Thursday, April 28, 2016

Venezuela's Hunger Games

Three months have gone by.  So, of course, it is time to blog about Venezuela!

How bad is the situation there?
“Venezuela Doesn't Have Enough Money to Pay for Its Money.”
Yes, you read that right.
The situation is so bad that the government appears unable to pay for the new bills it has ordered from foreign currency makers (because, like almost all things, Venezuela has to import its money).
I don't think any dictionary has enough words to describe the conditions there.  I so want to ask the colleague who was always in utter praise of the architect of this mess--Hugo Chavez--what she now thinks about him and the successor, Nicolas Maduro, that he handpicked.
When President Hugo Chavez passed away in 2013, he left behind a stunted national economy almost wholly dependent on oil production. As a result, the collapse of crude prices has been disastrous. All the while, an ill-advised system of currency and price controls, partly meant to curb inflation, have led to shortages of basic goods and a thriving black-market economy.  
And what is the inflation rate?  Sit down and take a deep breath before you find out!

No food, no toilet paper, no condoms, and now?  No electricity!  So, what is Maduro's temporary fix?
Venezuela's years-long economic disintegration hit a sad new milestone on Tuesday, when President Nicolas Maduro announced that government employees would work only on Mondays and Tuesdays for at least the next two weeks to save scarce electricity.
Under these circumstances, you wouldn't expect the people to just sit back and wait for life to unfold, especially when it is already one of the most violent countries, right?
Angry residents in darkened towns around the country took to the streets Tuesday night, setting up flaming barricades and raiding shops for bread and other scarce food.
On Wednesday, more than 1,000 police fanned out around the western city of Maracaibo after a night of riots.
And to think that less than thirty years ago, I was in Maracaibo, enjoying arepas with cheese :(
Caracas is being spared from the rolling blackouts and has not seen violent protests. Some Venezuelans complain that the country is starting to resemble the dystopian series "The Hunger Games," in which districts suffer for the benefit of a heartless capital city.
"Dystopian" is the word, yes.  


Mike Hoth said...

Unfortunately, fantasy often becomes reality. While Venezuela is devolving into The Hunger Games, continued water shortages in the southwestern US remind me of another piece of fantasy. In that work of fiction (for now) a dystopian Las Vegas breaks into factions battling over the Hoover Dam. We humans are short-sighted as a species when warned of impending trouble. Venezuela knew (and OPEC knows) an oil-based economy couldn't last forever. All the Americans living next to golf courses in the desert know water is a finite resource, but we still keep them green!

It's easier to believe we're a younger species than 100,000+ years when I think about how quickly we wipe ourselves out despite all the warnings.

Sriram Khé said...

You don't even have to imagine such a scenario. Water is right now a huge crisis in most of India. More than 300 million people are struggling with the combination of drought, above-average high temperatures, and a monsoon season that is weeks away. Despite the terrible conditions, it took a lawsuit to stop watering the cricket grounds--people are moronic enough to think an entertainment like cricket is far more important than water for humans and cattle!
We live in a world of misplaced priorities, and increasingly so. Whether it is in Venezuela or India or the US, apparently we humans are all equally messed up :( Perhaps it should surprise us that we have made it this far without getting wiped out!

Ramesh said...

My comment is going to be a tribute to the quality of commenting that Mike brings to this blog. I know he is a young man, but he writes with the wisdom of a sage. Balanced, incisive and articulated very well. Take a bow Mike, your comment is one to be treasured, for it brings home the short sightedness of our species so well in just a paragraph.

Note to the Prof Yes, I know its your blog and all words of praise are supposed to be for the blogger - perhaps I can compliment you for attracting such high quality commenters such as Mike and Anne.

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