Monday, February 08, 2016

When ration cards are an economic best option

I guess long time readers of this blog may blanch at the title, but bear with me a tad longer.

I have stopped living regularly in Yaracuy but I am in close touch. I still hold a home there. So checking things when I came back from my recent trip overseas I learned what is simply a staggering piece of news.

Now people need to register for a list of food items, namely the most wanted list of regulated basic staples: corn flour, corn oil, chicken and a half dozen more. The system will work as follow.

Somebody will come to your home and will register you and how many live there. Then, as items become available, someone will visit you in advance and you need to pay. You will get informed at what date delivery will come and you will need to have someone at home to receive the goods. These goods cannot be purchased anymore at any store in Yaracuy. You can only get them through registration at your local town hall and receive them either through home delivery or neighborhood distribution. Apparently local branches of PDVAL and MERCAL will simply close.

I could not get all the details as it seems they sort of vary according to the type of neighborhood you live in. One contact got a distribution of corn flour and chicken at the end of the street just because the consejo comunal knew she lived there (she had registered anyway). Another one has duly registered early in January. Once she received black beans after a two weeks delay after paying for them (200 Bs, 2 dimes!). Another time she got corn flour and mayo or something.

What is wrong with this picture?

First, the apparent commodity of having home delivery is an excuse: you can control better on an individual basis who gets what and remind them of that each and every time,

Second, the state can do significant "savings" on goods availability. Indeed, being absent from Yaracuy during this registration process I cannot purchase anything and I am sure that registering after the fact is not going to be easy. Never mind that if there is nobody home when you are visited at putting the order time, well, you get no delivery. And the better if delivery is when, say, you are at work.

Third, this is a monstrously complicated and expensive system to set in place. A ration card system with an assigned store would be much simpler and cheaper, if you must ration. Hence the title of this post.

Fourth, it is extremely sectarian and anti business. Of course. Not only stores are now forbidden to sell certain type of goods but you cannot buy certain type of goods out of your living areas. Soon enough we move on to conditions like soviet areas where people in certain cities had access to more varied type of goods than folks in small towns and country side where nobody could visit and thus could figure out what was going on. A little bit more and you will need a permit to travel between San Felipe and Caracas.

Why, oh why?

Julio Leon Heredia is Yaracuy governor and he is a fascist. I do not know as of this typing if other states are having such schemes set up, but I would not be surprised at all that Yaracuy is ahead of the pack.  This is quite along the lines of the autocratic mentality of Heredia, someone blocked to any dialogue and who in addition is still in shock at the loss of his own brother election in December 6 and who is probably delighted at punishing the Yaracuy people that did not vote for him at a 80% rate. It is just that simple, I know the character, I have already been a victim of his administration.


  1. Anonymous5:28 AM

    Tascon List II. "We will feed you, but only if you're not on one of our lists. First, let's check who you are, shall we? We only have so much food to distribute." Orwell would be astounded. Chilling. It really is happening, this time outside of North Korea.

  2. IslandCanuck8:53 AM

    Here in Margarita we have not been subjected to what you are describing.

    I would assume that those who are willing or able to pay higher prices will still be able to find products.
    For instance we just found some long duration milk at Bs.500 per litre.
    The last lot we bought was Bs.333 Lt in mid November. The strange thing is it has no expiry date - not rubbed out, just not there. Very strange. Milk is OK, at least for now.

    As I mentioned in a previous post chicken & meat are available at Sigo supermarket but way above "official" prices. Hopefully that will continue. I'm tempted to load up our freezer but with coming electrical problems that may not be the best idea.

  3. Anonymous2:00 PM

    Home delivery makes it easier to give and/or receive a bribe.
    While the price of the food will be low, the delivery cost will bring the cost back up to market value.
    The delivery people will do quite well in this scenario.

  4. In Cuba we had a ration book assigned to each family. From what I recall it was possible to use it to buy in more than one store. But the ration was really slim, so my parents made sure we always stood in line and bought whatever was available. If we didn't need it we would barter it. We also bought black market goodies (that was fairly dangerous, my aunt ended up in jail when she was caught with 3 kg of beef). We also supplemented it with restaurant food, which was incredibly bad at peso stores (Cubans had no access to foreigner stores in those days). We also fished once in a while, caught and ate pigeons, and obe time my friends and I ate a cat.

    You'll get used to it, I suppose. And Obama and his Wall Street friends will point out the only way to change a communist dictatorship is to trade with it, send it goodies, and loan money to its corporations and joint ventures.

    1. Fernando, do you really think the U.S. embargo on Cuba was serving a useful purpose?

    2. Yes Fernando did you not have to eat pigeon and cat and did your aunt not go to jail all when the embargo was on. If lifting it results in even a tiny better life for the Cuban people are they not better off? Has the dictator scum not already got all he cares for or do you think now the Cuban people will be worse off? I think all realize what a dirt bag Castro is and all he deserves is death but if the Americans can benefit in any way and the Cuban people are better off in any way then is not ending the failed embargo not worth it? Or would mass starvation when the Venezuelan freebies be your goal? Not meaning to beat you up on this but tired of all the people slamming Obama for all he does. This is one of few moves that makes sense.

    3. ConsDemo, yes it is serving a purpose: It makes prospective coup mongers and tyrants think twice before they decide to extinguish all signs of democracy. The problem I see with Obamas (and I guess yours) logic is the inability to integrate a full dynamic model of what goes on in the world. The embargo didn´t replace the Castro dictatorship simply because it was very ineffective. The embargo was ineffective for three reasons: 1. Canadians, Europeans, and Latin Americans didn´t a really good job filling in for any missing USA trade. 2. The Cuban exile community sent billions of USD which helped prop up the regime. and 3. Fidel Castro was adamantly stalinist and an megalomaniac.

      So what has changed? Fidel Castro is a mental turnip. Raul Castro, who is much more pragmatic, isn´t too keen on Fidel´s ideas, but he definitely wants to sustain the dictatorship and continue his brother´s project, which involves colonizing Venezuela via the secret police and a few Venezuelan traitors. This would be followed by moves into Colombia and elsewhere. Raul is also very keen on having his oldest son inherit power, to maintain a hybrid dictatorship in which Cubans are kept as slaves of a red oligarchy allied with foreign interests. Cash flow will be enhanced by loans from US interests, and investment in the tourist/gambling/prostitution industries. Quite profitable when you have a slave population under an Orwellian regime blessed by the USA, EUropean, Chinese, and Latinamerican elites.

      I like to write about the Cuban experience to warn Venezuelans not to expect much real help from the outside. These human rights abuses and other horrors take place all over the world, and very civilized, well mannered, and well dressed socialites sit in their living rooms discussing the natives´quaint manner of dress and chuckling about the local tyrant´s odd behavior.

    4. I couldn't agree more that human rights violations are not adequately addressed in the world and are basically ignored if no other motive like oil is in play to act upon. The world majority (never will happen) really need to dray up a world constitution with a very clear set of penalties and actions if broken based on human rights abuses. These should include the removal of the gov't. But to think anything would be better in this world if Obama keeps the embargo on is wishful thinking. To further think that dictators like Castro or Chavez would fear international embargoes and hence would not do what they do is foolish. Castro's plan required alienation from the USA and any other part of the democratic world much as he hoped for in the Chavez/Venezuela model. He wished the USA and any democracy like Canada and Europe would follow with alienation, embargoes etc. All part of the grand scheme to justify taking ALL wealth from the people. Wisely in the Venezuela case the USA and others did not do this and instead showed they care about the Venezuela people just have issues with the way the country is run. This approach took away all that Chavez was preaching about the USA and allies. If the USA took the same path as they did with Cuba then Venezuela would be lost for a century just like Cuba.

    5. Ok, so your solution is to propose something you know won't happen...dictators or would be dictators don't fear sanctions if the sanctions are somewhat ineffective. The economic sanctions used by the USA were largely ineffective because Latin American, and European nations kept on trading. Canada too did its part.

      But the sanctions are there, and Obamas message is quite untimely when Venezuela's future is hanging by a thread, when Fidel is senile, Raul is old and wants to perpetuate his family in power by having his son Alejandro inherit. So the timing is terrible. It also signals that "western" nations have fully abandoned the little veneer of moral legitimacy they had. What is emerging in this century is an complete lack of morals in foreign policy on all sides.

      To be honest, since you are Canadian you are out of this. You Canadians enjoy your masquerade and go to Cuba to exploit female and male prostitutes, exploit slave labor, and that's it. You don't count. My message is for Venezuelans. They do need to understand we are together fighting a monster, and that in the end none of you outsiders give a hoot. You won't lift a finger, period. And you will make all sorts of arguments to justify what you do.

      The solution to this war, and it is a war, is for those of us who face these barbarians to understand we are alone, but have to join forces and soldier on. Venezuelans have to help us put pressure on the Castro dictatorship, and we have to do what we can to put pressure on Maduro to resign and leave peacefully.

      I'm not into advocating violence, but I do see the threat that Venezuela may eventually be like Lebanon, or Caracas look like Aleppo. As for Cuba, the one certainty we have is that the regime will fall. The question is whether they cement themselves in power for another generation thanks to Obama, the red pope, and your help.

    6. Well I do not disagree with all you say and often look to read your comments. HOWEVER, I have never been to Cuba and never will under Castro's rule. My wife is from Venezuela and all her family is living through this disaster and it pains me greatly to see her and them suffer as she cannot even have her 6 year old know her family which she loves dearly. I do not deny the evil that is Castro or Chavez/Maduro. Personally I see Bernie Sanders as having the same disastrous policies as a Chavez and Trump as the same self serving bastard as was Chavez. I am the farthest thing from a socialist as a business owner but see radicals from either side as dangerous.
      All I am saying is embargoes are good if they are working and useless if not and causing harm to a populous as well as hurting your own corporations. That leaders like Castro and Chavez/Maduro are pure self serving slime and part of their pitch to control people is to have the world isolate their country. If you want to attack Canadians then I will counter with the logic that Cubans if anyone should be the last to advise Venezuelans as they failed miserably in dealing with a similar situation. Not that I believe this just the same logic as you chastising Canadians. Your logic that us Canadians all go to Cuba to sleep with male and female prostitutes would be the same as me saying all you Cubans do is nothing but sleep with male and female Canadians for pocket change. I do not understand why you need to make such comments because I differ on the value of a failed embargo???

  5. Awesome.. Cubazuela at the cutting edge of technological and economic advancement, worldwide. Next thing you know it's back to the Barter system of the Neanderthals, half a chicken for some salt and rice.

  6. Let's not forget what preceded the Embargo. EXPROPRIATIONS..Businesses were stolen and the Corporations were not compensated. The embargo was not to punish the Cuban people. It was in response to the expropriations. The Nationalizations without compensation hurt people. People think this happened to companies with millions of dollars and forget about the employees of these companies. It hurt small businesses as well, which trickles down to the simple laborer. People were fired, let go, and salaries cut. Families were left without jobs. There is a common theme to ignore the little people who were affected by this. It was not only the Cuban people who suffered, and albeit probably more than the foreign peoples who were affected, but they are forgotten. Lost behind the political definition and symbolism of the Embargo. However, there were real people, everyday working people who were destroyed by this. If you happened to work for a corporation that had monies, properties, investments, or other assets that were suddenly stolen then chances are that that corporation suddenly found itself bankrupt, or close to it. And that meant people who worked for those companies or subsidiaries were gravely affected here in the US. People seem to think that because the US is a land of opportunity that there is always another way to make a buck if Americans lose their jobs. But real people were devastated. This is the forgotten side of the Embargo and rarely mentioned. The Embargo did not come out of nowhere.

    1. The problem with USA foreign policy has been its lack of ability to understand the Art of War. I wouldn't have used an embargo. I would have simply invaded just like the damn Russians invaded Eastern Europe. The USA just doesn't seem to get it, that once a conflict starts the better solution is to obliterate the enemy. This was well understood by Churchill and Eisenhower. USA democrats never did get it. And recently USA republicans are just as brain dead, focused on pleasing the Israel lobby and carrying out a half baked imbecile foreign policy under bush, which Obama has continued.

      The world simply isn't made to have nations survive if they don't carry things through to the bitter end. This is a lesson many don't get, and it's why we just keep on and on without seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Communist dictatorships are the enemy. The Soviets fell, but China, and Cuba are still there. The Cubans used Venezuelan cash to undermine Europe via Podemos and Syriza, will keep trying to colonize Venezuela and move on to take over Colombia if they can. And yet we see that hedonistic, corrupt, and imbecile American and European elite playing footsies and forgetting the lessons of history.

  7. Boludo Tejano9:59 AM

    Fernando, our Canadian friend might be interested in finding out how many dollars per month the foreign hotels pay the Cuban government for a Cuban hotel worker, and how many of those dollars end up in the hands of that Cuban hotel worker. I have read those numbers,which amount to a rather high tax, but no longer have the links. I suspect that you have links with that information.

    1. I have seen those numbers and follow foreign politics religiously, especially the Caribbean region and is why I have never traveled to Cuba even though a Cuban vacation is half the price from Canada as anywhere else in the region. And don't think workers are not exploited at other resorts in many other Caribbean, Mexico and Central America as they are. As I have mentioned I believe the evils that are Castro, but I do not think the embargo was working and believe the people of Cuba will have a better chance at eating without it then with it.

  8. Boludo Tejano4:26 PM

    And don't think workers are not exploited at other resorts in many other Caribbean, Mexico and Central America as they are.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but from my readings on the issue of Cuban hotel workers I recall that the foreign hotels pay the Cuban government an amount between $200-$600 per month for each Cuban hotel worker. The Cuban hotel worker gets $20- or is it $40. Which makes the exploitation on the part of the Cuban government much greater than the exploitation of any blood sucking capitalist hotel in the Dominican Republic or any other country in Latin America. Just sayin'

    1. IslandCanuck5:09 PM

      They do the same with the Cuban doctors and other Cuban workers here in Venezuela.

      Are there any Cuban doctors left in Venezuela??

    2. I saw a headline that most, if not all Cuban doctors leaving around 6D...I remember this well because I remember thinking, "Now they are going to blame this on the opposition controlled AN". That all the doctors have left..

  9. Boludo Tejano11:19 PM

    but I do not think the embargo was working and believe the people of Cuba will have a better chance at eating without it then with it.

    I am not going to argue with you about the success of the embargo. Fidel and Raul are still around: that says it all. Concerning your belief that ending the embargo will enable the Cuban people to eat better, let's look at milk production.
    From 1961 to 2013, Cuba's milk production increased by a factor of 1.7.[from 350,000 metric tons to 591,000 metric tons]
    By comparison, milk production in Latin America & the Caribbean increased by a factor of 4.64 [18.57 million MT to 86.20 million metric tons.] Sounds as if all of Fidel's talk about Ubre Blanca, the wonder cow, was that- just talk. The abysmal record of Cuba's milk production compared to the rest of Latin America cannot be blamed on the embargo. The CIA wasn't shooting cows.

    Michael Totten's blog @ World Affairs Journal has a number of articles on his visits to Cuba. Totten points out that there is a lot of fallow land in the Cuban countryside. Hard to blame that on the embargo.

    You do realize that Cuba can import medical and agricultural products from the US, but has to pay cash? Livestock Primary. The Americas

    1. I don't disagree with any of that not sure why you think I do. I believe I state what an evil slime ball Castro is. I do not blame the embargo for what's wrong in Cuba just do not believe it is fixing anything. As for capitalist hotels in other countries paying staff same as Cuba does but hotel does not pay the govt same I do not argue that. Just that I do not put a personal embargo on the capitalist hotels for paying going rate for an employee in their country. Is what it is I have a personal embargo on Cuba due to Castro. Many of my friends go their as is their right. I just don't blame Obama for ending it. Was not accomplishing what was hoped. As for posting name my cell shows Ash Kinder my computer Canadian looking in.


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