela's economy is on the edge of collapse with widespread food shortages, looting and riots, and inflation forecast to surpass 700 per cent.

And the world’s largest bottler of Coca-Cola, Mexico-based Coca-Cola FEMSA, announced on Friday that it was halting production of its most famous drink.

Fruit juices and water will continue to be produced by the firm’s 7,300 employees, in four bottling plants and 33 distribution centres. Imported Coca-Cola will still be available, but perhaps at a price inaccessible to ordinary Venezuelans. Latin America is the world’s largest market for Coca-Cola, with 29 per cent of the company’s 1.9 billion cans a day consumed in the region.

But the announcement marks another serious blow to Venezuela’s crippled food sector.

President Nicolas Maduro, struggling to keep the country afloat, has blamed the crisis on low water levels in Venezuela’s biggest hydroelectric dam, which have caused widespread power cuts, killing babies inside devastated hospitals.

He also blames the implosion of the country with the world’s largest oil reserves on “economic war” waged by the US. A 60-day state of emergency was declared last week, amid growing opposition protests, and on Friday Mr Maduro announced the country’s biggest ever military manoeuvers, apparently designed to put on a show to the US and deter “foreign invaders.”

Meanwhile, queues for food and basic household items like toilet paper last for many hours, and violence from mobs across the country grows.

Last month beer production was stopped by Polar, Venezuela’s largest food and beverage company - and biggest private company overall - because of a lack of barley.

Coca-Cola operates with a worldwide chain of bottling plants which buy concentrates, beverage bases and syrups from the US-based headquarters, and are then responsible for the local manufacture, packaging, merchandising and distribution.

Kerry Tressler, spokesman for Coca-Cola, told The Telegraph that local sugar suppliers in Venezuela informed the company that they will temporarily cease operations due to a lack of raw materials.

“While this situation will impact the production of sugar-sweetened beverages in the coming days, the production lines for zero-sugar beverages such as bottled water and Coca-Cola Light are not impacted and continue operating normally,” she said, adding that the local offices and distribution centres remain open.

“We are engaging with suppliers, government authorities and our associates to take the necessary actions for a prompt solution.”
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Old 05-22-16, 07:38 PM   #117
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

Venezuela was becoming a very popular place to retire for Americans, and I even thought about it over the last few years. It was cheap, food was great and local depending on where you lived, but now, it doesn't look like Venezuela is going to be favorable to Americans...or humans in general in the near future. It's really too bad, because the country is beautiful.
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Old 05-22-16, 11:36 PM   #118
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

PJ O'Rourke wrote a great book years ago called "Eat the Rich". In the book he talks about Tanzania, a country where you could literally pick diamonds up off the ground, a country of unbelievable natural beauty that tourists should be flocking to, a country with vast reserves of natural gas, a country with some of the most fertile arable land in the world and a perfect climate for growing most anything, a country that has been the recipient of billions and billions of dollars in international aid for decades ... etc. And yet Tanzania was a remains among the poorest countries in the world. O'Rourke's conclusion: being governed by lunatics with terrible ideas can overcome any advantage.

Venezuela reminds me of Tanzania. Good government is all that matters.
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Old 05-23-16, 09:30 PM   #119
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
PJ O'Rourke wrote a great book years ago called "Eat the Rich". In the book he talks about Tanzania, a country where you could literally pick diamonds up off the ground, a country of unbelievable natural beauty that tourists should be flocking to, a country with vast reserves of natural gas, a country with some of the most fertile arable land in the world and a perfect climate for growing most anything, a country that has been the recipient of billions and billions of dollars in international aid for decades ... etc. And yet Tanzania was a remains among the poorest countries in the world. O'Rourke's conclusion: being governed by lunatics with terrible ideas can overcome any advantage.

Venezuela reminds me of Tanzania. Good government is all that matters.


I own that book.

Meanwhile, Singapore, a country with no natural resources, has one of the highest standards of living in the world. Good government is indeed all that matters. And Singapore's government makes it very easy to own and operate a private business.

Venezuela has huge oil reserves, but it also has a shortage of gasoline. Singapore has no oil reserves, but gasoline is readily available.
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Old 05-23-16, 11:13 PM   #120
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

https://panampost.com/valerie-marsma...-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.
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Old 05-23-16, 11:32 PM   #121
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
PJ O'Rourke wrote a great book years ago called "Eat the Rich". In the book he talks about Tanzania, a country where you could literally pick diamonds up off the ground, a country of unbelievable natural beauty that tourists should be flocking to, a country with vast reserves of natural gas, a country with some of the most fertile arable land in the world and a perfect climate for growing most anything, a country that has been the recipient of billions and billions of dollars in international aid for decades ... etc. And yet Tanzania was a remains among the poorest countries in the world. O'Rourke's conclusion: being governed by lunatics with terrible ideas can overcome any advantage.

Venezuela reminds me of Tanzania. Good government is all that matters.
Just imagine if a good government, modern, decided to take that area and the surrounding areas in Africa--one of the most beautiful countries in the world--and develop it, creating jobs for the local communities and educating them.

Imagine that. And here is the US, simply being the fat ass that it is. Sometimes the US is rather embarrassing.
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Old 05-28-16, 05:24 PM   #122
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

Empty shelves at a Venezuelan supermarket:

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Old 05-28-16, 06:10 PM   #123
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

Wow.

I hope people migrate to Mexico.
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Old 05-31-16, 12:10 AM   #124
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

This is Bernie Sanders in 1985:

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Old 05-31-16, 09:47 AM   #125
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re: The Venezuela / Socialism Thread

Loved to see certain Repub brainiacs breathlessly posting on Twitter: "Look at Venezuela! Sanders! Obama! Killary!" as if socialistic policies in the largest economy in the world would ever look like Venezuela.
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