Saturday, September 27, 2014

Evidence of a wrecked economy: Daniel shops

There are of course those that still think the regime has a plan. A plan it does: to hold on to power forever. But a plan to improve Venezuela economy, social situation, health care, etc.?  Dream on...

Between yesterday and today I visited two stores that speak volumes on how degraded the economic situation since Maduro destroyed any confidence that the business may have harbored. Not much to begin with... In short, since the "dakazo" of last November when Maduro organized official looting to empty all the stores from electronic goods to win the municipal election, these stores have simply not renewed their stock. And if on occasion something comes through it is because the regime has given them official dollars so they avoid again the high armed robbery the regime did against them last year.

We will start with the book store in Caracas that I tended to use. I had not been there in 6 months. Well, there is nothing.

We start with the travel section. Only three books from 2014, the not very good but cheaper Fodor
for Hawaii, London and New York. Put to advantage because the other books are much older, including on the
top shelf Zagat from 2002....  Not that it matters, we cannot travel anymore outside of
Venezuela but the point here is that a major book store has such an non existent supply.
OK, so travel guides are a frivolous pursuit in a socialist country. Let's thus go to my favorite
section in any bookstore in the world: History books.  There you go, nothing. Near to you there is about
a dozen books of general history, and no good ones, the last remnant that nobody wants.
Further behind the shelves for Venezuelan history books, Since they are printed here there is
a little bit more of a choice, but not even a third of what it used to be a year ago.
(apologies for the overturned pic...I cannot fix it up!)

Since we cannot dream of travels, nor educate ourselves there is the general literature section, no?
In front of you you have the SciFi section, a favorite of youth, which holds not even a dozen of
books, Harry Potter...  you can see for yourself that the three other sections hardly fare better.
Clearly, the glorious bolivarian revolution has no need for education. People only need to watch state TV and read the official newspaper. All the Kultur they need will be there.

Today I took the S.O. to buy a new refrigerator. We started by a place that "supposedly" had some choice, limited but choice nevertheless. It is "Nasri" located on Avenida Roosevelt, a 100 yards from where the feared barrios of Cementerio and Helicoide start.  That is, one of the first stores to be looted by chavismo last November.  Judge for yourself.

As you can see, there is nothing save a few stoves and some windows AC that were already set apart for someone. The once upon a time emporium is so empty that some of the aisles are now closed...

If you need a refrigerator, well, too bad...........


  1. Boludo Tejano9:40 PM

    As we used to say back in the day: No mon, no fun. PDVSA claimed export sales of $120 Billion in 2012. I wonder how much PDVSA will claim for 2013 and 2014. And where the money went.

    Common sense would inform one that a country with $120 billion in annual export sales of petroleum should have no problem in importing basic goods. But as you well know, a Venn diagram of the intersection of Common Sense on the one hand, and GOV policy on the Venezuelan economy on the other hand, would have little or no intersection.
    Again and again, we find ourselves in Alice in Wonderland country. Not the first time, and not the last time with regard to Chavezuela.

    1. Boludo Tejano10:44 PM

      Here is the PDVSA statement on 2013 exports, from its 2013 annual report: Informe de Gestión Anual 2013 (parte 6),pg. 198:
      "Exportaciones y Ventas en el exterIor:
      Durante el año 2013, las exportaciones de crudo y productos fueron de 111.360 millones de dólares, reflejando una disminución de 10.120 millones de dólares (8%) en relación con el año 2012, que fueron de 121.480 millones de dólares, debido principalmente a una disminución del precio promedio de exportación de la cesta venezolana de 5,34 Us$/Bl, al pasar de 103,42 Us$/Bl en 2012 a 98,08Us$/Bl en 2013.

      Sales and exports abroad:
      For 2013, exports of crude oil and related products were $111.360 billion, reflecting a reduction of $10.12 billion [8%] in relation to 2012, due principally to a reduction of $5.34/BBL in the average export price of oil, from $103.42/BBL in 2012 to $98.08 in 2013."

      As the saying goes, ¿Dónde están los reales? Where DID the money go?

      These export figures from PSVSA appear bogus to me, as no country with such an export income should have trouble purchasing toilet paper, let alone history books or refrigerators.

  2. You should visit Havana to find out what it will be like in 20 years.

    1. Anonymous9:36 AM

      rule of thumb:

      History never repeats itself.Even if Cuba is in control, circumstances are always different because of changing times and cultures.In order to see what is happening we have to go beyond memes


    2. The Cuban dictatorship is in partial control. The Venezuelan people lack the political savvy and the endurance to do much about it. Given the Cuban oligarchy´s sheer stupidity and inability to implement a rational economic system, their reliance on repression, and their militarist nature, Venezuela is just going to fall into the claws of a venal, corrupt and incredibly stupid satrapy controlled by Cubans. In other words, Venezuela was taken over using a long term plan which in a sense worked. The problem for the Cuban dictatorship is the way Ramirez ran down PDVSA, and Maduro´s ability to shoot his mouth off and make the craziest moves. This doesn´t help the Castro dinasty to gain absolute control.

      If I were Venezuelan I´d pack my bags and leave. Venezuelans are completely unable to deal with their Cuban masters.

  3. Boludo Tejano10:49 AM

    Daniel, bookstores haven't fared well of late in the US, either, though for reasons not entirely identical to their decline in Venezuela. Amazon and e-books have put a big dent in their sales. Used book stores have seen their intake reduced by both increased use of e-books and by seeing their middleman role eliminated by CraigsList. When a used book store will buy your book for a dollar, and sell it for five dollars, why not just put it on CraigsList and sell it direct for five dollars?

    My cousin from NYC recently visited. Just for the heck of it I suggested visiting a local used book store, where I have gotten hardbound classics of history and literature for a buck or two. She surprised me by assenting to visit the store- told me that most of the book stores in NYC had shut down. Strand, fortunately, was still standing. She ended up buying several books. Surprising that someone from NYC would buy books in TX.

    1. there is a difference: kindle is killing bookstores. but in venezuela there is no such thing as kindle and even in kindle the choices in spanish are not too great. and you cannot pay for them in usd in internet. in venezuela it is the regime that kills bookstores.

    2. The difference is , the NYC book stores have books in stock , but few customers . The Caracas stores have few books and fewer customers.
      There are still 7 Barnes and Noble stores in Manhattan ... why , I don't know .
      I buy most of my books online

  4. Island Canuck11:00 AM

    I read a lot of books & even have a library for the guests here in our posada although most are in English & there are few foreigners these days.

    Two years ago I switched to a Galaxy Tab with the Kindle program installed from Amazon. The Tab is gone but I contiue to use Kindle on my current Samsung phone. I wouldn't think of buying an actual printed book. Kindle is so easy to buy anything I want & easy to read.

    I have no dificulty understanding why book stores everywhere are closing. Like travel agencies, film processors & camera makers they are all "buggy whip" industries that will disappear completely over time.

    With regard to the electronics stores being empty the same is true of stores from LG & Samsung here in Margarita although some independent retailers have TVs, phones & other electronic goodies.

  5. Eddie B2:40 PM

    Some of the largest malls in Caracas now more closely resemble ghost towns. Half the stores are closed indefinitely, and those that remain open have small inventories of crappy stuff that nobody wants at high prices. If I owned a store there right now, I would simply shut it down. Better to stop while you're still ahead instead of watching yourself slowly sink into bankruptcy by losing money each day you remain open.

    1. Anonymous9:34 AM

      2 years after Chavez won, I had the vision to see the entire future and got out before I lost my money.I could not afford to do otherwise.

      Some people there are truly trapped because of family....and others have not had the courage or ability to leave for different reasons....and then others are tolerating it because they still make way too much money in Venezuela compared to what they would make elsewhere.It's not a one size fits all...firepigette

    2. Eddie B3:52 PM

      I'm not saying they should leave the country. I'm just saying there's no point in keeping a business open under conditions where it is almost impossible to make money. Also, I find it very hard to believe that there are still people in Venezuela that make more money than they could somewhere else, with the obvious exception of the boliburgueses. My own relatives in Venezuela are university educated professionals, and they earn the equivalent of two or three hundred dollars a month. People here in Florida that clean toilets for a living earn far more than that!

    3. Anonymous11:42 AM

      Eddie B

      I could not agree more.I personally know opposition folks making a mint with CADIVI dollars..and then there are others who simply earn a high salary for doing precious little, AND complaining.Seeing all this has greatly reduced my sympathy.Yet there are still honest , hardworking people there who are suffering so It's a mix....a very damaging mix..But I came to find that the opposition is full of farsantes!


  6. Eddie B2:48 PM

    The richest irony of all this is that even most hard core chavistas never wanted something that resembled Soviet style communism, and now they have it. Sadly and foolishly, they still advocate a "socialist" solution to the current situation.

    1. Boludo Tejano7:30 PM

      No, they didn't want rationed communism- which is not exactly shopper's paradise. From the Chavista man-on-the-street point of view, Chavismo would surpass the Fourth Republic by enabling them to say "Deme tres" instead of the Fourth Republic's "Deme dos."

  7. Charly5:12 PM

    Daniel, if you are looking for a well stocked bookstore full of history books, I would suggest an outlet from "Librerias del Sur". There is one in San Felipe.

    1. well, thank you for the suggestion! maybe you care to recommend titles?

    2. pitiyanqui7:06 AM

      They may not have it at that bookstore (thought I have seen Spanish language editions, but if I may recommend a title, or perhaps you've read it... it combines 14th century European/French history with some excellent storytelling that echoes some of the goings-on in Venezuela:

      A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman.

      Easily one of my favorite reads and its lensed through the life of a nobleman at the time.

  8. Charly8:06 AM

    I will drop by the outlet located at the national terminal of Maiquetia on Friday and check it out. Who's your favorite "procer"? Always glad to be of assistance.

  9. Nebelwald4:49 PM

    Librerias del Sur? Isn't that the government sponsored chain? A mixed bag with a lot of ideological rubbish. It was possible a or two ago to find some interesting titles in some areas. One much appreciated purchase was a marvelous collection of Vzln. indigenous folklore from different cultures, richly illustrated, bilingual plus a CD. Many Librerias del Sur have eventually closed down in various parts of the country. Bon chance.

  10. Boludo Tejano10:00 AM

    Evidence of a wrecked economy: Daniel shops, looking for the the golden eggs of the Petrostate:Oil Benchmark Hits 28-Month Low.
    The price of oil hit a more than two-year low in trading recently, as Brent crude plunged to just over $92 a barrel. For more than a year, that benchmark was trading above $100 a barrel, but a variety of factors has sent prices in a downward spiral in recent months, as you can see in the graph above. That is a $20+/BBL drop from mid June to now.
    Better do your shopping PDQ, Daniel. When it comes to empty shelves, you ain't seen nothing yet.

    And this comes in the month when Venezuela is supposed to make a humongous bond payment.


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