The crisis in Venezuela continues to spiral out of control as the nation’s socialist policies come home to roost. Here are the statistics. In February 2015, there was an 80-90% shortage rate of milk (powdered and liquid), margarine, butter, sugar, beef, chicken, pasta, cheese, corn flour, wheat flour, oil, rice, coffee, toilet paper, diapers, laundry detergent, bar soap, bleach, dish, shampoo and soap toilet. Source here. Permaculture solutions could feed this nation.
In the darkness the warehouse looks like any other, a metal-roofed hangar next to a clattering overpass, with homeless people sleeping nearby in the shadows.
But inside, workers quietly unload black plastic crates filled with merchandise so valuable that mobs have looted delivery vehicles,shot up the windshields of trucks and hurled a rock into one driver’s eye. Soldiers and police milling around the loading depots give this neighborhood the feel of a military garrison.
“It’s just cheese,” said Juan Urrea, a 29-year-old driver, as workers unloaded thousands of pounds of white Venezuelan queso from his delivery truck. “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
The fight for food has begun in Venezuela. On any day, in cities across this increasingly desperate nation, crowds form to sack supermarkets. Protesters take to the streets to decry the skyrocketing prices and dwindling supplies of basic goods. The wealthy improvise, some shopping online for food that arrives from Miami. Middle-class families make do with less: coffee without milk, sardines instead of beef, two daily meals instead of three. The poor are stripping mangoes off the trees and struggling to survive.
Shopping in Venezuela is a daily nightmare, requiring hours each day, patience, luck and a good sense of logistics. Many days impromptu protests over the lack of food and cooking gas, or growing lawlessness, close main thoroughfares as residents barricade streets in protests, blocking access to stores.
And lines often start at 3 a.m., making it difficult for me and my immediate neighbors, who live in a mountain village 40 minutes outside La Victoria, to arrive in time to have a chance to acquire hard to find items. Sometimes, a few intrepid neighbors spend the night sleeping on the sidewalks in front of the supermarkets, braving rain, thugs and rats, to have a chance at gaining a favorable position in line.
Venezuela’s economic collapse is due to many factors: falling oil prices that have reduced the country’s revenue, but also a socialist revolution that has resulted in the expropriation of more than 1,200 companies and the imposition of stifling price and foreign exchange controls that have crushed businesses and slashed national production.
What has been a slow-motion crisis in Venezuela seems to be careening into a new, more dangerous phase. The long economic decline of the country with the world’s largest oil reserves now shows signs of morphing into a humanitarian emergency, with government mismanagement and low petroleum prices leading to widespread shortages and inflation that could surpass 700 percent this year.
The political stakes are mounting. Exhausted by government-imposed power blackouts, spiraling crime, endless food lines, shortages of medicine and waves of looting and protest, citizens are mobilizing against their leaders. In recent days, Venezuelans lined up to add their names to a recall petition that aims to bring down the country’s president, Nicolas Maduro, and put an end to the socialist-inspired “revolution” ignited 17 years ago by Hugo Chavez.