Hoarding in Venezuela – Stockpiling Food Banned!
I saw this article a week or two ago and have been thinking a little bit about it. Recently Barack Obama’s administration slapped new sanctions on Venezuela and plummeting oil prices have put a hurt on Venezuela’s economy. I forgot exactly where they rank in the world’s oil production, but they’re the fourth largest supplier to the US market. Oil is pretty much all they have to offer, besides world-class supermodels. I saw one article that said that oil is 95% of Venezuela’s exports.
Venezuela has a command economy and the government kicks back a lot of oil profits to the people in the way of subsidized food, energy and health care. Now that the oil revenues are down, they’re in the red and it’s really hard to take things away/say “hey, we can’t afford it” to the populace. Food isn’t as plentiful as it used to be due to stable foreign currencies not coming in (their currency has tanked) and people are getting worried and grabbing up everything they can (understandably).
Nicolas Maduro, president of Venezuela, launched a rationing program involving a nationwide system of finger scanners in order to limit people from buying more than their share. They claim that the problem stems from Colombians (the “bad guys” – the conservative US ally in Latin America) crossing the border and buying up cheap, subsidized food in Venezuela and then selling it on the black market. I’m sure that *does* happen, but I doubt that’s what’s actually causing the problem, which is that Venezuela has their balls in a vice due to low oil prices and a lot of “unfunded liabilities”. I heard somewhere that their system banks on oil being at least $80 a barrel, especially considering that the cost of extraction down there is a lot higher than it is in other major oil producing states.
Maduro went on state TV (in a sweet Venezuela track jacket!) and demonstrated the program in a modern, well-stocked supermarket. He also blamed the US, the Colombians and the right-wingers in Venezuela who wish to undermine the government by hoarding food. Fortunately for him, he really does have a lot of formidable boogeymen to choose from and made a pretty compelling case that it’s due to outside interference. I have no idea if this is causing “national solidarity” or if the food shortages are undermining Maduro’s regime (which of course is a regime the US government would like to undermine).
This story is getting some mileage in prepper/survivalist circles as a warning that some day this could happen here in a pinch and that some day it may be illegal to buy/have more food than it’s decided that you need. Perhaps. I think the bigger picture is a little more about the way governments can act in a tight spot as far as rolling out new controls, blaming outsiders and fostering the “us vs. them” mentality as well as the economic turbulence low oil prices are causing in some volatile places in the world right now, like Venezuela (and Iran and Russia). Drastic times usually get dealt with by drastic measures. We’ll see how this all pans out…