by Patrick Gillespie and Osmary Hernandez | October 21, 2016: 9:21 AM ET
Earlier this year, Venezuelans suffered through acute food shortages.
Now food is starting to reappear on more and more supermarket shelves. But the prices are prohibitive for almost everyone.
“The prices are really really high…people are just shocked by the price increases,” says Alejandro, a 24-year old who works at a law firm in Maracaibo, Venezuela, near the border of Colombia.
It’s the latest reality in a country where people are going hungry: food within eyesight but out of reach.
To ease the shortages, Venezuela’s government has quietly stopped enforcing some of its price controls on food in parts of Venezuela that border Colombia and Brazil where food is shipped in.
It wasn’t feasible for many Venezuelan businesses to bring in basic goods from other countries. That’s because no matter what price they paid, they were forced to sell at super low prices dictated for years by the socialist government.
There’s more at the link, but the details all boil down to one thing: real prices are set by the free market, and when governments try to impose artificially low prices, producers quit producing and sellers quit selling, because they would be losing money. Now, Venezuela has been forced to stop imposing price controls on some basic foodstuffs, and these things are now becoming available, but because they are still scarce, the market prices are now artificially high. Eventually, if the government doesn’t do something stupid — a big ‘if’ in a country like Venezuela — supply and demand will come into some sort of equilibrium, and prices will stabilize at lower levels, but still levels that are higher than the ‘official’ government prices, prices which can still support a profit.
And how is the government reacting? Just as you’d expect from Socialists! From The Wall Street Journal:
Action to end constitutional recall effort against President Nicolás Maduro comes after postponement of state elections and weakening of Congress
By Anatoly Kurmanaev | Updated October 21, 2016 6:05 p.m. ET
CARACAS, Venezuela—Venezuela’s government has steadily become more authoritarian in recent years, but many citizens feel it cast off the last vestiges of democracy Thursday night, when electoral authorities extinguished the opposition’s efforts to recall President Nicolás Maduro by referendum.
The action came days after the government postponed December elections for governors that it would have badly lost and stripped the legislature of one of last powers it had left: its constitutional right to pass a federal budget.
Taken together, the moves signal the end of any hope that Mr. Maduro could be removed from power through referendum, as provided for under the constitution, or even have his executive power checked. And they fuel growing doubt about whether Mr. Maduro’s ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela will hold presidential elections scheduled for 2018.
Public figures and intellectuals here have this week decried an official end to democracy in a country with one of Latin America’s longest and strongest democratic traditions.
“Democracy doesn’t exist without the separation of powers, without elections and without votes,” Alberto Barrera, a noted author here, said in an online column this week. “That has another name.”
The government followed the referendum’s suspension by issuing travel bans for 11 opposition leaders, including former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles and Jesús Torrealba, the general secretary of the opposition alliance. The move was likely aimed at preventing the opposition from drumming up international support for their cause, one of the few avenues of action left to them.
Again, there’s more at the original. Since his (legitimate) election in 1999, Socialist President Hugo Chávez engaged in several periods of ‘rule by decree,’ or one-man dictatorship. The majority of his presidency, which he held until his death on March 5, 2013, was under the states of emergency to allow that dictatorship. President Maduro, his successor, continued Sr Chávez’ socialist policies, which continued the decline in the standards of living of his countrymen, leading to civil unrest, and opposition electoral victories, so he, too, has been ruling by decree ever since November of 2013.
Remember when those paragons of the American left made their paeans of praise for Sr Chávez? Allen West noted what he called the ‘cricket effect,’ as these loudmouthed leftists have now stopped talking, as their Socialist heroes became dictators — what they were accusing President George Bush of being — and his Socialist country was run into the septic tank:
But, where are those voices when it comes to the apparent disaster and failure evidenced in Venezuela? Yes, the cricket effect. Once upon a time, folks like Sean Penn, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, and Oliver Stone sang the praises of Hugo Chavez. Where are their voices now?
The truly idiotic Cindy Sheehan, the mother who sullied the memory of her son’s sacrifice in Iraq, didn’t have enough sense to just shut up; she wrote this article of praise for Sr Chavez in March of this year, well after anyone with eyes could see that the Venezuelan presidents had turned into dictators, and well after anyone who could read knew that Venezuela had descended into economic chaos, monumental corruption, and one of the worst murder and crime rates in the world.
Revolution cannot be achieved or accomplished by one person, no matter how dedicated he/she is. Was the way of Chavez perfect? I don’t think so, but that’s the beauty of revolution — it’s a continuing process that takes everybody working together to achieve as close to perfection as mere humans can.
Now, reflecting on three years since his passing, and being with my own sister as she fights a cancer battle of her own, I am reminded that the dedication Chavez brought to fighting the cancer that eventually robbed him of life was only matched by his unrelenting dedication to the people of Venezuela. Chavez was young and vibrant, he was not ready to go. I can imagine his agony over leaving his children and grandchildren, and his beloved Venezuela. Three years ago today, the world lost a great human, father and leader. I was at a grocery store when I received a text telling me he had passed: I put my head on the cold door in the frozen food section and openly wept. I wondered if people were thinking I was crying because my favorite frozen pizza was not in stock. I didn’t care. I replaced the items I had in my basket, quickly left and cried all the way on my walk home.
I wept for my friend Chavez and myself, for the people of Venezuela and the world.
In my opinion, Hugo Chavez was a figure of enormous significance in the 21st century and history will recognize not only his leadership, but his profound humanity and compassion for the oppressed and downtrodden. Venezuela is fortunate that it had such a strong personality, even for such a short time.
A person like Chavez is not born every day and his passing was a tragedy, but I believe his legacy and spirit are strong enough to inspire his people to eventually and completely create a nation that is by and for everyone.
What idiocy! While I’m sure that the irony is lost on Mrs Sheehan, I had to laugh when I read that she ‘openly wept’ and put back the items that she was about to purchase in a grocery store! That she was able to buy food, in a grocery store, was a direct result of her being an American, of living in the United States, rather than in the Socialist paradise of empty food shelves that is Venezuela. At a time when the people of socialist Venezuela are starving, the capitalist United States can’t keep people from Central and South America from streaming across our borders in search of a better life. At a time when working people in socialist Venezuela can’t buy enough food, poor people in the capitalist United States are more likely to be obese than those who are not poor.
The facts are clear: socialists are stupid, and you just can’t fix stupid.
Cross-posted in The First Street Journal.