Fruits of Socialism in Venezuela: No Fruit (or Anything Else You Can Eat)

supermarket shelves empty

 

A while ago, I called for the cancellation of the Summer Olympics in Brazil due to the Zika epidemic. Since then, all sorts of additional evidence has arisen that the country is in chaos politically and economically. Certainly, no country in South America is in more trouble than Brazil, right?

Wrong. There’s our good friend Venezuela. You know, the one that called our president “El Diablo” (The Devil)?

Once a wealthy and modern nation, a popular socialist movement (think Bernie Sanders on steroids) led by Hugo Chavez caused Venezuela’s miraculous transformation into, well, Cuba. Despite this dubious plan for future prosperity, Chavez remained popular until his death in 2013. The country is now run by his hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro.

Venezuela controls huge oil reserves and counted upon high prices to prop up its socialist revolution. It worked for a while, with a trillion dollars going into the country’s coffers. Despite this windfall, socialist mismanagement was causing shortages in food and other important items. Now, with oil prices floundering, government offices are closed much of the week due to, of all things, efforts to save electricity.

Ever wonder how successful socialism is? Well, just look at Venezuela and you’ll find out.  In almost any other country, food shopping is a pretty routine part of life. You go to the supermarket; you buy as much food as you need. Pretty standard stuff.

But in Venezuela, the economy is running over a cliff at high speed. Fox News reports that food shopping has become a mission, sometimes perilous, and not a guaranteed success. It may be hours before you can even get in the door of a supermarket. Shelves are empty. Meat and toilet paper are rare or extinct commodities. People are so desperate for food that fights break out in the aisles. There’s a black market in flour, for Pete’s sake.

Recently, groups of women have crashed the border with Colombia, an illegal act, not to seek asylum (yet), but to buy groceries.

This is now part and parcel of life in Venezuela. There is looting galore in Caracas, not from jewelry or electronics stores, but from supermarkets. Sometimes, the trucks bringing the food are waylaid before they even get to the market.

If you go to the meat department of any state-run grocery store, you might find vinegar instead. Let’s face it, how much vinegar do you need in a healthy diet?

Venezuela’s crisis is not only about the distribution of food; Venezuela is just not producing much food or, really, anything. Fox News reports that, since the glorious socialist revolution began, 8000 businesses have closed their doors. 70% of those still in existence report lower production than last year. That makes Venezuela more dependent on imports, but the Maduro government recently announced that it would cut them by 46% simply because it doesn’t have the dollars to conduct international trade.

So, guess what happened? After ten years of casting aspersions at the U.S., President Maduro is now willing to restore diplomatic niceties with America. The Venezuela government sent a cordial “congrats” to the U.S. on Independence Day, and offered “to establish respectful bilateral diplomatic relations.”

What a surprise! President Maduro has seen the light. Of course, like Castro in Cuba, he won’t let a little thing like widespread poverty and hunger tear down his regime, but a little foreign aid from the Great Satan would sure come in handy right about now.

Should we watch as hungry Venezuelans throw their socialist politicians into a cauldron to make stew? I know that we’re supposed to be the heroes (suckers) in this story. We always are, it seems, but should we  prop up another failed state like President Obama is propping up Cuba? It hasn’t changed the political situation there, so why should we believe that propping up Maduro will change the situation in Venezuela?

So let’s say “thanks, how about giving us a year or two to think about your generous offer?” By then, the Venezuelan people will probably be hungry enough to realize the awesome results of socialism as a form of government. Tough love, perhaps, but America should become a little tougher on the bad actors of the world.

 

Joe Alton, MD is a disaster and epidemic preparedness expert and NYT/Amazon bestselling author whose latest book is “The Zika Virus Handbook”. He is the host of “American Survival Radio” in collaboration with Genesis Communications Network.

 

 

 

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