MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Venezuela's Latest Response to Food Shortages: Ban Lines Outside Bakeries

Maduro's government claims the lines are a calculated political attempt to stir up "anxiety."

Bread lines, anxiety-inducing or a good thing?Gmeviphoto/Dreamstime.comThe tragedy of Venezuela continues unabated, but that doesn't mean the government of President Nicolás Maduro has stopped trying to fix problems like the devastating scarcity of food which has led to malnutrition, riots, food truck hijackings, vigilante lynchings of petty thieves, and the starvation of zoo animals.

No, Maduro hasn't admitted the failure of Chavismo — the brand of Bolivarian socialism imposed on the oil-rich country by his late predecessor Hugo Chavez — instead, Venezuela's embattled leader has launched a war on "anxiety."

The National Superintendency of Fair Prices has reportedly instituted a policy of fining bakeries that allow lines to stretch out their front doors, according to PanAmPost. The head of this particular bureaucracy, William Contreras, claims the lines aren't a true indicator of a severe shortage of bread, but rather, a political "strategy of generating anxiety."

Contreras claims there is no shortage of raw materials to make bread, but seems to not understand that bakeries just bake bread, they don't process the different kinds of wheat used to make the flour that's then used to make bread. But this is indicative of the magical thinking of Venezuela's socialist government: the breakdown of the economy couldn't possibly because of failed economic policy, and scarcity must be the result of a greater conspiracy.

Contreras was also quoted by El Tiempo as saying the long lines represented "fairly clear political intentions and purposes" such as "destabilizing the economy and break[ing] the morale of the people." This is in keeping with Maduro's deflection of the blame he deserves for destroying Venezuela's economy, which he puts at the feet of U.S.-backed agitators engaging in "economic war" by keeping things like toilet paper off supermarket shelves.

Even in a time of crisis when infants are dying in electricity-deprived hospitals, Maduro insisted on putting on a brave face and keeping with his government's practice of lavishly asinine spending by dropping over $400,000 on a week of celebrating the 90th birthday of the president of another impoverished Latin socialist nation — Fidel Castro.

This whole battle over both the cause and greater meaning of long lines at bakeries must come as a shock to former presidential candidate and noted democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, who once argued that bread lines in socialist or communist countries were a "good thing" because they proved that everyone is suffering equally.

Meanwhile, a major rally by the Venezuelan opposition which is calling for Maduro's recall is scheduled in Caracas for September 1. 80 percent of the Venezuelan people reportedly want Maduro to be removed from office.

Photo Credit: Gmeviphoto/Dreamstime.com

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Hmm, I thought that a good bread line was a show of a country's economic might. Maduro is losing it. Anyway, how are there any bread lines when all the comrades are working the fields out in the country side?

  • WTF||

    Bread lines are good because otherwise the rich people would get all the bread.
    Anyway, why doesn't Maduro just ban food shortages? Jesus, do I have to think of everything?

  • Microaggressor||

    No, no, no. There are bread lines because in glorious socialist Venezuela, bread tastes so good people can't get enough of it!

  • ||

    Well, you know how like here in the USA there's a sale and everyone runs to the store to get something on sale? In the glorious revolution, everything is on sale all of the time!

  • timbo||

    The only thing that might come from Venezuela's plight is a good old fashion hanging of a dictator in the streets.

    He might be upside down Mussolini style worthy.

    We kind of need one of those around here just to keep our scumbag pols in check.

    See you in 20 minutes SWAT.

  • Paloma||

    Honestly, I wouldn't put it past Maduro to come up with those reasons.

  • steedamike||

    Maybe there are lots of hurricanes there...

  • WTF||

    Welcome to Retardation: A Celebration. Now, hopefully, I'm gonna dispel a few myths, a few rumors. First off, the retarded don't rule the night. They don't rule it. Nobody does. And they don't run in packs. And while they may not be as strong as apes, don't lock eyes with 'em, don't do it. Puts 'em on edge. They might go into berzerker mode; come at you like a whirling dervish, all fists and elbows. You might be screaming "No, no, no" and all they hear is "Who wants cake?" Let me tell you something: They all do. They all want cake.

  • Jimbo||

    He has 24 different types of deodorant in his bathroom?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    He has 24 different types of Eastern European models in his bedroom?

  • The Last American Hero||

    I'm pretty sure a fair number of well-connected Party Members in the old Soviet days had bedrooms full of attractive Eastern European women.

  • Jimbo||

    I'll buy that for a dollar!

  • Mindyourbusiness||

    Pictures?

  • Lee Genes||

    Bernie Sanders hardest hit.

  • Lee Genes||

    I guess I should RTFA before I comment.

  • Jimbo||

    Caught you!

  • Brian||

    Why don't they just ban shortages and get on with it?

  • ||

    I thought they already did that.

  • Lee Genes||

    It really is amazing how Venezuela is fulfilling every stereotype of a failing socialist state.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Failing socialist states tend to do that.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Sure, you right wingnuts always pointing to the country that's not REAL socialism, like Sweden and Denmark that's real socialism and like 1000 times better than the United States!

  • Locris||

    and you a replying from one of the two?
    just checking.

  • Lord at War||

    Locris-

    Calibrate your sarcasm detector- they wear out fast around here... :o)

  • timbo||

    They also get a lot of help from this:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/.....-just-over

  • WTF||

    But according to the leftists Venezuela isn't real socialism anymore.

  • ||

    It stopped being real socialism right after they ran out of other people's money. I mean, there's a first time for everything, right?

  • WTF||

    It would have worked this time if not for the wreckers, hoarders, and kulaks!

  • Chipper-Shredder 2016||

    And those kids and their dog!

  • Zeb||

    That was my first thought too. Are they trying to look as stupid as possible just to see how far they can push their shit without losing the support of the useful idiots?

  • timbo||

    This is classic apparatchik desperation to hold onto their power. Can you imagine how nervous the bureaucratic elite are when Moduro says this stuff. They will be the first ones marched to the gallows. Moduro will just get on a plane and live in exile.

  • MarkLastname||

    Vermont ready to offer asylum.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    I heard today that anyone who signed a recall petition will be fired from their government jobs - because you can't have people who are against the government working for the government. That's just sabotage.

  • WTF||

    That's because you're retarded.

  • WTF||

    Dreams are a great thing, but you know something? They take a lot of energy. But that's OK. There's a job waiting for you down the block from your house that doesn't require a thought in your head or a hope in your heart. So come on down and work for the artificial flower factory. Why fight it? OK? Thank you.

  • JWatts||

    It takes some major level derp to try and connect Trump with Venezeulan socialism.

  • Swiss Servator||

    And shriek is just the one to deliver!

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It's amazing how a small drop in oil prices has resulted in such a market failure.

    In other news, those dirty Republicans are just trying to stand in the way of History.

  • ||

    Because the US gave Chavez cancer and then turned all the fracking machines on high to drive oil prices to record lows just so that the greatest socialist revolution of all time would fail.

  • timbo||

    Notice that most news report only discuss the falling oil economy as the problem. most American news outlets entirely ignore the opportunity to discuss failed Marxists crap. I trust that is what you were alluding to.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    The high oil prices subsidized, and thus hid, the failures of their system. Now those failures are unmasked.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Oh, and speaking of the fucking bottomless capacity for denial among leftist douchebags, Obamacare has merely hit a "bump".

  • Juvenile Bluster||

    But it would be quite easy to fix the system. It seems clear that subsidies for purchasing insurance, and in some cases for insurers themselves, should be somewhat bigger — an affordable proposition given that the program so far has come in under budget, and easily justified now that we know just how badly many of our fellow citizens needed coverage. There should also be a reinforced effort to ensure that healthy Americans buy insurance, as the law requires, rather than them waiting until they get sick. Such measures would go a long way toward getting things back on track.

    Beyond all that, what about the public option?

    The idea of allowing the government to offer a health plan directly to families was blocked in 2010 because private insurers didn't want to face the competition. But if those insurers aren't actually interested in providing insurance, why not let the government step in (as Hillary Clinton is in fact proposing)?

    Does a single sentence of that bear any resemblance to the truth?

  • ||

    No. There has never been anything anyone on the left has ever said about the law that is remotely close to the truth.

  • Lee Genes||

    But if those insurers aren't actually interested in providing insurance

    What a lousy piece of shit Krugman is. They're certainly interested in providing insurance, just not taking losses.

  • timbo||

    lousy POS is the nicest thing anyone could ever say about Krug. He is criminal scum on par with Goebbles.

  • R C Dean||

    It seems clear that subsidies for purchasing insurance, and in some cases for insurers themselves, should be somewhat bigger

    Didn't see that coming.

    an affordable proposition given that the program so far has come in under budget

    [citation needed]

    I swear I read that the insurance company cross-subsidy funds had already dried up, and that Medicaid expansion was costing a lot more than anyone thought.

  • Not an Economist||

    [citation needed]

    The printing press still has ink and paper therefore Obamacare is under budget.

    /sarcasm

  • Lee Genes||

    The idea of allowing the government to offer a health plan directly to families was blocked in 2010 because private insurers didn't want to face the competition. But if those insurers aren't actually interested in providing insurance, why not let the government step in (as Hillary Clinton is in fact proposing)?

    I believe that's a quaternio terminorum

  • 0x90||

    But it would be quite easy to...

    When the topic is any non-trivial system, and someone utters these words, they have told you everything you are ever going to need to know about them.

  • R C Dean||

    Ah, an excellent illustration of an Iron Law:

    The less you know about something, the easier it looks.

  • Cloudbuster||

    As a consulting engineer within a sales organization, that law (or, rather, the living examples of that law) is the bane of my existence.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    why not let the government step in (as Hillary Clinton is in fact proposing)?

    I can't read that without thinking about the skit A Fistful Of Yen in Kentucky Fried Movie. "...by creating a fighting force of extraordinary magnitude, as Doctor Klahn is doing...he has our gratitude...let's give Doctor Klahn a big hand!" (grimaces as neck is snapped)

  • IndyEleven||

    What was that? This is not a charade!

  • Contrarian P||

    Yep, very easy to fix the system. The government will just spend more money on it. Isn't that the same approach advocated for every problem, from schools to military to health care? I had no idea we were this wealthy.

    "Beyond that, what about the public option?"

    What about it? We already have several public options: Medicare, Medicaid, the Indian Health Service, and the VA, all of which have colossal problems. The plan seems to be to give everybody Medicare, because a program that is already insolvent just needs to get bigger. We'll make up for it in volume!

  • The Last American Hero||

    It's just like his apology for being wrong on the Stimulus - I was wrong it needed to be even bigger.

  • Wizard4169||

    Keynesianism means never having to say you're sorry. Just propose that government throw some money down a rat hole. If things get better, take the credit. If they don't, just complain about how they didn't throw enough money down the rat hole.

  • Yusef Adama||

    "There should also be a reinforced effort to ensure that healthy Americans buy insurance, as the law requires, at the point of a gun", FTFY

  • Lord at War||

    And that's what pissed me off the most. An $800 billion "stimulus" wasn't enough.

    But it wasn't just $800 billion!

    If it was a just a one time thing, spending should have dropped $500-600 billion the next year to go back to previous baselines- but it did not. Even the next year- did spending drop? Nope- That's at least another $300-400 billion down the shithole. So, the "stimulus" total was at least $2 trillion- and it accomplished nothing...

    And I'm being generous. I'm using numbers that assume Gov't spending would increase by 6%/yr- while GDP growth hasn't hit 3%/yr during the entirety of Obama's presidency.

    Pauly Krugnuts is a moron of the purest water...

  • Lee Genes||

    And many of these private insurers are now finding themselves losing money, because previously uninsured Americans who are signing up turn out to have been sicker and more in need of costly care than we realized.

    Some insurers are responding by hiking premiums, which were initially set well below what the law's framers expected.

    Lying &**($%*^@%^^%@^%$!!

  • ||

    The left have never lacked effort in believing that they can lie their way to reality.

  • Invisible Finger||

    They can't be starving if they have the strength to stand in a bread line.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Those people are just starving to spite The Dear Leader! He should make it illegal to starve!

  • timbo||

    Just when you think failed socialist policies could not get more ridiculous, the government invents new boogeymen.

    Kind of like gender queer bathroom discrimination crises.

  • bassjoe||

    If the US was orchestrating a successful campaign against Venezuela, does that not mean that Chavismo has serious flaws?

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: Venezuela's Latest Response to Food Shortages: Ban Lines Outside Bakeries
    Maduro's government claims the lines are a calculated political attempt to stir up "anxiety."

    Venezuela's Maduro is taking the correct action of banning lines outside bakeries. As we all know, counter-revolutionary activities start in lines outside bakeries. This is why such wise and beneficent visionaries as Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Castro eliminated this practice. It all starts with small talk, then the conversations turn to politics, then discontent, then the Dear Leader of the country is beheaded with a hacksaw. No true socialist slaver wants this. The socialist ruling class wisely allows only one kind of bread as not to confuse the untermenschen they are enslaving. But people being people, they always want more. They want wheat bread, they want sliced bread, the want French bread, and on and on. There's no pleasing them. They always want more. Then they will want more bread. Then they will want butter. Then they will want meat, vegetables or fruit. The lowly plebian class insatiable lust for more and better food will continue until they will want to live their lives independent of The State, buy more clothes, go on vacations. The list goes on, but the point is that counter-revolutionary thought and counter-revolutionary actions always start in the lines outside a bakery. Can anyone blame Maduro for banning such an ugly political action as this?

  • Metalib||

    And deodorant, what about deodorant! Do we really need 32 types of deodorant and 5 types of bread? But we all need the dacha for our summer relaxation...well at least those of us that sacrifice in the name of the revolution!

  • Sevo||

    If we start a line at the gas station down the street and then run like hell to the bakery, is that a bakery bread line?

  • IWasADemocrat||

    btw, CNN actually implied that the food shortage crisis was because of a lack of government investment in agricultures.

    Quite sad.

  • Ron||

    its always austerities fault

  • IndyEleven||

    See what will happen if we get rid of the ethanol mandate, CRP, set-asides, and other ag subisdies? Bread lines!

  • Shirley Knott||

    But Bernie wants to get there without cutting any of these programs. He's a *real* Socialist.

  • Paloma||

    No, it's quite a lot of goddamn bolas. Chavez' government confiscated private farms and turned them over to favored political cronies. And THAT'S a lack of government investment?

  • Metalib||

    It's the ZImbabwe model of having those stinking farmers pay their fair share.

  • Jerryskids||

    You've got a line of hungry people, a government that doesn't want a line and a people who don't want to be hungry. Seems like there's a simple answer to this problem, a modest proposal, if you will.

  • Busterpos||

    I believe swift action is in order here.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Bernie just needs to go down there and soshsplain how good they all have it to them.

  • Lord at War||

    No one really needs a choice between bread, muffins, arepas, and cake...

    All retards deserve cake.

    /Bernie Sanders

  • Seamus||

    The head of this particular bureaucracy, William Contreras, claims the lines aren't a true indicator of a severe shortage of bread, but rather, a political "strategy of generating anxiety."

    It's wreckers and kulaks all the way down.

  • Locris||

    gubment always has the answers.

    Notice though they never want for the want they said they would abolish and never have?

  • GamerFromJump||

    What is it going to take for people to realize that the solution to socialist policies is to kill the socialists?

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online