Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Not amused

I am watching and reading some of the news on Venezuela, slightly bemused. Apparently they are so unbelievable for the civilized world that one would be forgiven to think that Venezuela: survivor is just your latest reality show fade, somewhere between the Kardashians for its bad taste and Chopped for its cut throat run for food. My favorite of the day comes from a segment from yesterday nightly news (the big one at France 2) which starts with a food line. Yet readers of this blog have seen much more impressive lines filmed by yours truly, in this blog or Instagram.

But it is getting serious and CÑN tonight had a title with "no bread in Venezuela".

It is true and it is not amusing.

I eat little bread for diet reasons, limiting myself to full fiber sliced super market loaves. But the SO wanted some bakery bread. I went to 4. I did not find any. The last one I found some "pan dulce" and that was that, good enough to eat with a cup of coffee, if you have it. They also told me that they bake bread only twice a day now, for early breakfast and for diner when people come back from work. Depending on the bakery they give one or two "canillas" (sort of our local baguette). And that within 15 minutes it is usually all gone.

But this is not the only item missing.

Since my return early February things have been getting worse, almost on a daily basis. Supermarket shelves are getting emptier, lines are less frequent because nothing arrives, and when something arrives lines get truly huge in no time. If bakery bread is missing sliced bread is down at the grocery store and my favorite brand has now a weird taste. I am not complaining, I can still switch to another brand. For how long?

Bottled water seems to be gone for good.

Choice is also gone.  Deli is getting to a "it is that or nothing level". Now grocery stores are not even trying to hide the empty spaces with junk.

On the medical front things are worse, if possible. Today I learned of the arrival of some generics from a medicine for triglycerides that I had to stop taking. I arrived in time at my local "LOCATEL". I tried to get also a small bottle of rubbing alcohol. To my surprise there is none. The lone brand on the market has stopped delivering. No more rubbing alcohol for your disinfection needs!

Since my SO, and the mother in law, are physically unable to stand in line for anything for more than half an hour, we must all share the burden. I cannot so I am resorting more and more to black market. I put on Instagram the latest of my loot on toilet paper, two heavy bags at 8 times the normal cost (and I learned that actually I got it for cheap!). But I also got 12 kilos of pasta that way, albeit at only twice the normal cost. Currently I am waiting for milk (it will be twice) and rice (at least thrice). But I have also been told not to hope much for that arrival. Corn flour is too political so my black market guy does not dare to go there. For that I will need to go to "buhoneros" in Petare at 4 times the cost, if not more, under the eyes of the Nazional Guard.

There is no black market for medicine because  there is none. Well, almost no black market. One of my siblings got some of his heart medicine from some one bringing it form the US and cashing it in USD!!!!!!! Well, in all fairness apparently there had been some mistake so the guy sold what he did not need through contacts, but in dollars, with overhead anyway. I am expecting some form of black market for some medicines to start organizing.

At this point the neglect of the regime can only be qualified as of criminal, worthy of large scale human right violations and The Hague court. It is as such because the regime refuses to let any opening for anything, aware as they are that if they relinquish control over any item they risk to see everything tumble down fast. So if "el pueblo" suffers a secret Zika epidemic because there is no fumigation, there is no insect repellent, there is not even material to do mosquito netting, well too bad. I also read that HIV may be getting out of control since there has been a lack of protection for over a year, and lack of testing. This in addition to malaria and tuberculosis that made a come back BEFORE Chavez died.

Make no mistake: it is Chavez electorate that is suffering the most. And it is the one that lately seems to start heating up.

So you will excuse me if articles about gas hike in Venezuela or lack of tourists, even though it is the cheapest destination in the Western hemisphere, leave me cold.

I, for one, could not care less if my car gasoline refill is now 350 instead of 5.

In fact I do not give a shit about gas price.

I have real problems elsewhere. Let foreign journos that are into spectator sports take care of that.


  1. Thank you Daniel! I wait daily for your next blog post.

  2. Anonymous7:54 AM


    I read your blog frequently. I am Venezuelan-born, from an old Caracas family that moved to the US when I was a toddler. My connection to Venezuela has been the times I visited my grandparents a child and young adult, until 1998 when I stopped going.

    I've followed the deteriorating situation closely for the past four years or so. As things gradually became worse I would say "but what I can I do?" And i'd come up with nothing. Because I could not do anything.

    As things reach the breaking point, nothing is no longer acceptable to me. It's with great dismay especially that I read about the lack of medical basics that is causing widespread and needless suffering.

    Perhaps you're not in possession of the best answer to this, but I hope you don't mind if I ask anyway: What can a Venezuelan (or for that matter any concerned individual abroad) do to help mitigate this crisis? Is there any means to get medication or supplies to the people who actually need it right now? I'd be more than happy to organize on my part whatever I can.

    You can reach me at vzlahelp01 at gmail if need be.

    1. I would like this information also.

    2. First, if you are a US citizen start badgering your congress person and senator.

      Second, speak to your physician and consider organizing some justified medical fraud so a US doctor will write some type of prescriptions. I was in the US a few weeks ago and doctors refused to write prescriptions unless they saw the patient. The only one they would have considered, an antibiotic, is not approved by the FDA anyway. The fraud is that you can put that in your insurance because prices of US medicine are the most expensive in the world. Once this is done when a Venezuelan in need travels to Miami/Podunk you can ship him or her whatever they need according to what you can offer of put on your insurance without raising too much of an eyebrow. We could organize through this blog, for example, some kind of exchange system as some people can/must travel but cannot bring all sorts of things that other folks need.

      That is the real way to help because nothing can be shipped to Venezuela: medicines would be confiscated and destroyed, food simply stolen.

    3. Anonymous7:05 PM

      I don't know about medicines, but my wife and I ship food regularly to her family in Valencia. It is delivered right to the door. As far as we know, nothing has been stolen yet.

    4. Collect an inventory of meds, that you or others will never use. Forward them to friends or gov/business persons traveling to Venezuela. Even if these people sell them, instead of just donating these drugs to the people, at least they are getting into the country.

    5. Anonymous7:40 PM

      Please think twice about traveling to Venezuela with prescription meds that are not made out to you. Especially if you are gringo you are opening yourself up to all sorts of problems (extortion by a very helpful Nazi guard being the least). This could easily be considered as trafficking and result in your deportation at best or getting to know your local prane at worst.
      Caracas Canadian

    6. Anonymous10:25 PM

      "First, if you are a US citizen start badgering your congress person and senator."


      "Second, speak to your physician and consider organizing some justified medical fraud so a US doctor will write some type of prescriptions. I was in the US a few weeks ago and doctors refused to write prescriptions unless they saw the patient. The only one they would have considered, an antibiotic, is not approved by the FDA anyway. The fraud is that you can put that in your insurance because prices of US medicine are the most expensive in the world.

      It doesn't really work that way. There are copays, and insurance has to approve certain medications. Insurance can also drop you. This would work perhaps once or twice, but soon would jeopardize coverage or cause severe legal problems. Prescription fraud is a felony and a jail-able offense in the U.S.

      A better way might be to work within nonprofit health organizations to see what medicines can be dispensed in bulk for humanitarian reasons. The trick is, getting it into the country.

      Smuggling? Sure. It might take forever, and smuggling is smuggling, complete with all of the extreme personal risk to the courier. I am hoping instead there is a semi-legal channel available. Or at least some aid organization that can help with this. This is where I struggle. Is there simply no secure channel available to import medicine to Venezuela for humanitarian reasons?

  3. "Make no mistake: it is Chavez electorate that is suffering the most." The schadenfreude would be complete if this "the most" did not come to spoil it and in a big way.

    1. You prefer "mostly suffering? I can change it. :-)

    2. I would have preferred: "it is only Chavez electorate that is suffering". Then schadenfreude there would be. Unfortunately this is not the case as I can see with my in-laws, especially the nephews and nieces. Those Chavista idiots and their moronic electorate are creating a lost generation.

  4. They need to figure out how to "eat the revolution." It's all they have left.

  5. I saw on YouTube that people are starting to grow their own vegetables in empty lots. Maduro, on TV is suggesting people do their own gardening. Can't image whats next!

    1. Growing veggies in empty lots is a hassle, they get stolen. We did that n Cuba, limited the garden to a semicircle reachable by a dog we chained to a fence. Crime in Cuba wasn't nearly as bad as in Venezuela. Plus there aren't that many empty lots. I have a friend in Valencia planting her backyard, but she has barbed wire traps on the wall. I joked with her if she caught a malandro she ought to cut it up and eat it.

    2. Boludo Tejano7:53 PM

      When I was working in Trinidad, I was informed that midnight raids on vegetable patches had resulted in a lot fewer vegetable gardens, of both small and larger scale.

    3. and don't forget most of the big cities have poor soil and water is of great shortage....

  6. I always read with great interest and concern. Thank you!

  7. I read that humanitarian aid from Europe is in the workings but that they will only release it for distribution to bonafide nonprofits like Caritas. I think that Venezuela needs to look at Argentina for inspiration. Just with a change in government with a competent cabinet with a reasonable economic program they were able to remove exchange rate restrictions, make an offer to pay off their debt and get relief from a US Judge that was blocking their access to loans and appease the unions. They changed their foreign policy orientation by 180 degrees and are firing all the government freeloaders they can find. Mind you they were not in as deep a hole as Venezuela but arguably Venezuela can still lease out oil exploitation plots, ramp up food production and slowly bring PDVSA to profitability. But who will make a deal with Maduro either to prop him up or because he is trustworthy? Nobody.

  8. " it is Chavez electorate that is suffering the most. And it is the one that lately seems to start heating up."

    And yet, doesn't over 50%, perhaps 65% of the population still consider themselves Chavistas and Adore El Pajarito Comandante Eterno Supremo?

    I know that only about 6 MILLION people just voted for Madurismo, and that the MUD won the AN, but most Chavistas still "think" that Maduro/Cabello are the problem, and not Chavismo. That's the unlimited wisdom of "el pueblo".

    Will they ever learn?

    Because when the MUD finally topples the Criminal Regime, they will still inherit a Monumental economic and social problem. Things are getting worse in Kleptozuela, as Daniel eloquently depicts here. But they have not hit rock-bottom yet. Not even close. Wait till 2018, when things are 10 x worse, and the MUD is in power. Henry, Capriles, quien sea.

    Do they have a magic formula to solve all these problems in less than a decade? Of course not, especially after they beg the FMI for help and a huge loan. That has strings attached, austerity measures..

    That's when the Majority Chavista populace will start blaming the MUD "Burguesitos", and Worshipping Chavez and Chavismo and Socialismo again even more. You see, "el pueblo" is not that bright, not educated and very forgetful. That's what no one likes to admit. They wanted Chavismo, still Love Chavez, so some of them must be still enjoying "las colas sabrosas". And many of them earned them, for their sheer stupidity. Not all of course.

    Still, you have close to 7 MILLION enchufados, and seemingly, quite a bit of cash to spend in the streets. Despite the alleged "salarios minimos" that don't buy you 3 cups of coffee. Go figure.. But "El Pueblo" is so wise, innocent, incorruptible.. right?

  9. I read that a transition will be coming soon, that the military supports a transition and Maduro out. Just taking a while to negotiate a transition with the opposition that all involved will accept.

    1. The real solution is not Maduro out but the military out and for ever.

  10. I saw on YouTube that the government will be printing larger denominations of money since the Bolivar is now worthless! Anyone else have info on this?

    1. IslandCanuck12:34 PM

      It has been announced that new bills of Bs.500 and Bs.1.000 will be issued but no timetable has been given or even official images of the bills.

    2. But how many $1000 bills is a "minimum salary"? How many for a "canasta basica"? It seems that "el pueblo" is, somehow, much richer than advertised..

  11. I live with my family in the Middle East. We organized a 23KG bag with prescription and over-the-counter medicine to be sent to our families in Venezuela -anything from paracetamol to cancer medicine- (a Venezuelan visiting the country was nice enough to take the bag back to VZL). Buying medicine here is really easy, they sell anything without a prescription. We are thinking of ways in which we can do this systematically, but the "logistics" of the shipping is what is most difficult. Any ideas?

  12. We have couriered (Fedex) medicines from Canada to Venezuela a number of times for my wife's family and everytime they have made it. Maybe we just got lucky.


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