This gringo rice farmer's Bahamas vacation is brought to you by Bolivarian Socialism.

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Brazilian beef, Nicaraguan beans, Gringostani rice...hey, I guess the platanos are still Venezuelan, right? TENEMOS PATRIA!
Brazilian beef, Nicaraguan beans, Gringostani rice…but hey, I guess the baranda is still Venezuelan, right? TENEMOS PATRIA!

When back-assward bolivarian policy making decimates the Venezuelan rice sector, guess who picks up the slack? The WSJ looks for the cheese on the “Food Sovereignty” tostada. There’s even a nice video!

[Take] rice farmer Eloy Alvarez. Born in Spain, Mr. Alvarez came to Venezuela in the 1940s and saw the promise in Venezuela’s hot and wet central plains, land that lends itself to rice growing. He bought some land for a song, and he and his wife spent 60 years farming it.

They eventually acquired 500 acres and raised two daughters and sent them to private school. In the early 2000s, the farm was producing its maximum of seven metric tons of rice a year.

But in recent years, Mr. Alvarez’s fortunes changed. The government set prices for rice and other products. With prices fixed but inflation rising, it became harder to afford equipment. He stopped buying new tractors and instead tried to fix his old ones. Import controls, however, made even parts hard to come by.

The 2010 nationalization of Venezuela’s main farm-supply company compounded the problems. Farmers say it is now often late in delivering basics, like fertilizer. That same year, weeds choked Mr. Alvarez’s rice crop—the result, he says, of herbicide delays. He now produces about 30% less than in the past.

Recently on Mr. Alvarez’s farm, a decades-old Ford tractor stood rusting in a shed. On a flat expanse of field, under a flock of circling white birds, another timeworn machine moved slowly, struggling to reap a rice field overrun with weeds.

“You can’t get the herbicide,” said Alexi Chambuco, 63 years old, one of Mr. Alvarez’s farmhands, wiping his face with a handkerchief. “And now it’s difficult to harvest.”

[Hat tip: CS]

1 COMMENT

  1. Its a good thing the Venezuelan people are distracted talking about Carreños homophobic tirade and the closing down of Globovisión, if not, the government would actually have to do something about the crippling economic situation the country faces.

    • Of, course. It must be the fault of the corrupt rice farmer. With a new enabling law, we can force this 63 year old man to work harder.

  2. Socialism in action-destroyed production and the economy in the grip of ideological imbeciles who shuffle along in compounding stupidity blaming everyone and everything but themselves until Venezuela is as destitute as the socialist paradise Cuba. If you speak out you are a traitor.

    • And Dave, if you write crap on a flight of imagaination like you do, you are not better tan an imbecile. WTF do you know about food prdouction in Venezuela or by how much the population and food demand has SKYROCKETED in the last 20 years? You have no idea either about Venezuela or about Cuba for that matter.

      • Arturo, unless you can show that food demand has multiplied itself times something based on the number ten (what the price of oil has increased per barrel), then what we are seeing is a multiplication of inefficiency and corruption, not of anything any other nation should be imitating.

        Think of it this way. If with what you earn you can pay all your utilities and rent and still have half your household be hungry, then with suddenly earning ten times as much, you should be able to pay ten utilities and ten rents and the food for five times the number of people in your household with no one going hungry. But in Venezuela, that is not what we’re seeing. We still see hungry people and a nation in debt and overbudget. Again, not the type of financing behavior example for anyone.

      • If demand has skyrocketed, why supply has not expanded to satisfy that demand? Skyrocketing demand means potentially huge profits, no? The promise of extraordinary profits are usually a very effective incentive for private investors. However, if private investors prefer to give up the chance to earn a lot of money so as to harm the government, why have not the revolutionary programs worked? The Bolivarian government has spent billions establishing an endless succession of programs to support agriculture and the rest of value chain involved in food production. What happened with that? Don’t bother to answer, please.

  3. Lies? There was a guy who wrote for the New York Times a while back and said the same thing about a country being accused of using food production as a political tool. Lies! It was all a sham according to this reporter. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his dispatches from,…..Moscow. His name was Walter Duranty. You may have heard of him. While over 6 million people were dying in the streets of Kiev and Kharkov from starvation, Walter Duranty labelled any such reports coming out of the ‘socialist paradise’ known as the Soviet Union as,…. lies. Like you, he was eyebrow deep in the Kool-Aid.

  4. So the government legislates against private businesses until they’re crippled wreaking further havoc on the economy and the standard response from Chavistas is.. “it’s all lies”? That’s obviously more of a poorly thought out troll response but what would a prominent socialist scholar say about this? I’m just curious because I always felt that in Venezuela there is often a sense of naivety in the heart of well-meaning Chavistas (the few I have talked with) but back in the US I never hear anything but ad hominem or reactionary “omg how dare you insult socialism” vitriol from these silver-spoon first-world socialist ideologues. I’m always left scratching my head thinking “well what’s your actual argument?” I have yet to speak with someone who truly believes in Chavismo AND can provide intelligent explanation for the condition of the country, especially in light of the endless anecdotes such as the one provided here in this post.

  5. I honestly can’t tell if you’re just trolling to get a reaction out of people or you’re just that insane. Lets hope its the first.

    • Actually, I hope is the second. There is medication for schizophrenia, but if a person is stupid enough to do that kind of trolling then nothing will cure him.

    • The irony of Venezuela’s policies benefiting the average taxpayer in the Empire by dropping the subsidy on rice $350,000,000 is…(with some caraotas y jamón) delicious.

      “Hecho en socialsimo en beneficio del Imperio!”

      I’m starting to want to get on this Maduro or Death bandwagon so we can pay off our deficit.

  6. Hello, scratched record.
    Hello, scratched record.
    Hello scratched record.
    Hello, scratched record.
    Hello, scratched record.

  7. What BS you all write. I can go to Las Mercedes and have a Rodizio wuth prime Brazilian beef. I can eat Chilean salmon or New Zealand lamb in Venezuela. The whole point of this post is to imply that Venezuela is not producing enough food and had to import. So what if it has to import? The fact is that 30% of food (excluding wheat whi8ch is not sown here) is imported these days – far less tan in the 1990’s.

    Things are much better than 10 years ago in fact they are so good that obesity is becoming a public health problem.

    And I suppose that this propaganda – since that it is all that ut is – is more credible tan the FAO award to Venezuela for having combated humger more tan any other country this century.

    Go figure why Toro and Nagel write this stuff. Easy – they are paid to do this with dirty money. No one writes for Foreign Affairs web site unless they are compromised with one of the US institution – (CIA. NSA, NED. ISAID – take your pick.

    Things are so bad that despite sky high air fares a record number of people passed through Maiquetía on Saturday. Talking about Saturday – to the the big Excélsior Gama in Santa Eduvigis on that day and it is imposible to even get a shopping cart. Fatties everywhere.

    Go to the Abasto Bicentenario is san bernmardino any morning and there is a line to buy the subsidized products there. And there is milk and all the dairy products you want.

    Sorry guys – but this level on propaganda is falling to the sewer depths of La Pailla and dolartoday.com

    • No one writes for Foreign Affairs web site unless they are compromised with one of the US institution – (CIA. NSA, NED. ISAID – take your pick.)

      Oh this one really is precious!

      I love the transference from the Cuban model. Because it certainly is true that if you’re not in tight with G2, you don’t get to write for Prensa Latina. And if you’ve built up your understanding of how media works from THAT model, well…the conclusion just follows!

      …totally lovely, Arturo. Please more!

      • Hear! Hear! Arturo has really outdone himself this time. Each paragraph is priceless in itself, and so comical and amusing that we shouldn’t even bother putting him straight, but just enjoy this wonderful moment of levity, in what is the ongoing tragic collapse of what was once wonderful Venezuela.

      • “i know you are but what am i!” “i know you are but what am i!”

        as if under the illusion that you are the first human being to discover that you can dodge any criticism at all by redirecting it right back mutatis mutandis at the person making it.

        this routine gesture of yours is utterly moronic, esp. in this case, since Arturo is writing not for Prensa Latina, but in the comments section of CC, where he has no financial incentive to say anything. your little spell reversal fails so spectacularly here i can’t be the only one to have noticed–but don’t worry, your readers are far too polite to say anything. unlike mere blog commentators, CC writers do get paid to write for publications; how sure are you it’s just a coincidence that your views happen to align ultimately with the interests of their owners?

        • Can you read? Toro pointed out that anyone writing for state media had to be vetted by the G2, not that Arturo is.

          Everyone here realizes Arturo is just a silly troll with no connections anywhere.

    • Sorry, Arturo, but with 10 times the price of oil, the things you describe still don’t sound like they are anywhere near 10 times better than before, which is an absolute minimum. You see, you can’t have it both ways. Let’s say that the amount necessary to run the country properly is X. If you claim that things were not properly run before the increase in price of oil, then you are implying that X was less than or equal to their income back then and should have been sufficient to run the country properly. But if the current government is getting at least 5X, and the costs of running the country properly was covered with the first X, then where are the other 4X going?

      In other words, with the government’s current income, it should be able to properly run 5 Venezuela’s. Instead, it’s not even running one properly.

    • “they are paid to do this with dirty money. ”

      Says the guy eating New Zealand lamb in Las Mercedes.

      In any case, you’re completely desfasado. The current sock-puppet marching orders are not to deny the reality of the shortages but to blame them on the store-owners (starting with the foreigners) and their vast mercantilist conspiracy against the revolution. Don’t you read Aporrea?!?

    • Oh Artie, you look like such a dinosaur calling people here agents of the CIA, the new thing right now is wishing you could send them to Cuban labor camps. Maybe is time to hang up the Ché profile pic and give a chance to the newer generations of Internet chavista bigots that are starting their name calling careers in dissident blogs.

    • There is not a strong correlation between a country’s economy or how “good things are” and an obesity epidemic. In fact it was recently announced that Mexico’s obesity rate surpassed the USA.. and within wealthy nations such as the USA and UK, obesity disproportionately affects the poorest people. In other words, seeing fat people doesn’t mean everything is okay.

      • Obesity and socioeconomic status are not directly correlated in developed countries for the general population and men (which dilute the general population down since they make up 49+%. In women, there is a strong inverse correlation between obesity and socioeconomic status and/or educational attainment. Curiously, the poorest households in the U.S. tend to be headed by single women/mothers, which holds true with the latter. Could be a chicken/egg thing.

        In developing countries, however, there is a pretty strong direct correlation still between wealth and obesity. It is most pronounced in sub-Saharan Africa and to a lesser extent, LatAm.

        • I think maybe you’re referring to a case by case “he’s rich so now he’s eating well and therefore he becoming fat” but I’m referring to nationwide epidemics and if there is a direct link between obesity and wealth then how are Mexico and Guatemala ranking so.. fat nationwide? It certainly isn’t because the average Guatemalan is rolling in the dough. Not to take the conversation off-track or anything. There were plenty of inane things mentioned by Arturo, the obesity comment just stuck out to me.

    • “As a starter, I’ll have some of that Chilean smoked salmon, followed by the New Zealand lamb (no, not the Brazilian beef-I had that yesterday), and finiished off by some of those Marrons Glaces–and, oh, here’s my platinum Banco Bicentenario credit card.”–Reminds me of one of Fidel Castro’s nephews some years ago, living in Puerto La Cruz at the time, heavily-guarded by Venezuelan security forces, enjoying the beaches, casinos, and even hunting in the hinterland, commenting to acquaintances, “What a wonderful country Venezuela is–too bad my uncle is going to ruin it.” (True story).

    • Arturo, a few things:

      What BS you all write. I can go to Las Mercedes and have a Rodizio wuth prime Brazilian beef. I can eat Chilean salmon or New Zealand lamb in Venezuela.

      A basic concept of economics is that price ceilings/controls generate shortages. In other words, the amount produced is not sufficient to the demand for consumption. This doesn’t mean the product is unavailable, simply that there’s insufficient amounts for everyone. The price point for consumption is either too high for the majority (where controls are circumvented) or there is a line for the goods with winners and losers (where they aren’t circumvented. Interesting that you cite Las Mercedes. Why do you suppose you could find those goods there?

      Another fun fact is that economics, with that whole study of scarce resources simply predicts a shortage. It does not mean that it will be uniform. There are factors that impact distribution, to some degree, but by and large, for the average consumer, it is entirely hit or miss and availability for consumption thus depends on mobility of the consumer. How many residents of 23 de Enero do you think will be rolling into Las Mercedes for dinner or Chilean salmon? Will they happily fork over their bolis for it, or can they find a different use for their money than your criollo enemies?

      So citing the availability of food in a district of the capital city is not proof of plenty.

      While we are talking about food…from your ideological allies at VA… The present-day reality is that Venezuela imports 70% of the food it consumes. I find it odd that you’d say that Venezuela only imports 30% of foodstuffs. The above quote was from 2009, and you mention the following, <i WTF do you know about food prdouction in Venezuela or by how much the population and food demand has SKYROCKETED in the last 20 years
      So in essence, Venezuela has, along with increased demand and population, reduced its imports from 70% to 30% in four years? That seems highly unlikely. In case you are interested, the discussion from VA is here: http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/4952

      Lastly. Maiquetia. Sweet bathroom-smelling Maquetia. It had a record number of passengers. 37,896 in 489 flights. The old record was 37,225 in 435 flights. That’s an increase of 671 people on 64 flights. If you actually look at the numbers…flight operations are actually <i less efficient based on the important air operations metric of passengers/flight. I grant you that in general, there are a number of smaller airplanes flying in Venezuela than large airliners, but still…in general, more expenditure for less people…not a great thing. By the way, who do you think is flying? Those with Cadivi dollars going in/out of the country, which is disproprtionately the wealther folk of Altamira? Or the denizens of El Cemeterio? How does this prove equity and equality for el pueblo?

    • obesity is becoming a public health problem.

      Arturo: Does the G2 have you on such a short leash that you’re intellectually incapable of looking at the bigger picture? I’m talking basics, here. Vamos por parte, mijo.

      When your government has caused crime rate to zoom since Chávez came to office, does that state of affairs encourage healthy practices, such as walking without fear, in the evening in one’s neighbourhood, preferably after supper?

      When your government shows a disdain over road maintenance and general “vialidad”, resulting in abysmal congestion and an inordinate amount of time spent in traffic, does that encourage healthy practices, engaging in activities that exercise the muscles, and contribute to a normal metabolism?

      When your government won’t allow the private marketplace — a superior mechanism for the flow of goods in a population — to engage in what it does best, resulting in shortages of toilet paper, one month, milk, the other, chicken, the next, does this contribute to a nutritionally balanced and low-stress state for the population?

      Are you trying to say that Venezuela’s economy, its oil industry and its infrastructure is at its best moment in history?

      Finally, is the FAO award to Venezuela for having combated hunger like the UNESCO award to Venezuela for having *abolished* illiteracy, statistics having been created and submitted by the Vz government to each multilateral?

  8. Our rice farmer friend might find the System of Rice Intensification helpful. He could forget about the herbicides. However, he would need a mechanical weeder, and I gather from the WSJ article that parts for that would be difficult to come by here.

    Identifying follies is important. We can’t stop there, though. Solutions must follow, lest we be driven to despondence. Solutions, simple solutions, do exist. Perhaps it would fall outside the mission of this blog, or perhaps I’m misspeaking, but I’d love to see a sprinkling of posts that include realistic solutions to issues facing Venezuelans (beyond economic theory and political ideology).

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