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.  

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