Meat cuts vanished from Venezuelan supermarkets this week, leaving only unsavory bits like chicken feet, while costly artificial sweeteners have increasingly replaced sugar, and many staples sell far above government-fixed prices.Allow me to illustrate. In Venezuela, this:
Hunk of meat.
Has been replaced by this:
Chicken feet (soup). (Don't be rude, wave back.)
Normally this would be enough to cure most people of socialism all by itself. Hugo, however, has a classic excuse:
President Hugo Chavez's administration blames the food supply problems on unscrupulous speculators, but industry officials say government price controls that strangle profits are responsible . . . .
Shortages have sporadically appeared with items from milk to coffee since early 2003, when Chavez began regulating prices for 400 basic products as a way to counter inflation and protect the poor.
Yet inflation has soared to an accumulated 78 percent in the last four years in an economy awash in petrodollars, and food prices have increased particularly swiftly, creating a widening discrepancy between official prices and the true cost of getting goods to market in Venezuela.
But really, who could have predicted that price controls would cause shortages and inflation?
Hate to tell you, Ana, but if Venezuela continues down the road of every other socialist paradise, the next problem Hugo will fix is your big mouth. Socialist paradises have a thing about grumblers, dear.
At a giant outdoor market held last weekend by the government to address the problems, a street vendor crushed raw sugar cane to sell juice to weary shoppers waiting in line to buy sugar.
''They say there are no shortages, but I'm not finding anything in the stores,'' grumbled Ana Diaz, a 70-year-old housewife. ''There's a problem somewhere, and it needs to be fixed.''
(via the surprisingly erudite blog of Ashley and Naomi--I mean, the Brothers Judd)
Update: Hey grandpa, what's for supper?