Friday, October 05, 2007

Simple economic questions

Why are there empty shelves in Venezuelan supermarkets?

Tonight I went to do my grocery shopping for the week. I will have to go again because many items were missing. And, by the way, I have started going on Friday nights as Saturday's mornings crowds tend to clean up the stores by noon.

There was no milk, under any guise, powder, skim, whole, fresh, UHT. No milk except for some infant formulas for problem babies.

There were no beans. Nor margarine to season them.

Sugar, white since last year, brown since two months, is gone. You can find some fructose if you are willing to pay the price. The choice for cookies was down to 1 third the usual choice, and pasta was down to about 20% of brands and varieties we were used to find. This seems to become permanent, just like sugar.

The Colombian yogurt I am used to is gone, courtesy of 2 weeks of border blockade. Blockade by Venezuelans who do not want to pay tolls in Colombia when they travel there. Their argument? "Colombians do not pay tolls in Venezuela". With such level of political discourse you do understand why Venezuela social fabric is decomposing so fast.

There is no napkins nor toilet paper. Then again, the way things are going eventually we will not need toilet paper anymore....

While I was waiting at the cashier the lights went out. Central Madeirense has its own generators so within 15 seconds the lights were on again and we could keep waiting for your turn. But it was a long walk with my bags to the car through the dark hallways of the small shopping center and the even darker parking lot. No emergency lights anywhere. I know, I am unable to find light bulbs to replace the burnt up bulbs for the night security beams at work. Incidentally this is the third, THIRD, power outage this week in San Felipe. Each power outage lasted more than half an hour, one almost 1 and a half hour. On now they are city wide.

On occasion I read some comments somewhere, some silly articles elsewhere, that Venezuelan increasing scarcity is a reflection of the increased purchasing power of the people. If we are to buy that silliest of arguments, then Cuba with its empty shelves and electric rationing has gotta be one of the richest countries in the world while Switzerland with overflowing shelves and all electric all the time has got to be a living hell for a population held hostage in poverty.

Another simple question: How far will human stupidity and bad faith go?

PS: courtesy form a reader in the comment section. Things can get worse, look at those pics from Zimbabwe grocery store shelves. By the way, "This is Zimbabwe" has been one blog I have linked from the very start. If you visit its comment section you will find the daring of some Mugabe defenders, and boy, do they have little to defend these days....

-The end-

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