That Didn't Take Long
This fits well with our Down The Rabbit Hole Segment, “The Real War”, which we’ll get to in a moment. As I write this the black market exchange rate (the real exchange rate) for the bolivar is 4,183,014 bsS per dollar. Just less than two weeks ago we reported that the rate was 3,528,301 bsS per dollar. You combine that with what we told you yesterday, food prices up 1,600% in 1st half of 2021, and you don’t have to be a math wiz to figure out things just keep getting worse and worse for the Venezuelan people. Since he took office, and I do mean “took” office, Maduro has constantly been flailing around repeating the same ‘economic solutions’ over and over with the same results. And why would he do this,you might ask? We’ll get into it more next week but it has to do with ideology trumping reality and along with kleptocracy is the driving force behind “The Real War”.
Chavista, Manuel Paez, informs us that everyone can relax. They are in the last phase of restarting the El Palito refinery and that will definitely solve the fuel problem. Let’s see…each year,or several times a year, the oil minister tells us that they have solved the production problems (blamed on ‘the economic war against Venezuela’ perpetrated by those greedy capitalists and US imperialists) and each year production declines although this year it may actually increase since it was down to almost nothing. At the same time, each year Maduro tells us that “this is the year of the great economic recovery (same blame as voiced by the oil minister)” and each year GDP contracts. What was that number? Something like an 87% decline since Maduro “took” office. And we’re supposed to believe that these guys have now solved the fuel problem (or any problem). Do you believe them?
And in more happy talk, the spokesman for the Chavista version of former opposition party AD (Accion Democratica) says they are ready for the talks in Mexico. Well, everybody seems very ready and very optimistic about the proposed talks in Mexico to resolve the crisis(es) in Venezuela. What could possibly go wrong?
In the “when pigs fly” category, the 2015 AN (National Assembly) approved an agreement backing UNESCO’s request to come to Venezuela to assess environmental damage to Canaima from illegal mining. In case you didn’t know, Canaima is one of the most environmentally unique regions of the world and encompasses things like tepuis, high mesas with species found nowhere else, and Angel Falls, the world’s highest water fall. I’m sure the Chavistas will rush to approve UNESCO’s request to assess the environmental damage the Maduro regime is turning a blind eye to.
And in the “big surprise” category we have New Politics reporting that the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) say radicals need to call for an end to sanctions and Venezuela blames them for the socialist failures in Latin America. It couldn’t be the flawed outlook of socialist policies that are to blame,could it? We seem to have another one of those ideology trumping reality situations.
Enough already! It’s Down The Rabbit Hole time….
Surely with a situation as serious as a starving population the government must be taking some steps to address hunger.Well, yes and no.Here are a couple of recommendations from the government.One is the Urban Farming Initiative. Residents in cities like Caracas should grow their own vegetables on balconies and roof-top gardens. I’m sure that will more than make up for the lost production from 3 and 1/2 million hectares of farmland. Another proposed solution regards the protein shortage in the average Venezuelan’s diet, as beef chicken,etc. are beyond the means of all but the wealthy. It’s rabbits! They are a popular pet in Venezuela so the government says you shouldn’t view them as cute little bunnies but as 2 and 1/2 kilos of meat.
The next idea had the potential to be a good thing but, as with everything Chavismo related,they corrupted it.As the food crisis shifted from a simple lack of availability to a combination of limited availability and total lack of affordability the government came up with a plan to deliver boxes of food to those that needed them every two weeks, enough for a family of five. OK, so we knew from the start that the feeding of a family of five with these boxes was overly ambitious but it’s still a good idea,right? …. Well…uhhh….kinda’.
First,the CLAP program (a Spanish acronym) can only be received by those holding the “Carnet de la Patria”. There’s that nasty Homeland Card again.Next, when first launched the deliveries were somewhat on schedule although,as we said, they weren’t big enough.It didn’t take long for the deliveries to become spotty with priority given to the well connected while others might not see their boxes for a month or two.Next,the quality of the products rapidly declined and many of the items would be past their expiration date.Next,the government drastically overpaid for the contents of the boxes which surprised absolutely nobody.The majority of the items came from Mexico from a company affiliated with Maduro. When the company was targeted in a corruption probe it closed up shop and the items were sourced primarily from Turkey.Not surprisingly, at the same time Maduro announced stronger ties with Turkey. Now, with the military put in charge of food distribution (it’s getting harder and harder to find ways to buy their loyalty) they also oversee CLAP box delivery. C’mon raise you hand if you think things will improve!
note: Intimately involved in setting up the supply of CLAP products from Mexico and subsequently Turkey was our boy Alex Saab currently cooling his heels in Cape Verde awaiting extradition to the US despite Maduro’s protestations.
Summary : We’ve previously discussed “The Maduro Diet”,the food shortages,the lack of affordability when food is available( how about 132 monthly minimum wages to feed a family of five a balanced diet) and the government’s denial of the problem, at least until recently. Now they can blame it on the imperialist,interventionist, gringos who are responsible for all thing evil all they want but a 2019 report by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) really sums things up. (and remember, all these multi-lateral groups like the UN have given Chavismo a pass for a long time).
Said organization,the FAO,gave an award to Venezuela in 2013 for reducing hunger by 50% from 1990 levels.This is a good thing although we now know that as soon as the historically high oil prices and massive borrowing went away so would the food. Anyway…Maduro got a lot of mileage out of that award on state media and elsewhere. Curiously there has been no mention on state media, and little elsewhere, about the FAO’s 2019 report. Venezuela is at risk of famine! 80% (now it’s higher) of Venezuelans live in food insecurity (they can’t afford to be properly fed). Malnutrition has tripled in recent years. Crop production is down more than 50% from already depressed levels…and they didn’t even mention one of my personal favorites. In 2018 (and as with everything Chavismo related it’s worse now) the combination of children with either malnutrition or wasting reached 35%. I didn’t even know what wasting meant (not malnourished but losing weight which children aren’t supposed to do).
The purpose of the FAO report was to assess the situation and make recommendations to implement to address the issues. Now,call me crazy but if the Chavistas won’t listen to recommendations from their most important allies,Russia (gave a four point economic plan to Maduro,number of recommendations implemented – zero), Cuba (everyone knows what an economic disaster they are … or else why are there more Cubans in Miami than in Havana? Cuba is only 90 miles from South Florida and by the way the South Florida Cuban population are fervent supporters of the Venezuelan opposition and staunchly anti- socialist/communist), and China who will they listen to? I saved the best for last. In a November 2018 economic cooperation conference a Venezuelan minister told his Chinese counterpart that the key for Venezuela would be more government control. Yu Bin, head of the Chinese delegation, responded “We have found exactly the opposite to be true. 90% of companies in China are private (Mao is rolling over in his grave… do they have graves?) and the government does whatever it can to help and support their efforts.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Famine…Jesus… I think I hear that familiar refrain.These are conditions normally associated with war torn countries or areas ravaged by drought or natural disasters like earthquakes,hurricanes,etc. This is a man made disaster, a Chavista made disaster.
P.S. Just so you know I didn’t forget, there are photos and videos everywhere showing things like the group of people that jumped a farmer’s fence and beat one of his cows to death with rocks, slaughtered zoo animals, the lady cooking a cat in the street etc. I don’t think we need to get into that here…? Oh, and don’t forget all the looting and hijackings. The most common sign on the side of trucks is “This Vehicle Carries No Food”.
Well, that’s a wrap. We’ll be back next week with more fun filled tales. Next up in our Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole Segment ….”Free Gas”
Have a great weekend!
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