An angry mob of hungry Venezuelans clashed with security forces Thursday as they tried to loot stores for food. Because of the violent confrontations in the town of Arapuey, several were killed, more than a dozen were injured, and roughly 100 were arrested, according to AFP. This comes about a week after starving citizens ransacked a food collection center and a state-run supermarket in Merida, resulting in four deaths and 10 injuries.
With more of the population becoming desperate for food, Venezuela will experience more of these outbursts, and there is nothing President Nicolas Maduro and his henchmen can do about it. Well, unless he relinquishes his Marxist obsessions and embraces free market capitalism, which is unlikely to occur.
Thanks to the hallmarks of socialism – price controls, production quotas, and nationalization of industries – millions of Venezuelans have plunged into poverty – deep poverty. The food shortage has prompted experts to declare the oil-rich state’s situation a humanitarian crisis.
How can a country with some of the richest crude reserves in the world languish in destitute?
It’s easy: socialism.
Food Crisis Worsening
Observers estimate that more than half the country is facing extreme hunger – 75% of the population lost nearly 20 pounds during 2016. Despairing Venezuelans have resorted to slaughtering cattle, zoo animals, and abandoned dogs and cats just to eat.
Maduro and his totalitarian regime have tried many inane policies over the years to magically spur enormous supplies of food overnight. For instance, last year, the Maduro government launched a crusade against bread makers, prohibiting long lines at bakeries, mandating the sale of bread at 6 a.m., and forcing shops to use 90% of wheat supplies. Should they violate these policies, their businesses would be expropriated and managed by the Committee for Supply and Production (CSAP).
In front of a cheering crowd, Maduro promised his supporters that he would make them “pay.”
Did the measure succeed? No.
Concerned that Venezuelans would realize the paucity of bread inventories, Maduro raised the minimum wage a handful of times, hiked pay rates for civil servants, and installed forced labor.
In recent weeks, the ruling socialists have attempted other strategies to see if anything would alleviate the disaster. Maduro announced that his government would give pregnant women a monthly cash subsidy of 700,000 to one million bolivars – impressive numbers, but only worth $3.90 to $5.50 American. Maduro is also reportedly considering permitting food donations from around the world, but only if he is allowed to determine how the food is distributed – because central planning has so far been an instrument of triumph!
But it isn’t only a food shortage that is leaving Venezuelans to wither away. Basic essentials, medical supplies, and clean water cannot be found in the petrostate. Diseases and illnesses are spreading, primarily because doctors and nurses do not have the supplies to treat sick patients.
The public can only be grateful for the black market. Despite the clampdown by the military, underground economies are quietly operating in slums, selling everything from soap to milk. The prices for simple goods are higher than what the government deems fair, but the state’s intervention is what caused the shortages in the first place. These black-market entrepreneurs are heroes right now.
With the repressive government’s army taking more control of the nation’s food, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the underground economy to thrive and survive. How unfortunate.
Hyperinflation Tops 5,000%
Venezuela’s printing press must be on steroids, as the annual inflation rate has topped 5,000%.
Former Socialist Party lawmaker Ricardo Sanguino, who is now head of the central banks, thinks that the country can print its way to prosperity. That hasn’t been the case so far.
If an impoverished citizen miraculously comes across an empanada, cornstarch, or toilet paper, the person would be unable to buy the item. The bolivar’s value has been eviscerated, causing consumers to carry wheelbarrows or duffle bags of cash a la 1920s Weimar Republic.
The world hasn’t seen such hyperinflation levels since Zimbabwe’s currency disintegrated about a decade ago. At the time, former President Robert Mugabe had to ditch the Zimbabwe dollar, depending on the greenback, the euro, and the yuan.
Unfortunately, the Latin American country’s economic collapse will only be exacerbated as the hyperinflation worsens.
Maduro thinks he has come up with the perfect solution: a cryptocurrency backed by gold, oil, gas, and diamonds. This might work in theory, but since socialists have never been the champions of sound money, you can’t get your hopes up.
Even if Venezuela adopted a stable currency policy, there is nothing left in the nation to buy.
Another Socialist Failure in the Books
The socialist paradise is a living hell for millions of hungry Venezuelans. This is what you get when you mix socialism, central planning, money-printing, and crazed leadership.
It doesn’t matter if The New York Times and John Oliver are blind to the source of Venezuela’s misery. It doesn’t matter how many times a hipster from Greenwich Village, infatuated with Karl Marx and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), shrieks about how this isn’t real socialism. It’s like the old Chico Marx joke, “Who are you going to believe? Me or your own eyes?”
Every incarnation of the failed ideology produces widespread anguish and wreaks havoc on the masses. Nicolas Maduro. Kim Jong-un. Raul Casto. None of these men will Make Socialism Great Again because socialism has never been great. And, no, bread makers are not the masterminds of our woes.
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