Gold Supporting Member
- Feb 22, 2004
- Reaction score
Well, sure. Chavez is, by his own admisssion, following the economic model of Fidel Castro. Within eighteen months, Fidel had taken that country from being one of the most prosperous of all in Latin America, to the second-worst, still is.
Things begin to fall apart in Venezuela
Simon Romero report in the New York Times about what happens when you combine price controls and the Dutch disease in Hugo Chavez-land:
Faced with an accelerating inflation rate and shortages of basic foods like beef, chicken and milk, President Hugo Chávez has threatened to jail grocery store owners and nationalize their businesses if they violate the countrys expanding price controls.
Food producers and economists say the measures announced late Thursday night, which include removing three zeroes from the denomination of Venezuelas currency, are likely to backfire and generate even more acute shortages and higher prices for consumers. Inflation climbed to an annual rate of 18.4 percent a year in January, the highest in Latin America and far above the official target of 10 to 12 percent.
Mr. Chávez, whose leftist populism remains highly popular among Venezuelas poor and working classes, seemed unfazed by criticism of his policies. Appearing live on national television, he called for the creation of committees of social control, essentially groups of his political supporters whose purpose would be to report on farmers, ranchers, supermarket owners and street vendors who circumvent the states effort to control food prices.
It is surreal that weve arrived at a point where we are in danger of squandering a major oil boom, said José Guerra, a former chief of economic research at Venezuelas central bank, who left Mr. Chavezs government in 2004. If the government insists on sticking to policies that are clearly failing, we may be headed down the road of Zimbabwe.....
In an indicator of concern with Mr. Chávezs economic policies, which included nationalizing companies in the telephone and electricity industries, foreign direct investment was negative in the first nine months of 2006. The last year Venezuela had a net investment outflow was in 1986.
Shortages of basic foods have been sporadic since the government strengthened price controls in 2003 after a debilitating strike by oil workers. But in recent weeks, the scarcity of items like meat and chicken have led to a panicked reaction by federal authorities as they try to understand how such shortages could develop in a seemingly flourishing economy.
Again, the concept of Socialism relies solely on the fundamental belief that all humans want the EXACT same goals in life.
But instead of fighting hunger, the military is making money from it, an Associated Press investigation shows. That's what grocer Jose Campos found when he ran out of pantry staples this year. In the middle of the night, he would travel to an illegal market run by the military to buy pallets of corn flour - at 100 times the government-set price. "The military would be watching over whole bags of money," Campos said. "They always had what I needed." With much of the country on the verge of starvation and billions of dollars at stake, food trafficking has become one of the biggest businesses in Venezuela, the AP found. And from generals to foot soldiers, the military is at the heart of the graft, according to documents and interviews with more than 60 officials, business owners and workers, including five former generals. As a result, food is not reaching those who most need it.
A youth uses his pillow as a bag to collect rice from the pavement that shook loose from a food cargo truck waiting to enter the port in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, the port that handles the majority of Venezuela's food imports. As millions of Venezuelans go hungry this year, food trafficking has become one of the most lucrative businesses in the country.
The U.S. government has taken notice. Prosecutors have opened investigations against senior Venezuelan officials, including members of the military, for laundering riches from food contracts through the U.S. financial system, according to four people with direct knowledge of the probes. No charges have been brought. "Lately, food is a better business than drugs," said retired Gen. Cliver Alcala, who helped oversee Venezuela's border security. "The military is in charge of food management now, and they're not going to just take that on without getting their cut."
"WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?"
After opposition attempts to overthrow him, the late President Hugo Chavez began handing the military control over the food industry, creating a Food Ministry in 2004. His socialist-run government nationalized farms and food processing plants, then neglected them, and domestic production dried up. Oil-exporting Venezuela became dependent on food imports, but when the price of oil collapsed in 2014, the government no longer could afford all the country needed. Food rationing grew so severe that Venezuelans spent all day waiting in lines. Pediatric wards filled up with underweight children, and formerly middle class adults began picking through trash bins for scraps. When people responded with violent street protests, Maduro handed the generals control over the rest of food distribution, and the country's ports.
The government now imports nearly all of Venezuela's food, according to Werner Gutierrez, the former dean of the agronomy school at the University of Zulia, and corruption is rampant, jacking up prices and leading to shortages. "If Venezuela paid market prices, we'd be able to double our imports and easily satisfy the country's food needs," Gutierrez said. "Instead, people are starving." One South American businessman said he paid millions in kickbacks to Venezuelan officials as the hunger crisis worsened, including $8 million to people who work for the current food minister, Gen. Rodolfo Marco Torres. The businessman insisted on speaking anonymously because he did not want to acknowledge participating in corruption.
Hell. I thought Venzuela was a socialist paradise under Hugo Chavez?
Now they don't have enough to eat??
The calls by members of Congress on both sides of the aisle come in response to an Associated Press investigation that found trafficking in hard-to-find food has become big business in Venezuela, with the military at the heart of the graft. Embattled socialist President Nicolas Maduro has given the military increasingly broad control over the food supply as shortages have led to widespread malnutrition this year. "When the military is profiting off of food distribution while the Venezuelan people increasingly starve, corruption has reached a new level of depravity that cannot go unnoticed," said Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
The AP report published last month detailed a chain of dirty dealing by the military, including kickbacks to generals for food contracts and bribes to move food out of the port. Some of the food is purchased in the U.S. and some of the bribes passed through the U.S. banking system. U.S. prosecutors are investigating senior Venezuelan officials, including members of the military, for laundering riches from food contracts through the U.S. financial system, the AP learned from four people with direct knowledge of the probes. No charges have been brought.
New government cargo trucks used to transport imported food wait outside the entrance of the Laramar warehouse in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, the port city where the majority of Venezuela's imported food arrives. The calls by members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to sanction Venezuelan officials for profiting from food shortages come in response to an Associated Press investigation that found trafficking in hard-to-find food has become big business in Venezuela, with the military at the heart of the graft.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said President Donald Trump should take immediate action to sanction the top officials named in the AP report. "This should be one of President Trump's first actions in office," Rubio, who is chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee that oversees Latin America, said in a statement. The Associated Press cited documents and testimony from business owners who pointed to food minister Gen. Rodolfo Marco Torres and his predecessor, Gen. Carlos Osorio, as key figures involved in fraudulent food imports. Neither official responded to requests for comment, but in the past, both have dismissed charges of corruption as empty accusations propagated by political opponents.
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, said she is urging the State and Treasury Departments to apply sanctions to Marco Torres and Osorio, as well as anyone else getting rich off Venezuela's food shortages. She is also asking that government agencies ensure U.S. companies are not doing business directly with any Venezuelan business owners fronting for corrupt officials. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, joined her in calling for those involved in food corruption to be held accountable. In 2015, the Obama administration, at the urging of Rubio and Menendez, froze U.S. assets and denied visas for top Venezuelan officials accused of drug trafficking and of human rights violations during a wave of anti-government protests. Maduro responded by calling the U.S. lawmakers "terrorists" bent on destabilizing the oil-rich nation, and banned them from Venezuela.
Your link is dead...
Most shops and businesses in San Cristobal, capital of Tachira State near the Colombian border, were closed and guarded by soldiers on Wednesday, although looting continued in some poorer sectors, residents said. People made off with items including coffee, diapers and cooking oil in the OPEC nation, where a brutal economic crisis has made basic foods and medicine disappear from shelves. Barricades of trash, car tires and sand littered the streets, as daily life broke down in the city that was also a hot spot during the 2014 wave of unrest against leftist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets across Venezuela since early last month to demand elections, freedom for jailed activists, foreign aid and autonomy for the opposition-led Venezuelan National Assembly. Maduro’s government has accused them of seeking a violent coup and has said many of the protesters are no more than “terrorists.” State oil company Petroleos de Venezuela also blamed roadblocks for pockets of gasoline shortages in the country on Wednesday. In Tachira, teenager Jose Francisco Guerrero was shot dead during the spate of looting, his relatives told reporters. The state prosecutor’s office confirmed his death, which pushed the death toll in six weeks of unrest to at least 43, equal to that of the 2014 protests.
With international pressure against Venezuela’s government mounting, the UN Security Council on Wednesday turned its attention to the country’s crisis for the first time. “The intent of this briefing was to make sure everyone is aware of the situation... We’re not looking for Security Council action,” US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told reporters after the session. “The international community needs to say: ‘Respect the human rights of your people or this is going to go in the direction we’ve seen so many others go’... We have been down this road with Syria, with North Korea, with South Sudan, with Burundi, with Burma,” she said.
An anti-government protester participates in a candlelight rally against the administration of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas
Venezuelan Permanent Representative to the UN Rafael Ramirez in turn accused the US of seeking to topple the Maduro government. “The US’ meddling stimulates the action of violent groups in Venezuela,” he said, showing photographs of vandalism and violence he attributed to opposition supporters. Venezuelans living abroad, many of whom fled the country’s economic chaos, have in recent weeks accosted visiting Venezuelan officials and their family members.
No, it's sad when it happens. There's nothing funny about people suffering under a dictatorship.
/---- The free market would correct this overnight as competition offers a cheaper product. And yes there are competitors for the epi penExcellent point. Why shouldn`t a guy be allowed to raise the price of a pill from $7.50 to $700 overnight or sell an e-pen for $600?That's what happens when Govt thinks they can regulate prices and not allow the free market to take it's course.