Venezuela. Once one of the richest countries. Its oil reserves the third largest in the world.
By the mid 2000s, everyone was eating. Average consumption 2,790 calories a day. Thanks to Hugo Chavez. Venezuela’s President from 1999 to 2013.
Chavez was a SOCIALIST among socialists. He wanted everything for the people. With the people making minimal contribution to paying for things. The government would pay.
Oil was big. Chavez smarter than the oil companies. He nationalized the oil companies and other foreign industries. with the stroke of a pen. All profits then went to the Venezuelan people.
Chavez’s goal was to expand access to food, housing, health care, and education. He initially succeeded in all areas.
Eventually however, Chavez’s extreme socialism began to falter. A society cannot be the end all to all. Especially when few contribute in any significant degree to their own support.
Oil revenues fell. The high oil profits of 2003-2007 became a thing of the past. It was oil profits that sustained Chavez’s socialistic society.
Food a perfect example. Chavez fed everyone. Till the ceiling caved in.
Chavez had the price of all food stuffs set with a ceiling. The people paid no more. The government picked up the tab for the rest. The rest equating to significantly more than the people could directly pay.
Literally, everyone got fat.
Most of the food was not grown in Venezuela by Venezuelan farmers. It was imported. The oil profits were more than sufficient to pay the cost.
When things started getting bad, Chavez got sick. The two not related. The last four years of his life Chavez was fighting to save his life and Venezuela’s at the same time.
Chavez died in 2013 from a massive heart attack and advanced colon cancer. Venezuela had become corrupt. He had opposition. There are those who believe Chavez was murdered.
Nicolas Maduro became President. Inept and incompetent from day one. A puppet of the military. The generals wanted to rule Venezuela. From 2013-2016, they succeeded. Today, the generals run everything. They hold all cabinet posts. They hold Maduro in their hands. He dances to their tune.
The government is corrupt. The generals are eating, economically and food wise. They want for nothing. As does the puppet Maduro. And a handful of high level civilians.
At the same time, the people starve.
The first inkling of a problem came in 2013. Maduro had been President less than a year. Venezuela ran out of toilet paper. Once a person is without, the realization hits home that toilet paper is a necessity of life.
There is still a shortage of toilet paper.
Store shelves had less and less food. Eventually no food. People waiting in lines for hours. When finally in the store, nothing remained for sale.
In 2014, food shortages hit 28 percent. In 2015, 75 percent. Forget the percentages in this year of 2016. Famine has moved in. Maduro has declared a national food crisis.
Food has become precious.
The New York Times described the situation as follows: “Venezuela is convulsing from hunger.”
2016 also became the year that water became in poor supply.
Inflation is expected to exceed 700 percent by November.
There is no work. Factories cannot operate. There is no electricity. Maduro provides electricity 1-2 days a week. Maintenance has been neglected thereby causing the inability to produce electricity.
Families need food. People have been forced to extreme measures.
Last year, garbage was a source of sustenance. However, garbage pails only hold so much food products that last only so long when many are searching. Then a point is reached where there is no garbage. People have nothing or little to eat.
Stealing a neighbor’s food came next. Only so much to steal, however.
This year evidences just how bad things have become.
Home pets, generally dogs and cats, were killed and eaten by families. If a family could not kill such a loved one or could not afford to feed the pet, the pet was dropped off on a highway. There others not fond of the pet would pick it up and take the pet home for dinner.
Pets are no longer in supply.
Next were the zoos. In the last thirty days. First chickens, rabbits and the like were stolen and eaten. Then larger zoo animals.
Very recently, a Caracas zoo was broken into in the middle of the night. A black stallion was one of the zoo’s featured animals. When zoo staff arrived in the morning, all that was left of the horse were its head and ribs.
What next? Hunger goes on at the same time the food supply dwindles even further. Cadavers? I don’t know.
To appreciate Mommy, I’m hungry, consider the following.
Families only eat every second day. Some every third. Only one meal. Children included.
Children are malnourished. They faint in class. Some die. Their bodies nothing but skin and bones. The outline of ribs visible. Hands swollen. Skin stuck to bones. Bellies swollen.
Mothers try to make babies sleep till noon to avoid a breakfast of non-existent milk/food.
Whatever is available to eat is fried. With flour. Empty calories. Unhealthy. Nevertheless, adults and children develop bellies. The battle of the bulge. Not a healthy fat, if there is one.
People eat what they can find. What they find is not healthy.
There is a black market. Except for the generals and a handful of people, the others are poor. They cannot afford black market prices.
Meat. What meat? Most have not eaten meat since last December.
On the rare occasions food is available, the cost for a family of five for bare necessities for a month is $226. The problem is few are working. There is no work.
$226 is a lot of money. Especially in a society where the average monthly salary of one working is $15 a month
Medicines/hospitals are the same. Not enough of anything.
Diseases such as malaria and mange have returned. These diseases were eradicated years ago. Neither inoculations nor medicines exists. People are once again vulnerable.
Dengue fever a problem. The disease was controlled with medication. No medication means dengue is likely to be a death sentence.
There are no medicines to treat HIV/Aids. Many HIV inflicted are moving into the Aids category because necessary medicines are lacking.
Hospitals have neither equipment nor medicines. They are filthy. Cleaning products not available. Nor gloves, saline, antibiotics, painkillers, morphine, and anesthesia.
Operations cannot be performed. Not only because of a lack of what is listed in the preceding paragraph. There is no electric power. Therefore, no air conditioning. The risk of bacterial infection becomes too high to operate.
Cockroaches on every floor and every wall.
There is a sick humor to all this. People are dying. There are no coffins. Cannot be manufactured nor imported. No power, no money.
Chavez hated America. He thought Bush 2 was the devil. Recall his sulfur comment before the United Nations.
Chavez was close friends with Fidel Castro and Raul Castro. As is Maduro.
As Castro blamed the United States for everything for fifty years, Chavez and Maduro blame the United States also. Especially Maduro.
Maduro claims the United States caused Chavez’s cancer colon by secretly infecting him with cancer. He further claims the people are poor and without food because of Americans. Finally, he keeps his people in line by telling them the United States is preparing to invade. Just as Fidel Castro did.
I am not sure why I wrote about Venezuela this week. Is there a message? A lesson to be learned?
It hits home that here has to be a balance between socialism and liberalism. Both are needed in a society. However, Venezuela went to far to the left. Totally.
Beware of crazy leaders? Maduro is on the crazy side. A nut. Weigh your vote heavily in the November election.
What else, I don’t know. I think I wrote this column because it is a tale of sickness and sadness. Everyone should be aware. It could happen anywhere anytime. No nation is immune. Even the United States.