This is your country on shortages

There's corn flour in the market ....AAAAAND IT'S GONE

There’s corn flour in the market ….AAAND IT’S GONE

The current problem of food shortages in Venezuela was the subject of a recent report by the Associated Press. One of the persons interviewed calls the experience of finding basic grocery products “an odyssey that never seems to end”.

The Venezuelan Central Bank confirmed that there was a “critical shortage” of at least six food products in December 2012.

But for other parts of the Chavernment, shortages are only a “sensation”. Like the lack of security.

For them, the blame falls on hoarders and speculators and they’re fighting back thanks to a new plan. The Food Producers Association CAVIDEA rejected such claims and explained that multiple controls and regulations in the food distribution chain “…makes hoarding and speculating by any company impossible”.

But the head of the Consumer Protection Agency (INDEPABIS) has put some guilt in the sorry-ass consumers she’s supposed to defend, because they’re focused in finding certain brands of products. Esto es lo que hay has now evolved from a phrase into public policy.

She was probably hinting to the Harina P.A.N. corn flour brand, a Venezuelan symbol and the most wanted product in the streets today: People wait for hours all across the land to get some of it and the arepera business is facing tough times because of the shortage. It has even become an Internet meme in the last few days.

But to contain the problem Nicolás Maduro will have some help of his friends, like Argentinean Planning Minister Julio DeVido (Cristina’s middleman for all Venezuelan-related businesses) who stopped in Caracas and promised “…all the necessary food” in exchange for “energetic security”. Venezuelan food sovereignty? There is no such thing…

But whatever comes from abroad, it still has to go through Puerto Cabello first.

71 thoughts on “This is your country on shortages

  1. …and 8 million people don’t give two shits about it.

    Also, I never truly realized how terrible Venezuelan acronyms are.

  2. Scarcity is affecting other industries too. A relative in Margarita in the construction business told me yesterday that the suppliers haven’t even bothered with opening the stores since the beginning of the year because they don’t have enough to sell.

    • I bet they do. They just don’t know how much they’re gonna need to restock because official US$ are also scarce. They don’t know not only how much will the USD cost in the near future, but also when it’s going to be available.

    • Carolina – just think what you are writing. Most suppliers of building materials are only just considering reopening after New Year. Of course there is not much stock in thes eplaces – how copuld they recieve deliveries if they were clsoed for three weeks or so? Of course, we all know that tall thsi is the fault of the government and no one is hoarding or speculating. Correct?

      • Arturo — just think what you are writing.
        1. Evidently, you have never experienced previous administrations to know the difference, so that you think you can glibly use the excuse of the holidays to explain shortages. You must think people are stupid.
        2. If there is hoarding or speculating, why would that be? (The answer may require knowledge of finance and economics, which are requirements beyond your capabilities.)

      • I though Chavez, before his corporeal form was replaced by the unelected guy with the mustache, had ordered all businesses dealing with housing construction not to close over the Xmas holidays. Just a thought.

        • Some wouldn’t close anyway, except on official holidays. Most would stock up in prevision of the holidays so as not to lose step afterwards. In a sensible country with a sensible economy and with a sensible President who would not bother to issue such idiotic orders for the tide to come in when it is coming in. But Venezuela stopped making sense long ago.

          • What doesn’t make sense to me is how they can afford to remain closed. Every day of not selling means a huge loss, and I don’t think that hoarding to resale after at a higher price would make up for that loss.

            • Something is horribly wrong with the economy if hoarding – specially of everyday items – works. Wrong as in losing an actual shooting war with bombardments and blockade, or as the economy has been horribly mismanaged and run into the ground.

      • One of the reasons why there is a dire scarcity of many products, is that of money itself, which is being thoroughly wasted on “guerrilla comunicacional” types who seem to be hucksters with degrees in excuse mongering on top of yet more scarcities: language use & keyboarding skill. No amount of money is ever going to be enough under these circumstances.

  3. My wife found Mazeite at the store for the first time since we moved back, in May 2012. She also found Harina P.A.N., which was hard to find for about 5 weeks. Meanwhile, the arepera around the corner from work raised the prices for the Arepa (+25%) and coffee (+50%).

    I already wanna go par coño again.

    • You have complete freedom to leave the country. Go ahead. It’s your right and also your right to return when you wish.

      • Arturo: Would you be as flippant as to say that to the majority of Cubans, over the past couple of decades?

        • I am stating a fact, syd. And WTF does Cuba have to do with this. Are you obsessed with Cuba or what? Whay not talk abpout Cambodia? Disociada…………..

      • Wrong, since no country has open borders for immigrants. Complete freedom to leave somewhere implies they have somewhere to practically go, which is not true for most people (whether you’re talking about Americans, Europeans, Asians or Africans).

        • The Fillipino Activist Jose Conseption once said or asked “How can you give up on the only country you have?” That is true for most Venezuelans.

    • No f**king way man!
      I live in Rio Caribe since may last year too, there are malandros, blackouts, vallenato (is it written like that?), and chavistas to give away, and also tons of rubbish.
      But Playa Medina and Paria rock man!
      No way I’m back to miserable London…

  4. Expect the PSF squad to come and show their nonexistent knowledge of economics or rather their knowledge of Chaveznomics by saying that that’s because consumption and wellbeing across the board have increased so much, so much that there’s scarcity. They won’t probably realize that this, even if it were partially true which is not, for 2 weeks at the most, is a clear admission of the economic model they want chavismo to impose on Venezuelans.

    • …a clear admission of failure for the economic model they want chavismo to impose on Venezuelans.

      And I might add, I wonder how patient they would be if they found shelves empty in their own home countries.

  5. I kind of remember that shortages were common in the Soviet Union…. but that was 20th Century Socialism!

  6. To paraphrase. No Harina PAN?… Let them eat Cuban sandwiches! Actualy, I think Cuban sandwiches taste better.
    Hoarding: The Mexican market down the street sells Harina PAN and it sells fast. Whenever I go there I buy a bag so I don’t run out (seems to be more folks from Arepa eating countries are here now). I guess Im a hoarder with half a dozen bags or so bags in my pantry!
    I do feel very sad for Venezuelans and can only pray that empty stomachs will not escalate into what we see in places like Syria.

    • No problem, Venezuela can import another president from Cuba at any time. It will cost a whole lot more.

  7. Funny that living in Europe, i can go down the street to any supermarket and buy 30 kgs of Harina Pan if i wanted to, meanwhile in the “Revolution of Happiness”…

    • Ah! I think Hal9000 has pointed out the problem, European countries are hoarding Venezuelan Harina Pan, and Polar is illegally making a profit by exporting it outside of Venezuela. This needs to be addressed right now.

      • Our economically-challenged rulers can’t do a thing about it. All the Harina Pan you can find outside Venezuela (and a safe bet, all that you can find inside Venezuela, way to go Boliburrros!) is now proudly produced in Colombia.

      • This problem requires an Arturo solution: People are free to travel to European countries in order to buy their household supply of Harina Pan.

        • I just bought harina pan today by walking two blocks so why do I have to go to Europe? BTW, syd – are you emnjoying spending years betting on political losers………………my God, even the Republicans lost. Hahahaha………..

          • I think that is the attraction of venezuela for PSFs. They can feel virtuous about their revolutionary ideology while enjoying the benefits of the dominant class. Didja make that arepa yourself Artie or did somebody make it for ya?

  8. Nonsense! It won’t be stuck in any port, it will be transported on the Argentina-Venezuela high speed rail / natural gas pipeline!

  9. Also, reading the statements by INDEPABIS leads me to believe they think Venezuelans are total utter idiots. Venezuelans are buying food enough to cause shortages for a month because they saw a picture of an empty shelf? The Venezuelan government really has a very low opinion of the Venezuelan people.

    • Joking aside Roy…..obesity has become a areal public health problem in Venezuela…..and according to bright sparks like you and other bloggers here, there has been a shortage of food here. The size of many people you see in the street belies this myth.

      • Wrong. The size of many people you see in the street responds to the lack of options and bad choices. Venezuelan diet for low income family is basically carbs (arepas, empanadas and pasta), and most of the dishes are deep fried.

  10. Would it be wrong to assume that the problem of ‘hoarding’ will not go away anytime soon? Isn’t hoarding the end result of a lack of confidence in the economic decisions of the government? How do you stop the snowballing effect?

  11. How come you can find Harina Pan, the real deal, in most latin markets in the greater New York City area? What a strange country…

    • The Harina PAN I have been getting is from their plant in Colombia and imported by Goya Foods. The Venezuelan made has not been exported in like four years or so. The last bag I got from Venezuela, I swear, tasted like it had mouse piss in it. Could that be the secret ingredient? The Colombian stuff seems a bit bland.

  12. The problem is not people hoarding food but the government hoarding its increasingly insufficient dollar revenue to attempt to meet the many expenses ( incuding financing expenses) coming due this year . Because Venezuela is so heavily dependent on food imports, it needs to use a lot of dollars to import food from international markets. Giordani is keeping a lid on the amount of dollars used to import foodstuffs because it needs all its dollars to pay for other expenses. At the same time . International food prices have risen and the special “transaction costs” of importing food in Venezuela (30% +) take a big chunk of the dollars used in any food purchase. making things worse. Artificially low government set prices also play a role in making many food staples scarce.

    • Yes, other expenses like … a necessary forthcoming presidential election for which campaigning has surreptitiously begun and which the MUD is characteristically quiet about. I hope they’re up to some deep thinking about the implications and find the balls to make the transcendental decisions that will be required to face the Chavista conspiracy to hold onto the country indefinitely.

      • Yes with dollars to support Maduro’s current campaign, issuing more Chinese appliances this past week, you can see where the governments priorities are. The Cubans were afraid Capriles could beat Maduro, hence the ongoing campaign to position Maduro for a win with full support of government cheating. Furthermore, I see Maduro’s campaign as further assurance that Chavez is not coming back. I just can’t get why Capriles is not already campaigning.

  13. I really dont know what is more pathetic. Shortages itself, or people going into a frenzy to aquire more Harina pan than they could possibly eat in 5 months like we are into war. There is already little harina PAN and people in a frenzy ends up depleting it faster.

    • What’s more pathetic is not taking into account the reality that people go into frenzies when faced with shortages. It’s like fire escape stairs. You can either try to train people to keep calm in case of fire so that they don’t trip going down the stairs, or you can design the stairs so that panicky people don’t trip without training. I go for the latter. There should simply be no shortages.

      • We absolutely agree on the fact that there should be no shortages, and that starts with government not interfering with production as it constantly does. Whenever I see people with a full cart of too much goods all I can think of is unnecesary waste. That doesn’t mean that I am in favor of those little pesky signs that say “Max 2-3 per person” but I certainly can’t approve or excuse people making lines the way that war refugees expected for a little piece of bread in the middle of winter.

        • You must excuse extorres, who is presumably one of those frenzied people at the market about whom you are expressing a very reasonable and legitimate concern. This reminds of those conservatives in the US who gleefully waste energy on “Earth Day” to show liberals what they think of their environmental policies.

          • honestly, you presume in error, but I rarely frenzy. As to of what my comment reminds you, it just shows how little you understood my point, that, when it comes to fear, you will be much more wasteful in trying to change people’s primal nature than in adapting the environment to take into account how people react to it. By the way, I’m not party to either the conservatives, nor the liberals.

      • I’m intrigued by the idea that you would “design the stairs so that panicky people don’t trip without training”. What would it be, like, an elevator?

        • honestly, fire escape stairs should be wider, and closer together because when affected by fear of fire people’s gait changes. The same kind of studies are what prevent drivers’ feet from missing the brake when a sudden stop is required; the distance from the accelerator and the height differences have been adjusted accordingly, knowing that when an imminent crash is feared, muscle control changes.

          So, no, not an elevator into which you’re not supposed to enter during a fire, by the way.

  14. Governments are responsible for all shortages mostly by price controls, import controls, or production controls. Venezuela has all three for food. A free market without controls would eliminate shortages quickly. Shortages are not caused by consumers.

    • “A free market without controls would eliminate shortages quickly.”

      The result of such a policy would be a return to the days when the poorest sectors of society could barely afford to eat. In other words, you wouldn’t notice a thing.

      • Not if you also distributed a minimum of income to each and every citizen that they would guarantee affording to eat and all other basic necessities: Capitalism with zero poverty.

    • “Shortages are not caused by consumers.”

      Woah there, ideologue. You cannot simply ignore the fact that Venezuelans are consuming much more than they were a decade ago. Consumption has drastically increased due to the fact that under previous governments many sectors could barely afford to eat, and now they can. Government statistics show that Venezuela consumed 26.8 million tons of food last year, almost double the 13.8 million tons consumed in 1999, the year the Chavez government came to power. Regardless, officials say basic goods are more available than ever to all sectors of society thanks to food subsidies, price controls, and government-run supermarket chains such as Mercal and Pdval.

      • yes, when “officials say”, count on honestly to believe their every word, because he or she does not live in the failed economy of sustained, skyrocketed oil prices, when compared to pre and early Chávez years. Keep spinning, ideologue.

      • honestly, your argument does not counter the quote. Sudden increases in demand can cause shortages, but free markets are the most efficient means of preventing such shortages as well as getting past them in optimal time.

        As to the numbers of your example, why would double the demand for food cause shortages at a time when the goverment has five times the oil income, which translates to many more times the spending money, since costs of budgeted items need not be spent again, so the new income is pure extra?

  15. Shortages are merely a part of the conditioning process for future cannon-fodder and their home-front supporters. Soon, you’ll see headlines telling you that the shortages are notaninsufficiency, rather, rations have actually been increased a la Orwell.

  16. Just a word to Arturo: we know who you are, just travel yourself,and you will have your eyes opened!

  17. An interesting article in local press recently: 1/3 of Hondurans live on $!.00 or less a day, many scavenging in dumps for even a bone to make soup=Venezuela without oil (in spite of other natural resources), and =Venezuela with oil at some time in the future under the Bolirobarian Revolution.

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