Where's the beef?

Looking around at the butcher’s place and found this instead: “There’s no meat at the moment. Thank you, come again”

There’s a huge shortage of meat across the land. Butchers are struggling to fill their inventories as national production has declined sharply and imports are taking longer to arrive. Public inspectors are forcing businesses to sell at a loss (because price controls). The choice that remains is to either sell what’s left or simply close shop until who knows when.

Earlier this week was supposed to be make-or-break time, as a meeting between the central government and meat producers and distributors was set. Recently-appointed Agriculture Minister José Luis Berroterán Núñez assured the public that “people must be certain that we’ll adjust what needs to be adjusted, but must be calm and confident that their pockets won’t be hurt.” As if a change in controlled prices won’t hurt people’s wallets…

So, how did the meeting go? According to El Carabobeño, a new deal was not reached.

Butchers asked for Bs. 100 per kilo of standing cattle, contrary to the government’s proposal of Bs. 78, which is based on an “outdated” cost structure…

The government studies the possibility of applying a special subsidy system to the meat sector, through a bonus to compensate production costs, agricultural supplies and cattle renewal …”

So, to solve a problem created by price distortions, the central government’s solution is simply to spend money it doesn’t have, fueling another one (inflation). Remember, this is coming from the same folks who want to raise heavily-subsidized gasoline prices and yet, keep on procastinating about it. Cue Gustavo’s complete lack of surprise.

As the deadlock continues, some butcher shops are offering alternative options. Others prefer to offer just one thing …



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  1. What is wrong with Maduro?
    El Pueblo doesn’t care about international relations.
    El Pueblo does pay extreme attention to not starving.

    So Maduro fakes a war with the U.S. while Venezuelans cannot get food.
    Maduro is in the toilet trying to reach up to pull the flush handle.

        • “We face an even worse enemy than the evil empire, one that has tried to destroy our fatherland since way before the empire dared to turn its corrupt gaze upon us, it comes from beyond the time, looking to exact revenge upon our brave fighting people!”

          • Where is that from? It sounds way too literate for Maduro.

            Also, my comment above was a reference to “1984” by George Orwell.

    • In a nutshell, fixing the problem requires the government to abandon the so-called “revolution”. The end of the revolution means, sooner rather than later, the end of the regime. So better to plough on, slapping on more and more controls to deal with the problems created by all the previous rounds of controls, betting that control – of most of the guns, most of the money and all the institutions – will keep you in power, come what may. This requires obliging Venezuelans to accept a rapid descent to a level of consumption similar to that which is familiar to the inhabitants of Cuba .. and with no prospect of improvement. It appears, on the face of it, to be incompatible with even vaguely competitive elections. But who knows?

      • If there is an election, the choice is pretty stark — an accelerating descent into chaos, violence, and starvation vs. returning to something has a successful, albeit imperfect, track record. Seems like a no-brainer to me, but what do I know?

        • “… something that has a successful, albeit imperfect, track record.”

          Problem is, hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – especially in the barrios, just would’t recognise that as a description of the pre-Chávez regime. They know Maduro has failed, but they don’t see the MUD as an alternative. And another large chunk of the electorate would vote for the MUD if they thought voting would make any difference.

          • “… something that has a successful, albeit imperfect, track record.”

            philgunson: “Problem is, hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – especially in the barrios, just would’t recognise that as a description of the pre-Chávez regime.”

            The greater problem is that hundreds of thousands –perhaps millions– in the opposition, think that as a description of the pre-Chávez regime.

      • Are we watching a compliant population slowly accepting their fate, and thus drifting into a Cuba-like existence? Perhaps. Or will we be witnessing acts of civil insurrection in the not-to-distant future, violence as well? Which is worse? Nobody has a clear idea as to what’s going to happen next.

        • From the sound of my friends and family there, there is a tendency to think that it is psychologically healthy to concentrate on the good, and ignore the bad….and I am sure the government approves of that message.

        • Dr. Faustus, it’s pretty easy to tell what will happen next. Just go to the beach on the w/end or perhaps even better, over the next 1st May. Skip the exotic beaches and head to La Guaira or Morrocoy and watch the population arrive en masse with their old cars and Chinese motorcycles (all carrying an amount of people that at least doubles the max. capacity of say vehicle) and binge drink to infinity while blasting reggaeton, convinced that they live in the best country in the world. And well, who knows, perhaps you get lucky and are able to get a glimpse of a celebrity like “cabeza ‘e caja” dancing in pink speedos while a crowd cheers around him. Panem et circenses.

          But oh well, who is John Galt?

    • From the link:

      Why is beef so elusive in Cuba? It’s baffling, especially given the fact that in 1959, before Castro’s revolution, there were more cows than people here. Just more than 6 million of them for a human population just under 6 million, according to John Parke Wright IV, a Florida-based trader who sells cattle to Cuba. His family—which owns Lykes Ranch, one of the largest cattle farms in America—has been doing trade with Cuba since the mid 19th century.

      “Cuba used to have the biggest, most productive cattle ranches in the Western Hemisphere,” Wright tells me when I call him at his home in Naples, Florida (which is so close to Cuba, he says, that “on a clear night with a good cigar” he can almost see Havana from his front porch).

      “What happened to that grand cattle-ranching tradition?” I ask him.

      “They ate all the cows,” he answers.
      I laugh, thinking it’s a joke. “No, really, I mean that,” he insists. “Listen: A few years ago, I asked one of the comandantes of the revolution what went wrong. He said, ‘Look, we were hungry, we were young—we ate them.'”

      To add some meat- or milk- to that story:From the FAO:
      Percent increase milk production, 1961-2013
      South & Central America & Caribbean 370%
      Cuba 68%

      Not even the most devout Fidelista will claim that the CIA is shooting down Cuba’s milk cows.

      • As funny as that may sound, “they ate the cows” is the logical answer. Consider… to maintain cattle herds costs money in feed, veterinary services, labor, etc. If you are unable to recoup your costs by selling milk and beef, you will not continue operating at a loss. You will gradually decrease your herds, by selling off your stock for meat and not replacing it.

  2. The more that basic goods go missing, the more the government diverts stuff to their supermarkets (PDVAL, Mercal, Bicentenario). Just a few days ago, Polar was told to ship over 200,000 kg of corn flour to Bicentenario stores. This shipment had already been destined to other stores, and approved by the government, but Polar had to comply. I have to go past a Bicentenario regularly, and apparently they’ve been regularly having coffee, toilet paper, etc. (not sure about beef though); which you can get on the days allowed according to your ID number and if you’re willing to wait endless hours. The people I talked to there didn’t seem to mind all the waiting. They actually seemed thankful that they could get this stuff there.

  3. One of the links state that only 10% of the butcheries have any beef. How will the situation be in another two months? The Titanic is headed to the iceberg! There’s an imminent disaster knocking on the door!

      • Yes, an imminent disaster. As I said, only 10% of the butcheries have any beef. This same pattern is also happening with chicken and milk from what I see on the news. God knows what else. And it’s not getting any better in the coming months according to the kind of bullshit we see Maduro uttering.

        And human beings’ bodies are very conservative and reactionary in the sense that if they don’t eat, they get very weak and die, but guess what, maybe that’s what Stalin Maduro really wants.

        By the way, “starving people” don’t wreak havoc towards no one, they can only do that BEFORE they start to starve. A very brief window of opportunity is opening. I still believe that if the Venezuelan people love their sons and daughters (and they do), they won’t comply like sheep walking towards the abysm.

        • Don’t get carried away, people aren’t starving. There is food to be found, just extremely limited choices and often poor quality.

      • “Are the starving going wreak havoc on the regime or the upper classes?”

        On nobody, stop thinking that the plunderings of the 89 were some “spontaneous people enraged”

  4. Good news. The more escasez the better.

    Hopefully one day, people will wake up.
    Apparently they’re not hungry enough yet to realize what’s wrong.

  5. Its odd to watch how chavistas like to go to Disneyworld and other things capitalist when on a trip. But don’t you even breath that horrific word in Venezuela. Just maybe a chavista will build their own Disneyworld. Ya think? Then the sanctioned 7 won’t have to go to the US anymore.

  6. The beef exists, as long as you’re willing to shell out 700 bolos for one kilo (This afternoon, who knows how much’ll be tomorrow)

    El mercado negro auspiciado por el chavismo hace de las suyas…

  7. I guess I should’ve posted here…

    I was wondering with all these food shortages, how are the restaurants faring? I mean, can you still get a great typical Venezuelan meat lunch at one of Caracas’ famous steak houses if you’re willing to pay? Arepitas con nata, and all…

    And how much does it cost nowadays? I remember these places in Caracas used to be full to the tilt with Chavistas, the bolibourgeoisie, etc.

  8. The hardship is real , just meet people at a pharmacy or at a queue before a food store , both from the shortages and its sequels and the run away increase in prices , people complain bitterly of whats happening to them , the drivel that before Chavez they led worse live is no where heard , its like an urban legend , 16 years is a long time . Even if people do get the goods after some long queue , they are not particularly happy about having to make one from early in the morning , they cant tell the difference between their situation before and their situation now , Heard two motorizados who were looking for tuna in a supemaket aisle , ” now one cant even eat tuna ….followed by a strong expletive of frustration”

    During the US depression people went to the movies in droves and whenever possible attended dances and other recreational event , that didnt mean that they were happy , but that they desperately sought refuge to their distress and anger through escapist activities of all kinds . For Venezuelans its going to the beach , doesnt take away from the frustration that daily living has become once they return to their routine life. doesnt lessen their dissatisfaction with the change in their daily lives.

    • “During the US depression people went to the movies in droves”
      ???The majority of Americans at the time didn’t have the disposal income to go to movies very often if at all, if my own family’s experiences were indicative of anything. Furthermore, the depression era Americans worked their asses off, no comparison to the lifestyle of Venezuelans now (or Americans now).

      Anyway, always enjoy your comments and usually learn something. A few questions…Did you used to hear some of the pueblo say things were worse before Chavez, but now don’t hear that? What is the economic background of the people you usually observe?

      • “One interesting aspect of cinema attendance is that during the Great Depression, which swept the United States in the 1930’s, a higher percentage of the population went to the cinema each week than during the times of economic expansion and great prosperity the U.S. has seen since.”
        — Michelle Pautz, The Decline in Average Weekly Cinema Attendance, Issues in Political Economy, 2002, Volume 11
        (click on the link in the text at http://www.zonalatina.com/Zldata287.htm for the Adobe Acrobat pdf format of the article.)

        I have heard this maxim stated elsewhere, and a few times. As well, I have anecdotal reference. For the grandfather of my X owned a string of movie theatres, along the U.S. eastern seaboard, from Massachusetts to Rhode Island. As a result, he did well during the Great Depression.

      • Rory: I do a lot of queues each week , more often than not with people who are NOT middle class , for example yesterday my queue neighbors were a free lance truck driver and a thin young lady (wife to a repartidor) who was seeking milk for her youngest kid . the fact of the matter is that I never have heard any of my queue companions refer either to the economic war or to things being worse before Chavez . The most chavista comment I heard was from an old lady about a week ago who said that before the rich didnt know the hardships of the poor , while now they knew what they were like. !! .

        In Venezuela the bonche is part of life ,its always been like that , no matter how tough things get , so people can be pretty angry about their job or life circumstances but still take the slightest opportunity to try and enjoy whatever life has to offer. !! I guess in the US its different . Still the need for scapism during hard times is almost a human universal . Syd has some interesting comment on the subject.

        • “The most chavista comment I heard was from an old lady about a week ago who said that before the rich didnt know the hardships of the poor , while now they knew what they were like. !! .”

          I would have answered that imbecile asking her if diablodado, giordani, merentes or any boliplasta “now knows the hardships of the poor”

          Some times some people deserve a punch straight to the kisser…

          • Haha, yes. And does she know that most rich Venezuelans have already abandoned the country? I mean, they are “knowing the hardships of the poor” in places like the Lincoln Road, Rambla de Catalunya and the Fifth Avenue! Imagine how though life must be for them right now, hehe. Or does she think that people like Gustavo Cisneros are entering these queues too?


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