Venezuela

Protests, Arrests, Explosions, Venezuela Boiling Over? How Long Would You Wait in Line for Diapers if You Weren't a Government Spokesperson?

An increasingly dire economic situation caused by Venezuela's socialist government is leading to renewed protests

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Food Minister
NTN24

Oil prices have tumbled in recent weeks.  It sent Venezuela's president, Nicolas Maduro, to Riyadh to beg Saudi Arabia and other members of OPEC to cut production and bring prices back up. As the Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal explained "had Saudi Arabia cut its production by 1 or 2 million barrels, that 1 or 2 million would have been produced by others." Prices are going down despite OPEC, not because of it, so Maduro is unlikely to find relief there. Relief he needs because his government's socialist chavista polices have caused shortages of everything from potatoes to toilet paper. Petrol revenue once oiled the machinery of the government, providing it the money needed to keep people from feeling the ill effects of the government's economic interventionism. Hugo Chavez's charisma probably helped too.

Food Minister Yván Bello Rojas explains what the real problem in Venezuela is, via Business Insider:

"I've been in tons of lines. I went to my favorite sports team's game this weekend, and I had to get in line to get a parking space. I got in line to buy my ticket. And then … I made a line to get into the stadium. And you know what, I made a line to find my seat. And then you know what," Bello finished with satisfaction, "I went to go buy an arepa [Venezuelan sandwich] … and I had to wait in line there, too."

Reporter Ana Vanessa Herrero then asked him about a woman she'd recently interviewed who was looking for diapers for two days and couldn't find them.

"She's exaggerating," he said, "no one would wait in line for six days for anything," he added, interrupting the chorus of reporters throwing out anecdotes to the contrary.

Earlier in the seven-minute interview Bello explained the shortage problem was not due to an unbalanced Venezuelan economy manipulated by government price regulation and bloated by government spending, but due to issues with distribution.

"The same people can't just go and buy the same products every day," Rojas said matter-of-factly, adding that one person couldn't possibly buy one gallon of milk per day, for example, even if they had the money to do it. "More than anything [the shortage] is a distribution problem because if any government has done their homework on food, it's this Bolivaran government."

The problem is with centralization, a feature of Bolivarian and all other forms of command economy. The "critics are exagerrating" defense sounds familiar.

The self-inflicted economic crisis has led to renewed protests. Reuters reports:

Police rounded up 16 people for protesting in front of stores over the weekend, according to the opposition MUD coalition, which said four of them were released shortly after.

Rights group Penal Forum said 18 protesters were still behind bars on Monday. The government did not confirm that…

The MUD also accused soldiers posted outside shops of banning photos of the lines, which sometimes snake around blocks.

"Not only is the government forcing people to get into humiliating queues … it also wants the lines to be Cuban-style, silent and terrified," said MUD chief Jesus Torrealba.

On Saturday, an explosive device was thrown into a building of the state phone company Cantv in southeastern Puerto Ordaz city, burning eight vehicles, the government said. In western San Cristobal, six masked men threw a molotov cocktail into a parked bus belonging to a local university, students said on Monday.

Venezuela's nominally democratic government is likely to use reports of violence to try to silence the wider opposition to its destructive policies, having seen a period of extended, mass protests early last year.

NEXT: 'Higher Profile' at Paris Rally Would Have Been Wise Admits White House, More Democrats May Exit Senate, Oil Prices Tumble: P.M. Links

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  1. “It sent Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, to Riyadh to beg Saudi Arabia and other members of OPEC to cut production and bring prices back up.”

    Well, this won’t help! Lefties swear supply and demand have no effect on prices; they’re set by evulllll KKKapitlaists!

  2. Inevitable. I’m just surprised they’d allow media to ask questions at all.

    Years ago there was an article about libraries in Venezuela delivering books via burro to rural areas. I noted that’s what the US did during the great depression. So, at that time they were only about 70 years behind us. Now it’s got to be 150- easy.

    Let’s hope there’s something to rebuild from the ashes and as few people die as possible in the ensuing struggles.

    1. Inevitable. Exactly.

  3. I love it.

  4. Reporter Ana Vanessa Herrero then asked him about a woman she’d recently interviewed who was looking for diapers for two days and couldn’t find them.

    “She’s exaggerating,” he said, “no one would wait in line for six days for anything,” he added, interrupting the chorus of reporters throwing out anecdotes to the contrary.

    Couldn’t they at least find a competent shill?

    1. two days is the same as six days, apparently.

      1. Stop using your corrupt, capitalist math!

  5. I’d stand in line to look at Yv?n Bello Rojas hanging from a lamppost.

    1. The fact that there are any Chavista officials left unhanged is all the evidence one needs that Venezuelans are idiots.

      1. As has been said, there’s never an “a-ha” moment.

      2. That, and Venezuelans are unarmed.

  6. “The same people can’t just go and buy the same products every day,” Rojas said matter-of-factly, adding that one person couldn’t possibly buy one gallon of milk per day, for example, even if they had the money to do it.

    I love how he pretty much admits that Venezuelans are too broke to afford however much a gallon of milk costs there each day, be it due to lousy income or outrageous inflation. Pretty entertaining guy as far as TOP MEN are concerned. Baghdad Bob quality even.

    1. one person couldn’t possibly buy one gallon of milk per day, for example, even if they had the money to do it.

      Most people in most of the non-socialist world can, both from an availability standpoint, and from being able to afford it.

  7. Such beautiful women; such ugly governance.

  8. “nominally democratic”?

    This is what joe says democracy is like!

    Its a shining example of democracy in action!

    1. This is why Joe left… playing defense sucks.

  9. The problem is with centralization, a feature of Bolivarian and all other forms of command economy.

    We need to keep things in perspective and examine what the true root causes of the current crisis in Venezuela are.

    The people of Venezuela should be allowed to freely express their indignation in public without fear of repression. But it bears emphasizing in this respect that at least two of the protesters’ main grievances have been deliberately escalated by the oligarchic elite itself: through extensive hoarding and smuggling of consumer products (giving rise to shortages and fueling price inflation) and massive speculation on the foreign currency market (pushing down the Bol?var and feeding into further inflation).

    1. The author is laughably wrong with his hysteria regarding centralization.

      Since 2004, when the government gained control over the oil industry and the economy had recovered from the devastating, extra-legal attempts to overthrow it (including the 2002 US-backed military coup and oil strike of 2002-2003), poverty has been cut in half and extreme poverty by 70%. And this measures only cash income. Millions have access to healthcare for the first time, and college enrolment has doubled, with free tuition for many students. Inequality has also been considerably reduced. By contrast, the two decades that preceded Ch?vez amount to one of the worst economic failures in Latin America, with real income per person actually falling by 14% between 1980 and 1998.

      1. Wow, a real, live Bolivarian Apologist!

        Seldom seen outside captivity!

        1. Swiss Servator, Winter…jetzt|1.12.15 @ 6:33PM|#

          Wow, a real, live Bolivarian Apologist!

          Seldom seen outside captivity!

          So you refute the facts I brought to the table by calling me crazy. Poverty cut in half and extreme poverty cut by 70%. This is just a pathetic attempt at discrediting the poster and ignoring the post. We understand and were expecting this because we know you can’t refute the successes of the Venezuelan government

          1. So people were “lifted out of poverty”, but basic necessities of modern life, things that are practically dime a dozen everywhere else in the world cannot be found on any shelves.

            I don’t think you understand what the word “poverty” means.

            1. kbolino|1.12.15 @ 6:49PM|#

              So people were “lifted out of poverty”, but basic necessities of modern life, things that are practically dime a dozen everywhere else in the world cannot be found on any shelves.

              FTA:

              Reporter Ana Vanessa Herrero then asked him about a woman she’d recently interviewed who was looking for diapers for two days and couldn’t find them.

              “She’s exaggerating,” he [Food Minister Yv?n Bello Rojas] said…

              The media lies and exaggerates. Also, I already identified the most significant source of the problem: grievances have been deliberately escalated by the oligarchic elite itself…

              1. Who needs a politburo with apologists like you?

              2. You’re disgusting “blimp”. It won’t be a shadowy, “oligarchic elite” that are dangling from posts when the Venezuelan people are done being hungry and going without the basics of civilization. It will be the chavistas and authoritarian boot-lickers like yourself getting their necks stretched. I only hope it happens sooner than later, for Venezuela’s sake.

                1. Horatio|1.12.15 @ 7:18PM|#

                  it won’t be a shadowy, “oligarchic elite” that are dangling from posts when the Venezuelan people are done being hungry and going without the basics of civilization. It will be the chavistas and authoritarian boot-lickers like yourself getting their necks stretched.

                  I disagree. You may think that but that is because you believe the lies perpetuated by the press.

                  Protests are initiated by ultra-right factions of the opposition in the hope of an eventual systemic overhaul.

                  The opposition cites insecurity, food shortages, and inflation as factors driving the protests.

                  However, pinning the blame for all of Venezuela’s ills on chavismo – the left-wing political ideology developed by Chavez and continued by Maduro – is transparently disingenuous. Or rather, it would be transparently disingenuous if the dominant international media were not intent on parroting opposition propaganda.

                  1. By your meaningless definition, the Socialist Party of France would be “ultra-right”. Apparently, it is “ultra-right” to want to find diapers for your child or to watch a TV station that isn’t forced to fellate Chavez’s corpse all day long.

                    Yeah, it’s “disingenuous” to point out the complete and utter destruction of the Venezuelan economy that has happened since Chavez turned the country into a petro-socialist backwater.

                  2. Yeah, the people are just unhappy because the bad, bad press told them to be. It can’t be that the people know the situation from personal experience and are unhappy with the government over that situation. Certainly not!

                    Another socialist dictatorship fails but the socialist apologizers claim it’s all right-wing propaganda.

    2. Ah, “hoarders, kulaks and wreckers”!

      Where have we heard that one before…?

    3. This is just the continuation of America’s foreign policy: Hostile intervention intended to serve the interest of their true masters.

      From the first link:

      3. Venezuela’s opposition receives active support from the United States. While there is no evidence that the ongoing protests have been directly machinated by the White House or the CIA, it is publicly known that leading Venezuelan opposition groups receive millions of dollars in financial support from the US government and US-based NGOs and think tanks. In 2008, a leader of Venezuela’s student movement ? which organized similar anti-Ch?vez protests back in 2007 ? won the $500.000 Milton Friedman Award from the right-libertarian CATO Institute, which is funded by major corporate sponsors like the Koch Brothers and the Ford Foundation, headed by an “ardent devotee” of Ayn Rand, and driven by a zealous mission to defend “the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace.”

      1. right-libertarian CATO Institute

        Well, that about sums up the accuracy of the rest, I’m sure.

      2. Holy shit, thats like a parody of leftist apologists. It is the same every time.

        Socialism runs out of other peoples money ( I love how they always run out of toilet paper). Productive people flee to elsewhere. Defenders blame wreckers, hoarders, foreign devils, and kulaks. Defenders tell everyone things are actually better than they were before. Lastly, things descend into a hellish nightmare wherein the commies are dragged through the street and hanged.

        With the economy in shambles and suffering from a brain-drain, how long before Venezuela agains resembles anything like a second-world country?

        I especially like this bit – “While there is no evidence……it is publicly known that……”

        Priceless.

        1. Suthenboy|1.12.15 @ 6:57PM|#

          Socialism runs out of other peoples money

          You got this backwards.

          This paper looks at some of the most important economic and social indicators during the 10 years of the Ch?vez administration in Venezuela

          The current economic expansion began when the government got control over the national oil company in the first quarter of 2003. Since then, real (inflation-adjusted) GDP has nearly doubled, growing by 94.7 percent in 5.25 years, or 13.5 percent annually.
          ? Most of this growth has been in the non-oil sector of the economy, and the private sector has grown faster than the public sector.
          ? During the current economic expansion, the poverty rate has been cut by more than half, from 54 percent of households in the first half of 2003 to 26 percent at the end of 2008.
          Extreme poverty has fallen even more, by 72 percent. These poverty rates measure only cash income, and do not take into account increased access to health care or education.
          ? Over the entire decade, the percentage of households in poverty has been reduced by 39 percent, and extreme poverty by more than half.
          ? Inequality, as measured by the Gini index, has also fallen substantially. The index has fallen to 41 in 2008, from 48.1 in 2003 and 47 in 1999. This represents a large reduction in
          inequality.

          1. cont

            Real (inflation-adjusted) social spending per person more than tripled from 1998-2006.
            ? From 1998-2006, infant mortality has fallen by more than one-third. The number of primary care physicians in the public sector increased 12-fold from 1999-2007, providing health care to millions of Venezuelans who previously did not have access.
            ? There have been substantial gains in education, especially higher education, where gross enrollment rates more than doubled from 1999-2000 to 2007-2008.
            ? The labor market also improved substantially over the last decade, with unemployment dropping from 11.3 percent to 7.8 percent. During the current expansion it has fallen by more than half. Other labor market indicators also show substantial gains.
            ? Over the past decade, the number of social security beneficiaries has more than doubled.
            ? Over the decade, the government’s total public debt has fallen from 30.7 to 14.3 percent of GDP. The foreign public debt has fallen even more, from 25.6 to 9.8 percent of GDP.
            ? Inflation is about where it was 10 years ago, ending the year at 31.4 percent. However it has been falling over the last half year (as measured by three-month averages) and is likely to continue declining this year in the face of strong deflationary pressures worldwide.

          2. “The current economic expansion began when the government got control over the national oil company in the first quarter of 2003”

            Now mothers can’t get diapers. Nothing to do with oil, right? I’m all for avoiding the causation/correlation trap, but this one is so clear even a socialist apologist can stop sucking chavista taint for 2 seconds and figure it out.

            1. Horatio|1.12.15 @ 7:23PM|#

              Nothing to do with oil, right?

              You are forgetting something:

              Most of this growth has been in the non-oil sector of the economy, and the private sector has grown faster than the public sector.

              1. What private sector? The government can and will confiscate “excess” capital on a whim. Furthermore, much of that “growth” was fueled by high government spending, which has driven inflation through the roof.

          3. Poverty reduction under Chavez was about on a par with the rest of South America and was comparable to similar periods of high oil prices under other governments. In 2014 the Venezuelan economy actually CONTRACTED, and Venezuela is one of the few countries in the region where poverty is on the rise. Newsflash: rigid price controls create scarcity. This is not rocket science, nor is it a vast conspiracy by the international capitalist oligarchy. It’s something economists have known for centuries, yet somehow the concept is lost on the bus driver and borderline retard currently running things in Venezuela (and on his starry-eyed online apologists, apparently). But keep that cherry-picked data coming. The skyrocketing inflation, jailing and torture of dissidents and everything else are just a figment of our imagination induced by the international (read non-Bolivarian-funded) media.

        2. Suthenboy|1.12.15 @ 6:57PM|#

          Holy shit, thats like a parody of leftist apologists. It is the same every time.

          You know what really is the same every time for libertarians. Ignoring all the facts I just posted and making personal attacks against anyone who goes against dogma and shows the flaws of your ideology.

          1. What facts? Half the country’s dependent on the government and the other half is running out of money to pay for it?

            You don’t have anything to say on the shortages, except to call people who can’t find diapers for their children liars and to post meaningless statistics.

            The country’s inflation is over 50% which is rapidly erasing whatever GDP gains happened over the last decade.

            Venezuela basically exports nothing but oil. The country is being deforested at a rate of over 2 million hectares per decade. There’s no foreign investment (apart from Cuba) because investors have no confidence that their capital won’t be confiscated by the government.

            Yeah, it’s a goddamn paradise and we libertarians just can’t handle it.

          2. People starving, unable to obtain basic necessities, being hauled off to gulags for disagreeing with the state, and – most tellingly – fleeing in droves for countries with less socialism starkly show the flaws in YOUR ideology.

            How many times does marxism and socialism have to end in the tears and death of the proletariat before you apologists can feel shame? When authoritarian cunts like you are treated with even half the disdain directed towards racists the world will be a much better place.

  10. Jesus Torrealba.

    What, not “The Prophet Jesus Torrealba?”

    Too soon?

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