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Venezuela Has Flour, Milk, Diaper, Sugar Shortages

From NPR:

Venezuela In Turmoil For Lack Of Flour, Milk And Diapers

By Lourdes Garcia-Navarro | March 16, 2014

Alvaro Villarueda starts his morning the same way every day — putting in a call to his friend who has a friend who works at a Caracas, Venezuela, supermarket. Today, he’s looking for sugar, and he’s asking his friend if he knows if any shipments have arrived. As he talks on the phone, his wife Lisbeth Nello, is in the kitchen.

There are 10 mouths to feed every day in this family — five of them children. The two youngest are still in diapers. "The things that are the scarcest are actually what we need the most," Nello says. "Flour, cooking oil, butter, milk, diapers. I spent last week hunting for diapers everywhere. The situation is really tough for basic goods." …

NPR neglects to mention that even once such things are found, the inflation rate is currently 57 percent. 

And never mind that Venezuela is flush with oil wealth, which has been redistributed to everyone equally. So how is this possible?

Thankfully, NPR explains:

As with everything in Venezuela, the reasons given for the food shortages depend on political affiliation. The government says it’s the result of unscrupulous businessmen waging an economic war and hoarding by regular people afraid of shortages.

Those in the opposition blame a system that imposes price controls, the lack of money to buy imports and problems in the supply chain after the expropriation of farms and factories by the socialist government…

And naturally NPR won’t take sides. (See ‘moral equivalency.’) Venezuela’s problems are just as likely to be due to unscrupulous businessmen as the failing of socialism. After all, socialism has never failed anywhere before.

All supermarkets these days have security to make sure that customers stay in line and obey government-imposed limits on what they can buy, and that no one causes a riot.

In the slum of Antimano, women are standing in line in front of a shop. They say they don’t know what’s on offer, but they are queuing anyway, a sign of how worried people are that they won’t get what they need.

Inside the market, the manager, Roger Escorihuela, takes me around and points out that the shelves are not bare. There are cereals, eggs and pastas and fancy jams, but the staples that are subject to price controls — black beans, butter, corn meal, the list goes on — are missing, he says.

It’s enough to make one wax nostalgic for the good old days of the Soviet Union. (Which must have also been plagued by ‘unscrupulous businessmen.’)

He acknowledges he never knows what will be delivered each day by his trucks which is why people have to phone around to find out what’s available. But he insists there is no shortage, and everyone gets what they need, eventually.

At least this day, he’s proven right. A woman walks in looking for toilet paper, but the shelves are bare. Then she spots the last roll, fallen behind the shelf. She gleefully grabs it and rushes to pay.

Thank goodness NPR was able to give us a happy ending. And everyone gets what they need — eventually.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Wednesday, March 19th, 2014. Comments are currently closed.

3 Responses to “Venezuela Has Flour, Milk, Diaper, Sugar Shortages”

  1. dasher

    If only that toothy photo of Obama meeting Chavez were part of this article more people would understand the man.

    D.

  2. Michelle Obama applauds. No chance Venezuelan citizens can make pastry cream.

  3. canary

    Dasher they hugged. Maybe some hugging at midnight in the pastry kitchen is behind all that cooking in the kitchen.
    And the trip to Martha’s Vineyard for the bump on the head from the frying pan. We should be looking for a Clinton move of the couple smootching on some beach in near future.




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