Would you like a side of yuca with that tweet?

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On Tuesday January 6th, we had yet another case of “I can’t believe he tweeted that”.

Here’s what Dante3happened…

The news that McDonald’s might stop selling its famous fries in Venezuela has been circling around for a couple of days now. The company claims a labor dispute in West Coast ports is slowing down exports. McDonald’s Japan actually rationed fries in December, 2014 for the same reason.

Still, it is curious that Venezuelans are the only ones in Latin America hearing “forget the French fries. How about a side of yuca with that Big Mac?”, as the AP reporter Hannah Dreier writes.

So, is it the ports, or is it the lack of currency to import fries? Well, enter Dante Rivas –current Autoridad Única Nacional en Trámites y Permisología en Venezuela (i.e., the Permit Czar) and one of the barajitas repetidas, one of many government bureaucrats that shift from one office to the next every three months or so. He tweeted:

“Se acabaron las papa fritas en macdonald q vaina mas buena, bienvenida la turbulencia, ahora a comer yuca frita hecha 100% en venezuela.”

More or less: “McDonald’s ran out of French fries. Pretty cool. We welcome the turbulence. Now we shall eat yuca 100% Venezuelan made”.

So far, not good… but not so bad.

Then Dante went on and tweeted -and then erased-:

“El que quiera comer importado, como no, que lo haga, pero con los dólares suyos no con las divisas de todos.”

More or less: “Whoever wants to eat imported food, go right ahead, but with your own dollars and not with the country’s dollars”.

Case closed: the fry shortage is directly linked to lack of access for dollars.

Now there’s a couple of things we would like to say to Dante.

First of all, according to Venezuela’s Central Government, at least 50% of the food we consume is imported. This was all the way back in October 2013, when Venezuela had lower scarcity levels and higher levels of domestic production. The yuca may be produced locally, but 5 of every 10 items you eat are imported. (Side note: what about the cooking oil you fry the yuca in? You know, the stuff we import? Or does Dante expect us to eat raw yuca?)

Secondly, there is nothing wrong with wanting to eat imported foods. If I work hard for my money, and want to buy an imported burger with fries, that should be my choice, not his or anybody else’s. And we all know how much Venezuelans looooove their McDonald’s.

And last, but no least, the country’s dollars are also the people’s dollars. We should have free access to buy dollars with our hard-earned Bolivares and to spend those dollars as we choose. Let’s not forget that 96% of Venezuela’s currency comes from oil exports. And it’s “our” oil, right?

With Venezuela’s oil prices reaching the 40 dollar mark, the country will have an even more acute shortage of currency. The problem is not that we won’t be able to buy a burger with a side of fries. The problem is that if the Central Government doesn’t take the necessary actions to solve the current economic crisis –high inflation, high scarcity and recession-, we might not even be able to make an arepa with a side of yuca.

Venezuela’s economic problems are waaaay beyond this french fries issue. This is just a symptom of a failed system.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Bueno, por fin, are the McD fries in Vzla now yucca or are they still out of potato and this is the latest alarmist scenario. Cuál es la volada?

  2. You have to wonder… are government officials there to solve problems, or to rejoice in them?

    At this stage of the game I can’t figure out if Venezuela is Kafkian, Orwellian or just Pythonesque.

    • Government? Venezuela it’s been a few years without one of those….
      What we have a bunch of thugs making a lot a money, that is what we have

      • I am not Venezuelan, but from a neighbouring country. Having followed closely the developments in the last 10 years or so, with direct links at different levels at at the government and PSUV, I have always been quite amazed by the complete lack of minimum management capabilities throughtout the entire system. In my direct negotiations with government institutions and parastatals, many times I felt like I was sometime around the 60s or 70s talking with one of those young post cuban revolution brainwashed revolutionaries or else with clearly corruption oriented sharks (shall I say “boligarchs”), aiming to get whatever available to them. Now, with the latest developments and with indications that some of my government contacts are indeed preparing themselves to leave the boat and get as far away as possible, I am really afraid that the outcome, very unfortunately, might be worse than expected. Before Chavez things were quite bad for the majority of the population but then there was this last hope. Now most people will have nothing to believe in, no hope at all and – most important – are starting to have problems even to eat. History has shown where this can lead to…

    • Dante is trying to convince the naive that this new scarcity is not one more consequence of their incompetence but part of their brilliant plan to stick it to the empire.

      He is also gloating that his gang is the one that “controls” the dollars – everyone’s dollars.

  3. Charlieecon,

    Could you elaborate on these “indications that some of (your) government contacts are indeed preparing themselves to leave the boat and get as far away as possible”?

    You don’t have to name anyone, but maybe indicate how high they are placed and how do you know they want to leave.

    Thanks,

    • Alejandro, thanks for your question. Information about these plans were obtained through direct contact, one as recent as last week end, through a personal meeting, asking for “suggestions”. Of course I cannot disclose any information since the idea is not to report on anybody’s personal intentions but rather insert this into the wider equation involving Venezuela’s current situation. Of these people, none are ministers but indeed high ranking officers. By the way, from what we have read in the last few years, many of the government people have been preparing their way out through establishing themselves mainly in Florida. I guess my contacts are kind of late in their planning…

      • I have known of low-ranking officers wanting to emigrate.

        In one case, quite comically, a bureaucrat working for the political police corps (whatever it is named today, it used to be DISIP) was preparing to leave to Canada because “the government is incapable of controlling crime” (!)

        • If sanctions against individuals are imposed the government will start the Orwell Engine to make it sound like an attack on the country but… What if the American government name names and assets (a flat in Florida, stock in corporations, million-dollar accounts)?

          The reaction of an impoverished population would be unpredictable.

          At this point, we only have to wonder where the spark that will set the prairie ablaze will come from. But fire will come again to our country, as it cyclically does.

          • Alejandro, that is precisely the issue. My concern is that the fire now can be something really astonishing. Sometime ago people channeled their hope to Chavez. And you know very well that most latin americans just need a “leader”. So the masses had one, who spoke their language and addressed their main concerns, at least for a while. But what about now? It appears that the oposition is by no means close to speak the language of the barrios. It looks like Capriles is somehow trying to bridge the gap. But he is still far away from getting through. The last brazilian military president said something that I think applies to the potential situation in Venezuela. He said (free translation): quote if all the barrios decide to get down from the hills to protest, the armed forces will not be able to control them unquote and I should add: one of the reasons is that most of their soldiers come from those areas…….

          • Well, let me tell you something. Enough of the language of the “barrio”. Enough. The time has come to bring in the language of the middle classes. No more demagogy, no more pandering, it is time to face up to reality: populism ruined the country and it now has problems that cannot be comprehended with poor language and low education.

            Aspiration, ambition, hope. Poverty is not destiny, is a technical problem that can be solved and has been solved (look at China, Vietnam, South Korea, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, even Bolivia has less poverty now!).

            On the people looting and killing out of control: it happened on the week from Feb 27, 1989 to March 5, 1989. It was bloody horrible and the army controlled it in the end, at the price of hundreds of deaths.

            Will the army be willing to control a similar situation now? Who knows! I would say it isn’t but you never know, maybe the people do not want to loot and destroy (more) but to change this government for another, better, one.

            Honestly, at this stage people may recognise that violence will increase scarcity, inflation and lead to a serious situation of famine. The opposition MUST become a serious alternative.

  4. Potatoes are now scarce , wanted to buy some and couldnt find any in neighboring supermarkets , a lot of other food stapples were also scarce or priced prohibitely . The agrofood minister (recognizing the problem) has promised that food supplies will be normalized in 10 to 12 days so …not to worry !!

    The Mc Donalds fries are really a silly example of the shortages happening on all fronts , one can easily replace the fries with fried yuca and no big loss but the announcement by clinics and hospital that 70% of all medical and pharmaceutical supplies are unavailable is really scary !!

    If the regime last year with the oil bl at US$ 100 and some credit from chinese oil deals still flowing thru was severely rationing import supplies to save on its US$ , what will be the shortage situation this year when oil prices are half of what they were , credit almost totally dried up and debt payments rising .!!

    • To run out of ketchup, mayonaise, ice cream, olives and the likes is kind of ok, but to run out of staple foods like potatoes is kind of worrying because we start to think that the people’s food security might be really threatened. What about milk, eggs, rice and beans? Can you easily find it? If not, Chavismo might be flirting with famine.

      • They would like to keep the stores full of everything under the sun , because that makes them popular and thus retain power forever which is what really matters to them . To them these shortages are dreadful not because they care for peoples needs but because they know it harms their popularity and sooner or later that can cause them to lose Power. They may invent all kind of stupid excuses to downplay our need for those things we can no longer access , but their inability to supply peoples needs is just something that evidences their failure and incompetence as a govt and is thus highly distressing to them .!! .

  5. FYI, Dante, the government you work for spent almost $6.3 BILLION dollars importing food in 2013 (over 17% MORE than the previous year). And in October of that year, Rafael Ramírez announced a plan for “massive” food imports to combat scarcity. Maybe you should check government policy in future before sounding off on Twitter.

  6. Perhaps MacPapas Medianas can comment, but if i recall correctly McD’s fries were from locally grown potatos, and processed, if memory serves (que vaina with memory, chico) in a plant that Arcos Dorados, CA set up in Santa Teresa/Charallave.

    I recall that it took quite a bit of arriving at the right starch levels and other qualities for potatoes grown in the Venezuelan Andes to qualify as acceptable for McD.

    This however, was late 80’s/early 90’s, so at some point the fries might have switched to imported.

    MacPapas, if you’re out there can you elucidate?

  7. “(Side note: what about the cooking oil you fry the yuca in? You know, the stuff we import? Or does Dante expect us to eat raw yuca?)”

    You could steam it.

    [What’s important here is that gypsies will desperately search for reasons to be depressed. There’s no speculation involving the recursive nature of depression; patients actively sabotage themselves to remain in this state, and whoever’s interested (authors, at the very least) in keeping with the recent instrospective theme should acknowledge this widely documented point.]

    • Yes, by all means let’s steam it in the water from La Mariposa Reservoir. You know, the one with tons of animal corpses left over from Santeria Rituals.

      Although, some would argue that the water from Lake Valencia, with its wonderful load of coliform bacteria would give the Yuca a somewhat more delicate taste.

      Maracuchos could, of course, use water from Lake Maracaibo and since it already has the oil in it it would be fried and not steamed yuca.

      But you know how it is with us gypsies, we just roll with it bro……………..

      • Are you trying to portray that there are no potable sources of water, or are you further engaging in depressive statements that are supposed to garner my and others understanding based on a depressive view of the state of the country?

        I know it seems odd to be confronted with that request (please focus on existing potable sources of water), but it’s absolutely ridiculous that someone would have such an understanding to me and other productive members of society; this tendency for misery.

        • I am further engaging in depressive statements because that makes me happy.

          I then engage in further depressive statements because I am sad to be happy when engaging in depressive statements.

          But that makes me happy again, and so it goes…..

        • To answer you seriously now:

          The situation, as I see it, is that steaming Yuca because you ran out of French Fries because there are no foreign currencies to pay for said French Fries is not an optimal solution, it is more like sticking a finger in a dike to try to stop a flood.

          As it turns out, McDonald’s in Venezuela does offer fried Yuca straws (not steamed).

          So as a stopgap measure, fine, steam or fry Yuca all day long.

          I am sick of stopgap measures, which is all this pseudo revolution is capable of, and which has led us down this rosy garden path to a place where, rather than be insulated from the falling price of oil like other oil producers, we are forced to go hat in hand to the Chinese and borrow money from them as if they were our rich Uncle Screwge (misspelled apropos). But noooooo, we are still sovereign right?

          So go ahead and argue all day for stopgap measures. Problem is, pretty soon you run out of stops, gaps and anything else you may need, and then you are truly up the creek without a paddle.

          Or do you forget that we were told to shower in 3 minutes when water began to go scarce, or that corn cobs made excellent subs for toilet paper, or that feminine hygiene napkins could be replaced with washable cloth, or that it was the effin iguanas that were eating high tension transmission lines, or that deodorants and soaps are now highly valuable and tradable items? Or that our “parque automotor” begins to look like it all belongs in “La Venezuela de Antaño”.

          No, chamo, I’ll definitely look for the glass half full most of the time, but when all there is is hot air, no matter how hard you try it will always look empty.

    • You could steam it all day, until it was edible, or you could boil it, is I think what you are getting at, although I am just a self-hating, self-sabotaging and introspective gypsy spouse enabler.

        • That’s what I don’t really get. We have a good database derived from almost 100 years of experience of communism. We observe empirically that it doesn’t work, and we have pretty good theoretical notions of why. Hans Dieterich has some intellectually interesting things to muse upon, but in the end the only difference between 21st century socialism and 20th century socialism is that 21st century socialism occurs after the year 1999. Why do sentient people persist in the belief in the efficacy of this belief? Anyway, I admire your optimism- its impressive given history and current circumstance. And I do ponder, in quiet hours, the point at which admirable optimism becomes ordinary delusion. You know, I do love Don Quixote but wouldn’t put him in charge of aircraft maintenance or some such thing.

          • Except no one is trying to sell you communism, as you’re pretending. You obviously didn’t read what was provided, which was a paper on linguistics and their role in international domination.

          • Sorry, my bad. Didn’t read the paper. Relieved, though, that nobody is trying to sell me communism.

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