Food Shortages In Venezuela

The New York Times writes:

Venezuela is one of the world’s top oil producers at a time of soaring energy prices, yet shortages of staples like milk, meat and toilet paper are a chronic part of life here, often turning grocery shopping into a hit or miss proposition.

Some residents arrange their calendars around the once-a-week deliveries made to government-subsidized stores like this one, lining up before dawn to buy a single frozen chicken before the stock runs out. Or a couple of bags of flour. Or a bottle of cooking oil.

The shortages affect both the poor and the well-off, in surprising ways. A supermarket in the upscale La Castellana neighborhood recently had plenty of chicken and cheese — even quail eggs — but not a single roll of toilet paper. Only a few bags of coffee remained on a bottom shelf.

Asked where a shopper could get milk on a day when that, too, was out of stock, a manager said with sarcasm, “At Chávez’s house.”

At the heart of the debate is President Hugo Chávez’s socialist-inspired government, which imposes strict price controls that are intended to make a range of foods and other goods more affordable for the poor. They are often the very products that are the hardest to find.

Maybe this is why you don’t see lefties singing the Hugo Chavez praise anymore? Is it time yet for a little “I Told You So”?

9 Responses to “Food Shortages In Venezuela”

  1. Jon says:

    But when the Soviet Union collapsed, privatization was implemented, and price controls were removed, millions of people died. Go to Gapminder and track Russia. Watch life expectancy and GDP through the fall. You’d be hard pressed to find a catastrophic downturn like that absent a war.

    Meanwhile in Venezuela, problems still exist, but things overall have gotten much better. Imagine what the apologists for neoliberalism would say if Venezuela went through anything like what Russia went through.

  2. Not gotten better if you consider it from the poors perspective, see here. In addition to the above food shortages.

  3. Dom says:

    It’s interesting to compare the fall of communism in the Soviet Union and in East Germany. In the latter case it was mostly successful from the start, minus a few hickups. I know that some are calling for a return to statism, but that seems to be a minority.

    I think the difference is that the East Germans still had the West Germans to see how capitalism works. In the SU, the population knew only to wait until the government takes care of you.

  4. Dom says:

    Hmmm … is it “falling” or “rising”?

    From the article linked to in the first comment:
    “The [Gini] index has fallen to 41 in 2008, from 48.1 in 2003 and 47 in 1999.”

    From the article linked to in the second comment:
    “… the Gini coefficient … increasing from 0.44 to 0.48 between 2000 and 2005.”

    Assuming the first article simply multiplies the Gini by 100, then the two quotes show that it is either (a) jumping around a lot, or (b) an unreliable measure calculated by the government.

  5. Fernando says:

    Nothing new about Venezeula. The consensus being that Hugo can destroy his own country, and jon only in your dreams.

  6. Jon says:

    HP, Megan is quoting a guy that looks to be a a high profile critic that was formerly part of the Chavez administration. He seems to be on bit of a mission to discredit Chavez. Like Richard Clarke, Scott McClellan. Maybe Joe Wilson. His argument is that while some things have gotten better, Chavez doesn’t deserve the credit because oil prices rose. Also he cites some isolated statistics that suggest things have gotten worse (% of underweight babies, % of expenditures on health services). These sound kind of isolated to me, but I’m not an expert on that and don’t pretend to know who is in the right.

    But I just think it’s worth noticing the way different leaders are treated. Chavez is democratically elected and pretty popular. His failures get loud play. His successes are attributed to other causes. Contrast with say Uzbekistan where the investor climate is much more friendly. Just do any Google search. Here’s a recent article:

    Pretty antiseptic. Hey, they’re pursuing a privatization drive. Great. Doing well with exports, though unfortunately this deprives the people of natural gas. Oh well (investors are doing fine). The fact that this guy boils people alive and is a leading arms recipient from the US, which he uses to crush his own people? Not interesting. Whatever success he might have you can bet will not be attributed to rising oil prices. The vote is just like the votes were in Iraq. One person on the ballot. Yes or no. He gets elected with like 98% support. It’s pretty rare to hear criticism. But Chavez is a dictator.

    What’s the difference between the two? Investor climate.

  7. Capitalism itself Jon, the economic system agreed upon by 99% of economists world wide also gets wide support. Even this you blame on investor climate.

  8. Jon says:

    99% of economists prefer capitalism? Where do you get that figure?

    Not that this has anything to do with what I said, but I’m curious.

  9. Fernando says:

    Jon “The fact that this guy boils people alive and is a leading arms recipient from the US”.

    Read well!!

    The Fact is that Russia is the leading supplier to Venezuela.
    Then to counter the threat from Venezuela, England sold a nuclear submarine to Brazil.

    By the way jon; Your group made the case for “Peacefull Nuclear Power” for the World.

    Could you tell this rather ignorant Republican What is The Meaning of “Peacefull Nuclear Power” really means?

    Since each country HAS it’s own definition as to what Peacefull Nuclear Power means to them.

    Simple enough question.

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