It's the economic war, stupid!

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Ever since scarcity began, Venezuelans were presented with a new phenomenon: “economic war.” Hazily defined and poorly communicated, economic war basically says that someone – the opposition, private industry, the CIA, the Mossad, Uribe – SOMEONE is responsible for the long lines and empty shelves in Venezuela’s stores. That someone is … anyone but the government.

The latest incarnation of “economic war” points to “wholesalers.” According to the government, wholesalers are hoarding on consumer goods. The reason you can’t find cooking oil is becasue it’s stored in the warehouses of eeeeeeevillllll wholesalers. Once we do away with these folks, everything will be good.

Sadly, some in the media aren’t buying the “economic war” narrative. The latest media outlet to undermine the argument is none other than the Official Gazette of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Last week, a decree was published there saying the government was doing away with much of the paperwork needed to import: chicken, beef, pork, live cattle, milk, wheat, rice, sugar, corn, toilet paper, detergent, women’s sanitary napkins, shampoo, and medicine. In other words – pretty much everything you can’t find in the stores at the moment.

But wait … wasn’t all this stuff supposed to be hoarded up in the warehouses of the eeeeeeevillllll , eeeeeeevillllll wholesalers? If the problem of scarcity is in the distribution and not in the actual amount of stuff that makes it into the country, why so desperate to import stuff as fast as you can?

One of the many qualities of Hugo Chávez – and, yes, he had some – was his manic ability to stay on message and hammer it down until it was part of our consciousness. In doing so, he ingrained message discipline on his millions of underlings.

But message discipline seems to be one of the many things going missing in Venezuela these days.