A while ago, I called for the cancellation of the Summer Olympics in Brazil due to the Zika epidemic. since then, all sorts of other evidence has arisen that the country is in chaos politically and economically. Certainly, no country in South America is in more trouble than Brazil, right?
Wrong. There’s our good friend Venezuela. You know, the one that called our president “El Diablo” (The Devil)?
Once a wealthy and modern nation, a popular socialist movement (think Bernie Sanders on steroids) led by Hugo Chavez led to Venezuela’s transformation into, well, Cuba. Despite this dubious plan for future prosperity, Chavez remained popular until his death in 2013, and was replaced by his hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro.
Venezuela sits upon huge oil reserves and counted upon high prices to prop up its socialist revolution. It worked for a while, with a trillion dollars going into the country’s coffers. But even before the oil boom imploded, socialist mismanagement was causing shortages of food and toiletries. Now, with oil prices floundering, government offices are closed much of the week due to, of all things, efforts to save electricity.
Ever wonder how successful socialism is? Well, just look at Venezuela and you’ll find out. In almost any other country, going food shopping is no big deal. You go to the supermarket, you buy food as much as you need, and go home with a bunch of plastic bags full of good stuff to eat.
But in Venezuela, the economy is running over a cliff at high speed. Fox News reports that food shopping has become a mission, sometimes a perilous one that’s not a guaranteed success. It may be hours before you can even get in the door of a supermarket. Shelves are empty. Meat and chicken, and even diapers, are rare or extinct commodities. People are so desperate for food that fights break out in the aisles. There’s a black market in flour, for Pete’s sake.
Recently, groups of women have crashed the border with Colombia, an illegal act, not to seek asylum (yet), but to buy groceries.
This is now par for the course in Venezuela. There were more than 70 cases of looting or looting attempts in May, not in jewelry or electronics stores, but in supermarkets. Sometimes, the trucks bringing the food are waylaid before they even get to the market and looted.
If you go to the meat or butcher section of any state-run grocery store, you will find sodas or other products, not meat or chicken. In the dairy department, you’re lucky to find yogurt. The only items you might find filling the shelves are things like vinegar, and let’s face it, how much vinegar do you need in a healthy diet?
But Venezuela’s crisis is not about the distribution of food, Venezuela is just not producing anything anymore. 70 percent of companies said their production has dropped significantly since last year. Since the glorious socialist revolution began, Fox News reports that 8000 firms have closed their doors.That makes Venezuela more dependent on imports, but the Maduro government recently announced it will cut them by 46 percent simply because it doesn’t have the dollars to conduct international trade.
So, guess what happened? After ten years of hurling insults at the U.S. at every turn, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is now willing to restore diplomatic relations with America (the first since 2010). The socialist government sent a message congratulating the United States on its Independence Day commemoration and said it was “willing to establish respectful bilateral diplomatic relations.”
What a surprise! President Maduro has seen the light. Of course, like Castro in Cuba, he won’t let a little thing like widespread poverty and hunger tear down his regime, but a little foreign aid from the Great Satan would come in handy right about now.
Should we watch as hungry Venezuelans throw their socialist politicians into a big, protein-rich stew? We’re supposed to the heroes (suckers) in this story. I read where we fund food aid to North Korea, of all places. Should we prop up another failed state like President Obama is propping up Cuba? It hasn’t helped change the political situation there, so why should we expect that propping up Maduro will change the situation in Venezuela?
So let’s say “thanks, give us a year to think about your generous offer of diplomatic relations”. By then, the Venezuela people will probably be hungry enough to realize the awesome results of socialism as a form of government.
Joe and Amy Alton