If you’re hungry and you know it CLAP your hands


Does the ruling clique really think the CLAPs are going to work? Do they seriously think having the ruling party distribute food door-to-door is a reasonable way to keep people fed over the medium term? Do they honestly believe this is the way to get on top of social conflict?

These are the questions that keep running through my mind as I stop to consider  CLAPs, Venezuela’s latest unfortunately-acronymed experiment in high-stakes, low-IQ social reform.

CLAPs are local committees set up by the ruling party in the wake the collapse of the price-controlled food retail system to take food to people’s homes, rather than having people go out and shop for it —Uber for Socialism, basically.

What’s worrying is how the government is putting virtually all its social stability eggs in into this one CLAPpy basket.


When this boondoggle fails, what we’ll be left with is a country that has lost even the basic infrastructure to put food in people’s stomachs.

Even in the best of circumstances, with no underlying macroeconomic chaos, a smart, well-run public administration and ample time to prepare, seeking to overhaul something as basic as the way people get access to food would be an enormous logistical and managerial challenge. But I the absence of a trustworthy administrative backbone, a plan as hare-brained as abolishing grocery shopping —the CLAPs have meant nothing short of that in large swathes of Central Caracas— is a recipe for entirely predictable disaster.

The thing that makes CLAPs so dangerous is that there’s simply no room for error. When Chávez talked grandiosely of building a train to Buenos Aires or a string of new man-made islands in the Caribbean, nobody had to pay for his delusions with their bellies. When this boondoggle fails, what we’ll be left with is a country that has lost even the basic infrastructure to put food in people’s stomachs.

Of course, the administrative apparatus taking on this momentous challenge is anything but Prussian in its efficiency. The infiltration of hardline pro-Cuban elements of the regime into the CLAPs structure, and their explicit partisan bias makes it easy to glean a kind of Zimbabwean strategy at work where hunger will end up being used openly and explicitly as a weapon for social control.

In Venezuela, what’s at play is different: the selective starvation of given households within a community depending on their political orientation.

But in Zimbabwe, discrimination was more geographically based, with whole regions that opposed the ruling party being deliberately starved. In Venezuela, what’s at play is different: the selective starvation of given households within a community depending on their political orientation, driven by the arithmetic impossibility of feeding everyone with the volumes of food available.

How on earth is selectively starving some neighbors and feeding others in the same area supposed to limit social conflict? Isn’t that an entirely explicit system for bringing people out on the street? How is a community half full of desperate people, on the edge, with nothing to lose, supposed to be stable?

I find the logic here really hard to understand. I can understand the ruling clique being entirely impervious to the needs of the people —we’ve grown used to that over the years. But I find it hard to grasp how they can be this catastrophically unable to grasp that this isn’t in their own interests. That the level of social conflict we’re seeing can and will only continue to mount if they sustain these policies. That their own continued rule is plainly incompatible with social conflict in the scale that they’re courting. That they’re not helping themselves.

Madness isn’t acting weird. Madness is acting against your own interests.

I remember, years ago, one especially drunk relative sharing some highly profane home spun wisdom with me, many years ago. “Quico,” he’d say, his breath on fire with whiskey, “loco es el que come mierda.”

Madness isn’t acting weird. Madness is acting against your own interests.

By that standards, estos carajos están locos de bola. 

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  1. Excellent analysis. No doubt administrative chaos is right around the corner, as you say. But it’s important to document the way in which those who don’t support the regime are being starved out.

    I’m aware of one state governor making that explicit: Farias of Cojedes State. But they’ll spin it as a humanitarian programme, so it’s important to document the realities.

  2. They came by the house last night for the second time. So, what’s in the cesta this week? “Well, for 1200 bs you get 1 liter of cooking oil, 2 kilos harina pan, 1 kilo of powdered milk, and 1 kilo of salt.” Just for chits and grins we asked, “What about rice, pasta, and sugar, you know, the stuff families really need?”. “No, not this week. You know the situation in the country”.

    Yeah, we know the situation in the country all right.

    As the famous Seinfeld soup nazi would say, “no rice for you!”.

  3. Given 17 years of anti IMF rhetoric they are unable to react to the economic crisis. Look at Greece, they voted for rabid opponents to the harsh economic measures and still had them rammed. They have no means to address the economic disaster.

    So as I said in a comment yesterday which is more relevant to this post. Maduro is going to try to ride the tiger that Venezuela has become and hand el coroto to whomever of PSUV wants it. The other desireable alternative is it to have a military coup and bookend the Chavista period with a wonderful last event that will allow them to sell for generations the myth that it wasn’t them but la derecha apatrida imperialista that opposed them all along. Something of a maxi Allende narrative.

  4. Typical Marxist approach to everything. Make an idiotic mess through stubborn ideological stupidity and then make another stupid mess to straighten out the mess you already made and blame someone else for the first mess and the second one. Go on the dollar, return to private enterprise and a market economy, get Fidel Castro and his synchophants out of your lives and some semblance of economic stability will return. Oh well, not going to happen….

    • So while I’m on record poo-pooing the whole notion of debating “isms”, I think to the extent that you can identify socialism with a mindset that seeks to always fix the negative consequences of controls with yet more controls (which in turn have more negative consequences, which in turn call for still more controls in an unending cycle) — to that extent Socialism is bad news.

      (Then again, maybe I don’t need to qualify my original position so much. It isn’t really “socialism” that is bad news, it’s that fix-the-consequences-of-controls-with-more-controls that’s bad news.)

  5. What Maduro & Co. (thugs) are looking for is a coup d’etat, provoke unrest, anarchy or a social explosion in order to have an excuse and send the GNB. Operación limpieza! I am not an expert, but it doesn’t make any sense what these low IQ’s are doing to all the people in Vzla., the “tan cacareado pueblo”, including family and friends of the low-to-medium ranks of the military.

    • No, they’re looking for people to shut up, sit down and deal with it; if people doesn’t obey, they won’t eat, simply as that.

  6. “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” – Winston Churchill

  7. There is no hell that burns hot enough to punish these monsters for what they have done and continue to Venezuela

  8. The CLAP approach to food distribution is the result of two regime problems , one: if they let private businesses distribute food then they give a lie to the guerra economica notion that businesses are sabotaging the system to topple the govt and/or make more money and second: its now been made abundantly clear that the regime’s bureaucracy is both corrupt and incompetent so they are left with only one option which is consistent with their populist delusions : let the comunas organize the distribution of basic foods………

    Additionally by doing so they gain two other advantages : one , they let their followers in the comunas make a buck by manipulating the system to their personal advantage (thus ensuring their loyalty) and second: they have a new way of extorting peoples fealty by making them feel that if they oppose the regime they will be denied the basic foodstuffs on which they depend for their survival ….!!

    Now they feel they are off the hook if the food doesnt get to the people ( who can blame the people themselves organized as CLAPS for those failures??) and they find a new way of rewarding their followers loyalty and punishing their opponents stubborn resistance…..!!

    • El meollo del asunto–well-said. Add in insufficient $ income to cover costs of bureaucracy/corruption/food/health, and the desire to disinflate “Burrostein” by sheer hunger, in order to accomodate him to Cuban-like serfdom–and, it’s working–so far….

  9. Según el ministro de Producción Agrícola y Tierras de Venezuela “Nuestro pueblo sigue comiendo todavía” y añade que le parece muy sano que la gente coma fruta (es decir, mangos). ¿En qué país que no sea Venezuela un ministro se permite el lujo de poner como un éxito que la gente todavía puede comer? Lo que no ha dicho es qué harán cuando ya no puedan comer. Cuando hay tal desvergüenza, lo único que se puede esperar ya es el colapso total. Si esto lo quisiesen hacer en Alemania tendrían en sus manos un problema logístico descomunal pero en un país como Venezuela es simplemente imposible que salga adelante

  10. Holodomor criollo.

    Of course, mangoes and papayas and the forginving tropical climates makes the engineered famine advance are slower pace, but we are seeing the first sign of its effects, people not sending kids to school for lack of food, passing out in the heat while queuing for food, and overall anomia and learned hopelessness.

    The communist regime has been hard at work with the treassuriy said resources and the nations time ( over 18 years and counting) , to deploy the strategies and plans that have led us to where we are now, I would not doubt they have also thought it through past this point and are prepared to neutralize the revolts and finally implement Cuba -style serfdom.

    Claps and dehumanized troopers and paramilitary thugs are active and in command. Only a unexpected event that splits the military, or a incredible show of civility and nationalism could stop these developments.

    Amor con hambre no dura, and now the venezuelian said in chanted by Chavez will have to wake up and face their guayaberas, they have been had again, these theme their love affair have left them destitute and angry. In their little developed sense of own responsibility they will avoid learning a lesson and will blame someone else. the chavismo apparatus has been very busy as well building a narrative of guerra economica, and “blame it on the cuarta” to address this.

    Time to smart up people! The occupation is just covering their retreat by leaving a big peo in place and a killing field to cover up and gain in unity from prosecution.

  11. From what I’m learning from family is that there is no CLAP in Tachira or Zulia. They say the stores still have some food in Zulia. I’m told that in San Cristobal the only food is very expensive and smuggled from Colombia. The food packages in Vargas. I’m told are not being denied to non PSUV households but are inadequate.

  12. The CLAP crap is just a tragic joke, a blatant lie, and probably another tool for corruption and/or steal stuff.

    It’s another way to fool some gullible people, but some more time before the regime falls, and make it look like they are doing something new.

    It’s logistically and financially unfeasible. And where’s the food coming from? How many million people would have to deliver it? It’s beyond surrealistic to expect such a retarded “plan” to work nationwide, for 30 Million people. Another lie. Another excuse. To buy time. To steal more. As usual.

  13. My sense of this whole sad mess is that I am wrong to assume that a well-oiled and equatable society is or was ever the goal of any socialistic system. The game is to retain power and impose a system that itself is incompatible with long term prosperity, justice, balance and sanity. That these later values are at direct odds with socialism – be it Chaviso or any other brand – is a historical fact backed up by countless quotes of leaders who have seen countless socialist outfits go up in flames. And I don’t mean the soft European version, but the deluded “revolutionary” version. The earmark of the revolutionary socialist is that they ignore the quotes. And here we are.

  14. The problem as I see it with the CLAPs is that once you start taking deliveries of it, it is hard to stop. You become somewhat dependent on it. So despite the degree of self-loathing, you keep going back for more and end up with the CLAP again and again and again.

  15. Google : Super-Rich Quaff Champagne in Venezuelan Country Club… Very disturbing pictures Sort of a “Nero fiddled while Rome burned” expose.

  16. “Does the ruling clique really think the CLAPs are going to work?”

    Absolutely not! They are using the CLAPs to control the population to stay in power
    Sign the recall petition? Then don’t expect the CLAPs to be coming by with food…


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