Venezuela

Man-Made Disaster in Venezuela

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The worst humanitarian crisis in modern Venezuelan history is unfolding against the backdrop of a power struggle between President Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

Because Maduro's government has refused to publish basic data, it is virtually impossible to know the full scale of the disaster. But human rights organizations, independent agencies, and journalists on the ground have painted a gruesome picture of a country in economic ruin, with crumbling infrastructure leading to chronic power blackouts and residents unable to meet basic human needs.

Food shortages began in earnest in 2015, when supermarket shelves went empty. Venezuelans reported waiting hours to get the few items available for purchase each day.

While that part of the crisis has lessened in the past year, hyperinflation and the price of food have risen severely. As a result, many Venezuelans face a double bind: Either they cannot find basic staples or they cannot afford them.

In a study published in 2018 by a group of Venezuelan universities, 61 percent of survey respondents said they went to bed hungry on a regular basis, with 89 percent saying they did not have enough money to buy food. Over 60 percent reported having lost weight as a result of food scarcity.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) confirmed in 2018 that the rate of undernourishment in Venezuela has more than doubled, from less than 5 percent between 2008 and 2013 to 11.7 percent between 2015 and 2017.

Putting food on the table is not the only problem Venezuelans face. The most recent and comprehensive report, released by Human Rights Watch, revealed the country's health care system to be in "utter collapse" marked by severe shortages of medicines and health supplies, hospitals without regular access to utilities, and the deterioration of emergency services. The study confirmed numerous reports that outbreaks of once-eliminated vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, diphtheria, and tuberculosis, have resurfaced. Maternal and infant mortality rates have also risen dramatically.

How could it get this bad? While U.S. sanctions imposed in 2017 may have played a role, it was ultimately the Venezuelan government that created the conditions for today's catastrophes.

Back in the mid-2000s, the late President Hugo Chávez had direct access to the highest oil windfalls of any administration in Venezuelan history. He engaged in reckless spending, nationalized and ruined hundreds of private firms, and installed a currency control scheme that distorted the prices of imported goods.

This had grave consequences. By 2017, the FAO found, domestic food production in Venezuela could sustain just 30 percent of the population. The group cited the regime's destruction of the farm industry as one of the main reasons.

As the price of oil declined and money began to run out in 2015, Maduro—Chávez's hand-picked successor—acted to curb food imports at a time when Venezuelans needed them most.

Initially, Maduro denied the existence of a humanitarian crisis. When he could no longer hide the problems, he blamed them on an "economic war" by the United States, which he said was bent on destroying his regime.

For years, Maduro refused to allow aid of any kind into the country, saying it was a foreign intervention disguised as humanitarian assistance. He finally relented in late March, allowing the Red Cross to bring in food and medicine under his strict supervision.

The government's reasons for controlling the flow of aid are sinister. A 2016 investigation by the Associated Press revealed that the reselling of scarce goods has become a means of personal profit for the armed forces. The humanitarian crisis thus plays into the regime's hands: By controlling lucrative food and medicine resources at the ports, Venezuela's military enriches itself and is less likely to heed calls by the opposition to abandon Maduro.

But most poor Venezuelans cannot afford to purchase food at all. Their only hope is in handouts provided by Maduro. According to the 2018 study, 87.5 percent of citizens were receiving government food boxes in 2017. As a result, millions of people are caught in a dependence trap that drastically increases the cost of mobilizing against the current regime.

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  1. Venezuela proving Bernie right. People lining up for food would be a good thing here, supposing there was actual food available at the end. (Apparently, there isn’t.)

    1. You should know by now that it isnt socialism if it fails.

    2. Yeah, Fist of Etiquette. It’s like a lifetime of the free school lunch program in an urban school district.

  2. ”The most recent and comprehensive report, released by Human Rights Watch, revealed the country’s health care system to be in “utter collapse” marked by severe shortages of medicines and health supplies, hospitals without regular access to utilities, and the deterioration of emergency services.”

    Look on the bright side: it’s universal.

    1. … and single-payer!

      1. Some people would say “single payer” sounds a lot like “central point of failure.”

        Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

    2. And free!

  3. And yet, many dems are pushing many of the same programs for this country. I’m looking at you Bernie and AOC.

    1. That could never happen here, though, because reasons and stuff.

      1. Funny how the same people who loathe talk of American Exceptionalism depend on it to make their boneheaded plans work.

    2. What problems in this country might lead to their like being elected? What can we do to prevent such conditions from occurring? If such problems arise, are there available ways of dealing with them that would make the election of socialists less attractive?

    3. Bernie and AOC?
      How about: entirety of the D party and progressives?

      1. All of them are arguments for criminalizing the practice of Marxism.

  4. While the poor are starving, the political class are getting fat. Fat and juicy and well-marbled. Parachute in a few bomber-loads of cases of barbeque sauce and a solution presents itself.

    1. Not really. The political class in Venezuela clearly has Mad Cow Disease.

  5. Wait. So socialism DOESN’T work?

    1. Correct. You win a cookie.
      But it does allow corrupt dictators to enjoy personal power beyond their wildest dreams, and gives them access to national level opportunities for graft and corruption.
      Draw your own conclusions about the democrats in the USA. (
      Hint; a true socialist does not own multiple houses and enjoy million dollar book deals)

      1. “Correct. You win a cookie.”

        Which, if you live under a Socialist regime, may well represent the only calories you’ll see all day. Chew it slowly.

        1. Break it in half so you can eat for two days.

          1. Break it in 12 parts so every family sharing your house gets an equal portion.

            1. Do not worry. The Block Warden will see to it that all sharing,throughout the ward is equitable to all

              Especially to the Block Warden.

              Viva la Revolution, eh, Comrade?

      2. Hint; a true socialist does not own multiple houses and enjoy million dollar book deals

        Not true. Only the wealthy can afford to be socialists.

      3. “Correct. You win a cookie.”

        Chocolate chip?

  6. My real time work with facebook Im making over $2000 a month operating low maint­enance. I continued h­earing distinctive people divulge to me how an lousy lot cash they can make on line so I selected to research it. All topics considered, it become all legitimate and has without a doubt changed my life. For more statistics visit below site

    1. Can you please post this in Spanish for the poor Venezuelan folks who could really use the money?

      Thanks!

  7. The Red Cross and others bring in food by conventional means. Would it be possible to air-drop food? Maybe thousands of MREs with little parachutes dropped over poor areas in cities. Or would they be shot down? (Can Venezuela shoot things down?) Maybe drones would be useful?

    Or has the holiday scrambled my brain?

    1. Not sure – it appears the drone they used to try and kill Maduro even failed. At least they are still able to produce empanadas for him to stuff in his pie hole.

    2. We did that with the seige on Berlin to prove that the Soviets would not win. Reason reports how American farmers cannot find markets for their soy beans thanks to the trade war with China that reunited Vietnam economically with Europe. Theoretically, some libertarians could establish a corporation that buys the soy beans and brings them to Sierra Imataca, a national park on the coast of Venezuela. Once word gets out about the free food and freedom, people would flock there. When they recover from starvation, you can arm them so that they defend the foothold with you and allow a free market economy to develop. Rinse and repeat to bring food to as many people as possible so we save them from starvation. Oh, and it might make sense to make the region politically independent of Venezuela so that the Venezuelan government cannot stop your good work.

      1. In other words: Evil colonialism or a Christian version of the Calephate ISIS wanted to create.

  8. The Koch / Reason solution to poor conditions in Venezuela (or any other country) is to invite the entire population to immigrate to the US. Unfortunately this won’t happen as long as Orange Hitler’s alt-right white nationalist government is in power. But I look forward to the next Democratic President opening our borders in 2021.

  9. Why muddy the water with sanctions? They’re starving to death.

    1. We get it. Its America’s fault. Ignore the major collapse of every industry the chavez/maduro government took over. Keep being ignorant.

      1. You don’t get it and the question makes you uncomfortable.

        1. We you steal property belonging to company from other countries, those countries tend to say FYTW.

        2. No, I do get it. Venezuela is one of the most resource rich per capitalist countries in the world and they are in total collapse. You blame America, I blame the primary people responsible.

          1. Just another reason to criminalize the practice of Marxism here while we still have a country.

        3. OG, everything you believe in is utter failed bullshit, and pure evil. Just admit it, and go drink some Drano with Tony.

    2. Maduro will do enough muddying of the water for everyone.

    3. Exactly which sanctions do you think are responsible for the extreme food shortages and child malnutrition deaths in Venezuela? Let’s hear it.

  10. According to Wikipedia there was economic collapse before Chavez even took office.

    1. America has had a lot of recessions. wonder what’s different….

      You really are that dumb it seems.

      1. America has never had 99% inflation in a year.

        1. Pretty sure the Democrats have a plan to fix that.

        2. You’re hurting your own argument dummy. The inflation is directly tied to the collapse of markets the government took over.

        3. OG
          July.8.2019 at 9:48 am
          “America has never had 99% inflation in a year.”

          Think REAL hard, OG; even a cave man can do it:
          What caused that inflation?

          1. The Venezuelan helium reserve?

    2. It was doing well when Chavez took over. Anyone else remember the TV ads where they were talking about him (via chevron I think) sending heating oil to the NE US? Oil was big business. Several foreign companies were contracted to pump the oil. Then Chavez nationalized the industry and seized the equipment belonging to those companies. The companies pulled out and the oil business went to shit because Chavez no longer had the expertise those companies provided.

      1. ^this

        The nationalizing of international oil company operations, licenses, and property was the key socialist fuck-up that killed the Venezuelan economy.

        But the bright side (for the Green New Dealers) they have moved beyond fossil fuels!

        1. That was one reason, the other was the price of oil. The Saudis, in order to stick it to Iran, introduced more oil into the market to keep the price depressed. This fucked Iran’s economy when they were under US sanctions. The secondary effect was that it also fucked Venezuela’s economy, which was wholly dependent on the price of oil.

          It was a win-win for the US—fuck two annoying countries with one economic push—so there was joy all around. Then fracking put additional pressure on Venezuelan oil exports to the US; further fucking their wholly oil-dependent economy.

          It was a perfect storm, and now they are sucking a lot of ass because of it. It’s something the current regime will never recover from.

          1. Venezuela was a whole lot less dependent on oil before Chavez expropriated thousands of farms and industries, and drove them into the ground. Almost all of them are gone.
            Giving away oil to Cuba which Venezuela STILL does, doesn’t help either.

          2. Thirdly, it fucked Russia too, which is mostly dependent on the price of oil. i mean, who could fucking ask for more?

          3. The price of oil has stayed reasonably high. If Venezuela is dependent on oil being above $100 per barrel, then that is more proof socialism fails, because they were never dependent on such price points when their industry was actually run by oil companies before.

        2. But the bright side (for the Green New Dealers) they have moved beyond fossil fuels!

          The New Green Economy will be driven by pigeon shit. First, you scatter the bread all over the city so that pigeons eat it and shit on the sidewalks. Then … SOCIALIST PARADISE!

      2. It was Citgo (which was wholly owned by the Venezuelan government). Joe Kennedy used to be their spokesman. Basically it was communist propaganda.

        Chevron and Exxon had their properties seized by Chavez.

        1. Citgo, yes that was it. I do remember the commercials on TV with Joe Kennedy.

  11. Obama’s pal Chavez.

    Remember when shitheads like Sean Penn also sucked Chavez ball?

    I ‘member.

    Cue the lefty brigade asking ‘why’ socialism us bad. They want answers and a debate.

    1. Haven’t heard Oenn say too much about Venezuela lately. He should have all his assets seized and be deported there, permanently.

  12. Are they through with the Reason Roundup, or are they short staffed because of the holiday last week?

    #bringbackthePMlinks

    1. They are figuring out a way to tie Epstein to trump without harming the Clinton’s. Gonna be a while.

  13. No, no, no, no, no!

    1. There is no disaster in Venezuela. Everything is great and equal and fair for all happy workers. Any news contradicting this is imperialist propaganda.

    2. The crisis in Venezuela is clear evidence of continuing imperialist oppression against the struggling workers.

    3. Trump did it.

    1. True. This is how you eliminate wealth inequality.

  14. The study confirmed numerous reports that outbreaks of once-eliminated vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, diphtheria, and tuberculosis, have resurfaced. Maternal and infant mortality rates have also risen dramatically.

    This is the difference between having a few anti-vax communities and having a nation without vaccines. In American, over 90% of people are vaccinated, which prevents a contagion from spreading too quickly or getting into the general population. Venezuela is in deep trouble.

    1. On the other hand, the rising mortality rate should help reduce the food shortages.

    2. Venezuela? I thought you were talking about California.

  15. What were the problems that led to Chavez’s being elected originally? It couldn’t be that everything was going fine until then, and all regimes since then have been doing lousy. What really started the whole country on a self-destructive path? Was it an overreaction to something minor?

    1. Hugo had a chat with Bernie. Voila!

    2. Venezuela was an oil economy, and boomed in the high-price 1970s and early 1980s. But then the price of crude oil collapsed in the late 1980s, and hard times followed. The government got an IMF bailout and embarked on economic liberalization in 1989, with unpopular measures that provoked protests that descended into rioting and looting.

      The economy didn’t improve quickly, because oil prices didn’t recover. So there was a coup attempt by Chavez in 1992 that made him a celebrity, followed by another coup attempt that tried to get him out of jail, followed by the 1994 election of someone who promised to pardon Chavez.

      And in 1998, the year where oil prices hit their inflation-adjusted lowest levels in all of human history, Chavez was elected.

      1. The smart money would have been on executing the fucker. Which should be a lesson to us here. Execute the socialists.

    1. The summary:

      “There isn’t an issue here with food distribution or food scarcity,” Blumenthal concludes. “The issue is the buying power of Venezuelans has been completely destroyed because their currency has been so badly weakened by hyperinflation, speculation and the flood of dollars that the government can’t control here, as well as hoarding by private capitalist elements that support the opposition.”

      Kulaks, wreckers, hoarders, capitalism. There’s your culprit.

      1. No progressive is ever accountable for anything ever. Period.

  16. Really sad.

    What makes even worse is that the people and companies who left were a lot of the more educated and successful. You get stuck without the talent to fix the power grid or start a successful business.

    1. Obviously they need to open their borders.

      1. Like the communists did in Berlin?

        Even Bernie Sanders knows you can’t have open borders, right?

  17. Venezuela’s economy is on the way to America, thanks to AOC/Eva Cortez.

  18. Reason has to import their female journos of color?

  19. Maybe someday enough socialist countries will collapse that people will learn their lesson…

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