Being married to Quico, I haven’t had much choice but to learn a lot about Venezuela. There’s almost nothing worth reading in Japanese about your country, so two years ago I started translating Caracas Chronicles. It’s my little way to push back against the terrible, muddled coverage Venezuela usually gets in my country, when our press stops to take notice at all.

Usually, VenezuelaInJapanese.com gets about 300-400 page views a day. Not a lot, sure, but then it’s not exactly a surprise that not many Japanese people care.

This week, though, we’ve had more than 15,000. CaracasChronicles is Big in Japan, suddenly! But why?

The other day I found a story by Asahi Shimbun’s Sao Paolo correspondent on Maduro’s recent reforms that was so mangled, it pushed me over the edge. Citing El Nacional, it said “regular gas rose from 0.07 bolivars (about 1 yen) to  1 bolivars (about 17 yen)…” When you do the math you see that, yup, he’s using the official rate.

For a professional journalist to get a basic point like that wrong is shocking and pathetic, though sadly also kind of common in Japan. Nobody puts in the time to think through the arbitrage games that dominate the Venezuelan economy.

This kind of thing makes me so mad! But I was not surprised. I understood. Even for financial journalists, the Venezuelan economy is so crazy, it’s easy to see why they get confused.

So, inspired by Pedro’s food shortages article, I made this chart last Saturday, and it went mini-viral…the thing got retweeted over 1,400 times!


ベネズエラが食料不足になる仕組み-3.002

My Japanese readers loved this. They seemed so shocked! For the first time, the chart brought home to them how over the top the economic distortions in Venezuela are now.

Hopefully, some Japanese journalists will have been reading, too.

34 COMMENTS

  1. That chart is awesome. It does a better job of explaining the “bolivarian model” than my attempts to explain to my gringo friends and relatives how things can be so bad. I sympathize with the Reporters asked to do a one off story on Venezuela, it’s so crazy it’s hard to wrap your head around it in a short period.

  2. Thanks a bunch for doing this Kanako, it’s important the world knows the situation of my home country beyond whatever the government lets out and the armchair socialist parrot in order to support their own ideas. Every bit helps and spreading the truth is paramount.

    Gracias de pana

  3. Excellent flow chart Kanako !
    It makes it easier to understand.
    This leaves me wondering if Maduro has a learning disability or is he utterly corrupt? I think is both.
    Because if he understand the flow chart, further down there is a Box that definitively says, “Total Collapse End Game”.
    Go to —-> Jail

  4. Kanako : Your graphs are impressive in their clarity , We should have someone start doing graphs like that for economically iliterate Venezuelans (of which there are many) . They have punch and are easy to understand ….!!

  5. This is perfect.

    Most Venezuelans have trouble understand how exactly money is being drained, let alone explaining it to foreigners.

    I would love to see more of these graphs explaining the “Socialist Revolution”

  6. Kanako
    You have great capacity of synthesis.
    I love the blackboard style too.
    Very impressive!
    From Japanese to English … it should be translated to Spanish now
    you are going to get more viral

    • Ditto in every sense, including the translation of this snapshot into Spanish. The only change I would make would be to enlarge the font and make more visually prominent “Socialst Revolution” (or should that be *Socialist Revolution* with a question mark?) After all, the primary objective is to lay bare the workings behind the propaganda, for the majority of gullible journalists the world over.

    • I posted the chart to Facebook, with appropriate credits, of course. Brilliant for those of us who need to reach for our “Veneuelan Economics for Dummys” every time we need to wrap our heads around the fiscal contortions playing daily within Venezuela.

    • I posted it to Facebook too, with the following text:

      “Some of you outside of Venezuela reading the news about Venezuela’s economic problems may be asking yourselves, “How does a country with the largest petroleum reserves in the world manage to fail after only one year of low oil prices?” Some others have asked me things like, “What do you mean ‘There is no toilet paper/milk/flour?’. How is that possible?”

      “In fact, it is hard to explain these things. The massive distortions in the economy of Venezuela simply do not occur naturally. They are an artificial construct that occurred as a result of many years of insane and self-destructive economic policies. Venezuela’s combination of currency and price controls have been slowly destroying the country’s productive capacity for years, but the negative effects were masked by the massive windfall of oil income over the last 15 years. This income allowed the government to simply paper over the cracks appearing in the walls due to structural failure and ignore all the warning signs. With the collapse of world oil prices, Venezuela is now facing famine and social collapse on a scale that the world has not seen in decades.

      “The chart below was produced by Kanako Noda, a Japanese woman married to a Venezuelan blogger. She produced it in order to explain Venezuela to her confused friends and family back in Japan. This explains what has happened far better than I have been able to do previously.”

  7. Brilliant !!! Can you do other charts? like … how they appoint Supreme Court Justices or how they expropriate private companies or how they invalidate decisions of the National Assembly …

  8. I’d love to have seen through a tinny hole the discussion between Quico and Kanako on editing this post. I bet my kingdom Kanako won! Kanako-san kicking ass venezuelan style…

  9. 15000 visits?… that’s great, only 99999985 adults in Japan didn´t visit your web… a few years ago viral meant a few millions. Now newspapers (your usage of the word is correct if we use their vocabulary as a yardstick) need just a few thousands to call something viral. A few years more and we will need only 50 or 100 people to become all famous.

  10. This chart need to shown in the AN in every TV screen and be discussed in session for everyone to see. I may add a box in the right column for “El Bachaqueo” whereas the $3 flour is sold back by bachacos at $10 equivalent.

    It should be called “The Mechanism of the Economic War” or “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bachacos”

    • bachabasuras don’t sell you the flour for 10$, they sell you the flour by 50$.

      So there should be another box that says “Because products are sold at several times their actual price due to a government – sponsored monopoly, people’s salaries can never cover the entire basic basket.”

      • I am really so so thankful for this chart
        but I really think it is missing:
        1) bachaqueo (as previously mentioned) &
        2) the fact that there is a FIXED EXCHANGE RATE (this I think is key!)
        –> additions which both, I think could lead to a mention of the black market

        w/ said inclusions I think the chart will be more wholly encompassing the causes of our horrible calamities
        – just a suggestion though, it was really nicely done –

        the extent of the economic demise is so very huge it will (and already does) directly be responsible for claiming the lives of Venezuelans… and every single further death that will increase the current death count of aprox. 27,000 individuals is a true tragedy, esp. considering many could have been spared (think medicines everyone) – I don’t know how we are going to be able to heal from this disaster but I truly hope that it is now finally entering its final stage!

        el comienzo del fin, espero…

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