Socialism simply doesn’t work. It has never worked, and it is never going to work. Venezuela is a case-study in the failures of Socialism, the bastard stepchild of Marxism.
With the socialist economy in Venzuela having reached freefall levels thanks to failed socialist economic models and methods, inflation has hit rates rarely seen in history anywhere on Earth. Things are literally so bad, deli scales & cash registers can’t count high enough.
“We don’t have any.”
Living in Venezuela, you get used to hearing that, but the story behind the missing ham was different. It’s not that supermarket managers were having trouble finding enough to sell—the typical cause of shortages ravaging the country—they had decided to stop ordering it. The reason: After years of hyperinflation, the price is too long.
The store’s deli scales run to only six digits. And ham, my Whatsapp food-hunting community tells me, is retailing nowadays for about 1,480,000 bolivars per kilogram. It didn’t matter that I wanted only a few hundred milligrams. The cost was, at this market at least, incalculable.
A similar dynamic is impeding the use of credit and debit cards. The price of a set of sheets (33,541,963), a pair of Adidas sneakers (10,500,000) or even a slice of lasagna (401,450) can’t fit on the screens of older card machines; the solution is to split one purchase into several transactions. Even the invoice printers that many businesses use for reports to tax authorities are running out of space.
It would seem to be only a matter of time before the Maduro regime opts to reset the value of the currency to ease these logistical headaches. It’s been 10 years since officials first tried such a move, lopping off three zeros and rebranding it “the strong bolivar.”
That strength didn’t last long. As the government cranked up printing presses to finance extravagant spending plans with fresh cash, inflation soared. There are no official figures but, by all accounts, prices are rising faster than ever. Bloomberg’s gauge, the Cafe Con Leche Index, estimates that inflation has been running at an annualized pace of more than 82,000 percent over the past three months.
Back at the supermarket, the clerk told me they’re trying to fix the scale so they know how much to charge. They’d better add a whole lot of digits.
Meanwhile, as the government clings to power, Maduro is having political dissidents arrested, one of whom was once in his cabinet.
Venezuelan security forces on Tuesday detained Miguel Rodriguez, a dissident former interior minister, on accusations he was conspiring to destabilize the government of unpopular leftist President Nicolas Maduro.
The arrest follows last week’s detention of nine army officers on charges including treason and rebellion, according to a local rights group, as dissent mounts in parts of the military due to food shortages and hyperinflation.
“The criminal actions planned by this man and his accomplices included armed actions and conspiracies against our constitution,” the government said in a statement read on state television.
It did not provide details or evidence to support the charges. Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not reply to a request for comment.
Rodriguez was arrested during an event at the President Hotel in Caracas, said Indira Urbaneja, an aide to Rodriguez who witnessed the detention. A video circulating on social media showed agents escorting him into a white van amid commotion.
An army major-general who was jailed with late leader Hugo Chavez, Rodriguez in 2014 led a crackdown on opposition protests that set off widespread accusations of arbitrary arrests, inhumane detentions and torture to obtain confessions.
But he later broke with the government and created a political movement called Everyone’s Challenge. He publicly criticized Maduro and discussed a bid for the presidency, but in February was barred from holding office on alleged administrative irregularities, according to local media.
Government officials then accused him of being the mentor of Oscar Perez, a helicopter pilot who led a 2017 attack on government buildings and was killed in a January military operation that opposition leaders described as a massacre.
Critics say Rodriguez’s detention is further evidence that Maduro has become a dictator. They say the former bus driver and union leader, who lacks Chavez’s charisma, is seeking to consolidate his position ahead of May presidential elections by arresting or sidelining dissenters.
But the arrest of Rodriguez, once a powerful politician who still retains sympathy from some officials, could also worsen splits within the ruling Socialist Party, once firmly united under Chavez.
Maduro, for his part, says his ideological foe the United States is seeking to unseat him to gain control of Venezuela’s large oil reserves.
In a recent interview with the CNN En Espanol television channel, Rodriguez was asked about the risks he was taking.
“If that earns me jail, the government will have to explain what it invented to imprison me,” Rodriguez responded at the time.
So the questions remain. When will the coup happen, and when will America’s socialists finally realize that socialist policies and socialism simply do not work?
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
March 14th, 2018