Friday, February 07, 2014

Public service announcement: get ready to starve in Venezuela

This is a public service announcement for readers living in Venezuela: you may be running out of food within a month. I know that because I have heard through my clients and business partners that the regime has been holding reunions frantically to try to negotiate, at least with the food sectors, a minimum package so some basic stuff is produced while the regime comes up with some new cockamamie plan. The common feeling from those I spoke to is that the regime has little idea of what to do. The regime spokescreeps, in a wonderful case of military self sufficiency, went as far as suggesting casually that we should negotiate (blackmail?) with our providers to accept a cut in our debt... and have them keep sending us stuff anyway (sigh!)

The news this morning are not good. We start with the business organization, FEDECAMARAS, telling us that the situation is not a matter of laughing.  This because the new head of the SUNDDE is a certain Andreina Tarazon, a militant hacks of the PSUV that came to there to fame in 2007 during a certain arranged "debate" at the Nazional Assembly. In short, this woman has absolutely no experience in what it is to determine what production and sale prices should be for business. I mean, she has never held a job in her life except those political ones such as proposing that all women should breast feed for months and months, as if it were possible in Caracas to hold a job and go home twice a day to breast feed... As far as I know she is not a mother. (1)

It is to be noted that Tarazon said the following in an interview:
"They make us laugh and they deserve mockery, one should not even pay attention; it is like a thief, a rapist, a conman asking the annulment of the Penal Code, those are awful crimes that affect the stability of the country"
This came because FEDECAMARAS decided to exert its right to demand a revision of the constitutional character of the the law decree that created SUNDDE. Thus, the words of Tarazona, in her supine ignorance, must be interpreted that she is in that job to shut down the private sector.  I must make a note here: the regime is trapped in a judicial contradiction. On one side there is a pervasive system of price controls with some prices blocked now for a year or more in spite of an acknowledged official inflation reaching 60%.  On the other the new SUNDDE law claims that costs of EVERYTHING will be reviewed and people will be allowed to earn as much as 30% (the final rate to be defined at regime discretion). So what is going on here? Do we lift price control and apply SUNDDE or do we keep price control and apply SUNDDE (and its horrendous sanctions) only after they have reviewed prices?

But a wit could say that this is not too bad as long as stuff keeps hitting store shelves. But they are not.  And from El Universal we cannot be optimist. For example, now importers will have to sign an obligation, and pay "in advance", as a bail bond, whatever they plan to import, never mind that the regime may decide not to pay, or return the money months later after a hefty devaluation cum inflation damage. In short, the regime also implies there that the private sector is a whole bunch of criminals. You can imagine that all of this will only have for effect a further slowing down of the economy and production... Meanwhile contraband with Colombia flourishes uncontrolled and fueled by the disparity in currency exchange.... So even less food for Maracaibo and the Andes regions.

Anyway, to let you know that the proverbial s..t is hitting the fan already I have some pictures from last week end. The first one is a line to enter my local grocery store in Caracas. The first time in 40 years my family has lived there that we had to stand in line to enter our local grocer. Never mind that people in line were, well, not locals, coming on motorbikes from all around. Mercal, Bicentenario, PDVAL anyone?

The next two pictrues are 1) the cheese department which, I should nto complain I suppose, has still two varieties, down from the dozen or so it used to have and 2) the meat and fish section which are, well, empty.  Not that cheese was replaced by olives in an attempt at not looking too empty while some hams were dropped in lieu of meat....

In another store, some scarcities do not even bother to follow price control as imported toilet paper that arrived in small amounts is quickly sold with a "temporary" price....

Guys, stack up!
1) Andreina Tarazon is truly a basket case of bleached washed brain. Look at her twitter to see that she almost only retweets whatever Maduro says. No originality, no nothing, just a lame but mean politikal komissar.


  1. Roberto Carlos5:03 PM

    From the article: "Andreina Tarazon ... In short, this woman has absolutely no experience in what it is to determine what production and sale prices should be for business. I mean, she has never held a job in her life except those political ones...".

    Andreina's description sounds like Obama's, oh wait, Obama evolved into accepting gay marriage so he is ok.

    1. And your point is?

    2. well americans compare everyone with obama

    3. Anonymous2:36 AM

      Hey Roberto, Tell me again what Obama has to do with the situation in Venezuela? And what do you have against gay marriage? You must be a republican aye.

    4. Anonymous11:36 AM

      More Democrats are against gay marriage than republicans

      The Democratic Party is supportive of LGBT rights. Most support for same-sex marriage in the United States has come from Democrats, although some favor civil unions instead or oppose same-sex marriage. Support for same-sex marriage has increased in the past decade according to ABC News.
      The Tea Party, aka Republican Party, hates gay people the most. In a just-released Washington Post poll, members of the Tea Party came in as the lowest supporters of same-sex marriage by a huge margin.

    6. Speaking as an Rethuglican knuckle dragging throwback, can we please just leave this shit out of the blog? Who cares? Get a grip for gawds sake.

    7. Boludo Tejano5:39 PM

      When I was working in Venezuela, I purchased and read "Del Buen Salvaje Al Buen Revolucionario", written by the esteemed Venezuelan journalist Carlos Rangel. I still have the yellowed copy. Reading it was a very important step in my transformation from an progressive of the left into an evil right-winger. Nonetheles,I concur with HalfEmpty that a blog on Venezuelan politics and society is NOT the place to discuss US politics.

      Interesting that Carlos Rangel's grandson and tocayo is now writing for Caracas Chronicles.

  2. Ronaldo5:53 PM

    Controlling prices of electronics assisted Maduro et al in the December elections. It must have gone to their heads because they are trying to control and takeover every business. Somehow they never calculated shortages as a certain result of their actions.

    I still have major doubts that Chavistas can connect shortages with government actions. Can Maduro still keep stupid irrational Chavistas convinced that hoarding businesses are the problem?

    1. Can Maduro still keep stupid irrational Chavistas convinced that hoarding businesses are the problem?

      search: "Doublethink"

  3. violinist6:21 PM

    I like the new format - it seems cleaner.

    My family is experiencing the same food lines and lack of foods in their city. Even worse is the lack of necessary medicine. It's nowhere to be found in their city! I'm really hoping they figure out something temporary, if only to put off the inevitable....

    The news just gets more and more depressing.

    1. The lack of medicine is VERY scary.


  4. Same thing is happening in Valencia. Also people from Southern Valencia are getting by the thousands to Northern Valencia to queue up, for some days already. What do they do for a living? Thousands of elderly and housewives but also people I assume are professional street vendors who will resell whatever they get at several times the value in Southern Valencia. Sad stuff.

  5. Anonymous8:20 PM

    Good friend has been enhancing the quality of his beef herd over the last few difficult years. He sells for breeding and consumption. Prices offered to him have gone up in recent weeks. The problem is the vet who carries out the numerous blood tests, required by the "leaders", can't get hold of the necessary imported reagents for the testing.
    So food imports are screwed but at the same time domestic production, that which remains, suffers with the same consequences.
    You just couldn't plan this outcome if you tried.

  6. Holy crap.
    6 rolls of Costco butt wipe for $48 USD at the official exchange rate.
    $8 USD at the black market rate.
    Costco in the USA sells 30 rolls for $18. Or, 6 for $3.60 USD.

    1. Anonymous4:07 AM

      Shortages of toilet paper seem to be a sure sign that the Central Planning that is a hallmark of edging-totalitarian governments is really "working".

      We have seen this quite recently in Venezuela as well.

      Free markets and property rights work every time they are allowed to exist. Government control does not.

  7. Eduardo10:40 PM


    Have you read the new on the suspended School Food Program:

    (sorry don't know HTML codes).

    It is really gloomy....

  8. Daniel,
    You are being tracked by

    1. Hu? I never heard of it. Then again Macs are of little use in Venezuela.....

    2. I never wrote anything about Macs vis à vis Trove.
      More about Trove

  9. Anonymous6:48 AM

    As long as old par and polar are available. It's a party each weekend!

  10. Anonymous10:27 AM

    The expected is hitting the fan. More of those who still had faith in Chavez/Maduro will lose faith each day, Maduro's blame game will not save him, which doesn't mean the regime will go, just him. A third Chavista regime likely imo. But a short lived one, ended by......the military ???? to keep the peace as hungry out of work people march/riot,,,,,will Chavista irregulars fade into the shadows or oppose the takeover......and then............................of course, sitting in Canada i've no idea what's going to happen, so just wondering ......

  11. Yngvar3:50 PM

    It's dangerous days for the poor animals at Caracas Zoo...

  12. Stefan4:01 PM

    Maduro is in trouble: Marc Weisbrot, who wrote that famous article in the "Guardian" last summer, in which he argued that the reports about a crisis in Venezuela were way exaggerated, now asks for a Chinese bailout. "It is well worth China’s efforts, which could be made at little or no cost, to help maintain stability in the region."

    1. Anonymous11:14 PM

      Can we have a link please?

    2. Boludo Tejano5:43 PM

      Link and ye shall find. Just Googled the quote.

  13. Anonymous4:51 PM

    A China bailout would be a temporary patch. I don't think they would do it.

  14. My wife, who lives in Puerto Cabello, was telling me about this last night. There is not much to be found in the stores and many people waiting all day in line to buy it. She is having to make do with what she can find, not what she would prefer to eat.

  15. Anonymous11:54 PM

    Venezuelans must learn to eat bullshit. There will always be plenty of that from the chavista government. Has anyone heard from Sean Penn or Danny Glover about the food problem? Are they too busy promoting 21st Century Socialism in other countries so they can starve, too?

  16. Anonymous12:13 AM

    Solution: Take what ever oil revenue is left after you have paid the Chinese bankers and the ALBA parasites like Cuba, and head for the USA. There is plenty of food for sale there because they have a capitalistic private sector. You have shown them the "oil weapon," now let them show you the "food weapon" as you give the wicked gringos back their money to keep from starving because of stupid economic policies.


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