Drinking Water Shortage in Venezuela


angel falls
Paulo Capiotti/flickr

Hugo Chavez, once a darling of the Hollywood left, tried to transform Venezuela into a socialist paradise using chavismo, a Chavez-centered "top men" kind of socialism and nationalism while its president from 1999 to 2013. Less than fifteen months after his death, his successor, Nicolas Maduro, has revealed just how much star power and personality can mask failure.

Bloomberg reports on the oil-rich country's latest shortage:

Residents of the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, who already struggle to find toilet paper and deodorant, are facing a new shortage — drinking water. 

The rationing of tap water amid a drought and a shortage of bottles because of currency controls are forcing people to form long lines at grocery stores and bottle shops as soon as deliveries are made. Truck drivers spend much of their day outside water dispatch centers as they try to meet demand.

As the economy he and his government are trying to control with a stranglehold collapses around them, Maduro claims his opponents are trying to kill him, an attempt to shore up support for his leadership. Such a tactic was common under Chavez as well. As Juan Nagel at Caracas Chronicles explains:

When Hugo Chávez was alive, every time there were tiffs or differences inside the government, out came the wild accusations of "magnicidio" to stir the pot. By driving a wedge between "they" (the assassins, which I guess includes all of us) and "us" (the revolutionaries), the government thinks it can consolidate its own factions. They seem to be saying "look, we may be incompetent crooks who are destroying the country, but they are worse than us … they want to kill us!"

It's a cheap ploy, and it won't work. In the face of unstoppable inflation, straws seem to be the only thing the government has to grasp on to.

The worst part is that some chavistas will fall for this. They have lost the capacity to ask themselves why the government claims an assassination has been thwarted and yet nobody is in prison.

The ability of central planning to turn abundance (Venezuela is water-rich, too) into scarcity is unrivaled, despite claims by its advocates that actually allowing suppliers and consumers to buy and sell in free markets ("capitalism") is the true culprit. Yet the leaders of planned economies can often rely on this delusion, and the emotional reactions they can elicit by demonizing capitalism and their opponents, to deny economic reality.

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  1. I got you in a stranglehold, baby
    You better trust your fate

  2. Command economies have proven time and again to work perfectly, so there’s definitely something else causing this shortage. I’m sure this is America’s fault somehow. Probably George W. Bush.

    1. I blame American capitalists, thus covering the two worst things in human history, America and capitalism. American capitalists must be tampering with the Venezuelan water supply to further their evil Americal capitalist ends. Somehow.

      1. Just blame climate change. It’s complex nature allows you to point just one finger at one problem and impugn capitalism and Westernization wherever it may be while simultaneously promoting the socialism that underlies any actual problems you may be facing.

    2. It’ll work this time, Hugh. You’re just not wishing hard enough. In fact, if it fails, it’s entirely your fault.

      1. You sound just like Kathleen Sebelius.

        1. Hugh’s on to me!

    3. It’s a CIA orchestrated plot. They got all the bottle-makers to agree to stop making sufficient numbers of bottles.

      1. If you read the Guardian, this is not far from the average commenter POV =


        27 May 2014 4:34pm

        You keep wishing away, the upper class colonialists in Venezuela, Jared Leto’s “dreamers” are not about to overthrow Maduro’s popularly elected government no matter how much money is and favourable western press is thrown at them.

        The native and poor people of Venezuela back the Maduro government, and I’d imagine the Cuban’s who are licking their lips at the prospect of Cuban’s starving all live in Miami.

        When the impact of diminishing global output of fossil fuels really starts to take effect on western countries you’ll see the wisdom behind Cuba’s model of sustainable development, endless growth is an impossibility.

        Cuba’s “special period” is a glimpse into the future of western countries, and you can bet we won’t fare so well.

        Venezuela’s “dreamers” are the enemies of humanity, they and their ilk are those who will bring poverty, starvation and misery to your children, as are the hacks in the liberal media who write vicious trash like this article.”

        Mark Wiesbrot is the guy there who writes the most insane pro-chavista garbage

        a la This kind of thing

        The funny part is how they have to ‘moderate’ the actual Venezuelan commenters in order to make room for the British socialists

        1. Cuba’s model of sustainable development, endless growth is an impossibility.

          Sustainable development = cars built 60 years ago
          Endless growth = the masses are actually fed

        2. Exactly. I don’t even have to read the comments on the Guardian to know exactly what they are going to think about any issue.

          They are that fucking predictable.

          Chalk this up to libertarians being more able to simulate progressives than vice versa.

  3. Had he lived, there was no way even Chavez could have continued his sleight of hand much longer.

    1. Sean Penn is towing icebergs to Venezuela, as we speak.

      1. He’s not towing icebergs. He’s attaching a Salvage-1 rocket engine to an iceberg and attempting to steer it there. But then the cables…

        1. That’s the best thing I’ve seen since, well, ever!

        2. Those fucking capitalists and their cut-rate cables!

          1. Just like them to waste money using all the extra stakes and cables to keep the rocket from going backwards!

  4. There are two things in plentiful supply there:
    1) Government
    2) Stupidity

    1. We have a surplus of those things all over the globe.

      1. With the obvious exception of the libertarian utopia, Somalia.

    2. I’m sorry-I thought you were going to list two things.

  5. They have lost the capacity to ask themselves why the government claims an assassination has been thwarted and yet nobody is in prison.

    Good thing we don’t have that problem in this country. We have no problem putting people into prison for fake crimes.

    1. Of course. We just use FBI informants and agents to radicalize mentally disabled guys in mosques, give them fake bombs, and then arrest them and charge them with terrorism! This way, our government can say it’s doing a great job at fighting terrorism! ONWARD TO VICTORY!

  6. Paging Joe, from Lowell. Please pick up the white courtesy phone. Joe, from Lowell.

    1. joe’s somewhere else, doing God’s work in the toughest corners of the internet.

      1. Hey go easy on joe. He comes from a long line of sniveling boot-lickers. He’s just carrying on family tradition.

      2. So Joe has never come back to H&R?

    2. There is a white courtesy phone shortage in Lowell.

      1. CHECK YOUR PHONE PRIV….wait a minute.

      2. Too bad they don’t have any smart city planners who could have designated locations for more white courtesy phones.

  7. Given the three options available to Venezuela:

    (1) Permanent poverty under a totalitarian regime for decades to come, a la Cuba.

    (2) Relatively peaceful counter-revolution.

    (3) Vicious bloodbath/civil war.

    What are the odds of each?

    1. (1) 0%
      (2) 0%
      (3) 100%

    2. Too many retards in ‘communes’ and armed pro-Chavista militias for number 2. It has to be number 3 the sooner the better.

    3. It’s Latin America. I’d say (3) followed immediately by (1) for the win.

      1. 3 does not need to be followed by one. Honduras; Contras. In Venezuela there is a strong possibility of a coup within the Chavista ranks. Ooohh 3-way civil war FTW!

      2. On the upside, some latin american writer will probably win the Nobel prize for his novel showing how all of this was to be expected.

  8. Maduro claims his opponents are trying to kill him,

    They better be.

  9. “What would happen if the desert became communist? Nothing for a while, and then there would be a sand shortage.”

    1. I was going to post this.

      Looks like we have a real world example of what RR was talking about.


    1. Mujeres?

    2. Veo lo que usted hizo all

  11. The ‘awesome healthcare’ Venezuela has apparently isn’t so awesome. Hospitals are out of supplies so amputations are WAY up because that’s all they can do. Those shitty Cuban ‘doctors’ aren’t helping much.

    Without clear drinking water, there will be a public health crisis. If that eats into the oil sector’s productivity there could be a domino effect.

    1. We already have many of the smart Venezuelans stateside. Chavez generated a powerful brain drain.

  12. Putting aside the concept of bottled water, how exactly is the Venezuelan management of their water delivery infrastructure different from ours? Even our “outsourcing” of water management, what little we have, is still to state regulated monopolies.

    1. I’m not exactly versed in this particular subject but there are possible factors at work here. The government has clamped down on the use of dollars, crimping supplies of vital supplies. There could be a shortage of bottles or of the products needed to process the water before bottling.

      1. There are also price controls on bottled water.

      2. It’s the tap, and not bottles, that’s the fundamental delivery method of water delivery for about 2,000 years. And that’s almost always managed via top men. We can disparage that, but it’s hard to see how Venezuela’s top men solution is fundamentally different from ours.

        1. Due to the currency controls, I would guess a shortage of spare parts and chemicals for maintaining the infrastructure.

        2. 2000 months maybe. Most people schlep a pail to a well.

          Jack and Jill were so stupid they went UP a hill. We might have to come up with some new stupidity for Venzuela.

  13. Maduro claims his opponents are trying to kill him, an attempt to shore up support for his leadership. Such a tactic was common under Chavez Stalin as well.

    Fixed that for you. The sad thing is, what we know about Maduro is that he’s a thin-skinned, incompetent coward. And the more thin-skinned, incompetent, and cowardly the strongman, the more people he’ll be willing to “sacrifice” to save his little fiefdom.

  14. What? It’s just sabotage by evil capitalists.
    Those bottle makers are sinisterly refusing to make bottles in order to squeeze the regime by fomenting social unrest.

    This is what evil capitalists always do whenever socialism is attempted. They refuse to cooperate by producing goods at the desired price.

    If only they would give up their evil profits and coorperate with the people!

  15. Is it just me, or is the shelf life on socialism shorter than it used to be?

    1. It’s shorter on all kinds of statism especially socialism. The world is too interconnected. Capital walks fast and hard and so can people. If it leaves, you can’t steal/enslave it. And that means socialism dies faster. See also, Stelmach’s royalty ‘reform’ in Alberta.

      1. “Any of you fucking pricks move, and I’ll execute every mother fucking last one of you!”

      2. Belarus’ TOP MAN is sure trying to enslave……..dom-2014-5

        How do you say adscriptus glebae in Russian?

        1. Not allowed to comment in Russian (and/or Cyrillic), so find it here.

          1. Crap. Naznachenyi komkov.

      3. Which explains FATCA and the capital controls coming to America.

        They only called it FATCA(t) because they couldn’t make an acronym from CLASSENEMY.

  16. they are worse than us ? they want to kill us!

    We, on the other hand, just want to kill you!




  18. a Chavez-centered “top men” kind of socialism and nationalism

    You know who else engaged in a Top Man mix of socialism and nationalism?

    1. The Organizacja Bojowa Polskiej Partii Socjalistycznej?

  19. You know who else implemented a “‘top men’ kind of socialism and nationalism”?

    1. Gott damn it, Dances!

      1. I’m sure Ted S. will be along shortly to post the same gag.

      2. I just couldn’t believe it took more than 30 comments for someone to hit that softball.

    2. FDR?

    3. The United Federation of Planets?

        1. Dork.

        2. What difference, at this point, does it make?

  20. The protestors are not a hotbed of laissez-faire economic sentiment.

  21. So this is what equality and social justice looks like in reality. Nice.

    1. You can’t get water, I can’t get water. How much more equal can you get?

  22. “They seem to be saying “look, we may be incompetent crooks who are destroying the country, but they are worse than us ? they want to kill us!”

    It works that way in the United States, too. Except when the Obamabots do it, they say, “We may be incompetent crooks who are destroying the country, but they are worse than us–they hate gay people” or something like that.

    1. War on women!

  23. CLAP HARDER. It’s bound to work eventually.

  24. Funny thing about Venezuela is that it was one of the richer countries in Latin America for a long time. Very few countries could compare in terms of economic wealth; Chile, Costa Rica and Argentina were probably the only two countries better off than Venezuela in terms of quality of life.

    Today, it is one of the worse-off countries outside of real basketcases like Bolivia or Guatemala. While countries like Peru, Panama, and Mexico have shot past Venezuela, Venezuela has actually regressed. Meanwhile, the leftists over here egg on the regime gunning down its own citizens…

  25. Once a darling of the Hollywood Left?

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