Every day since I landed in Colombia a month ago, I’ve felt very much at home. Even the caleño sun reminds me of Valencia. I’ve been pampered by the world’s best hospitality. I’ve been fed a staggering variety of food every-freakin’-where I go. Supermarkets are home to at least nine different kinds of potatoes, a gazillion tropical fruits; and all the chicken, beef and beans you can wish for. At affordable prices, too!

I can’t believe it: this is outright paradise, almost pure joy. The only times my conversations with Colombian brothers and sisters take a sad turn is, of course, when they realize my costeño-sounding accent hails from a bit further East.

“Oh my God, Venezuela… I’m… I’m sorry for what you’re going through.”

“That Chávez was a true jueputa, wasn’t he? He really messed you up.”

Parce, Colombia has no shortage of problems, but I’m glad nobody like Maduro is running the show here.”

President Juan Manuel Santos agrees with his street paisanos, and just published a powerful piece detailing how the two countries’ economies have diverged:

But, like Reagan and Gorbachev, [Chávez and I] decided not to criticize each other’s preferred models – in our case, twenty-first-century socialism versus the Third Way – and, instead, to let history deliver its verdict. With this mutual understanding, we remained cordial until Chávez’s death in 2013.

Now, history has finally spoken, and the verdict is conclusive. Colombia has grown well above the Latin American average in recent years, and inflation stands at less than 4%. Moreover, Colombia has become an increasingly attractive investment destination, as it has made great strides in poverty reduction, job creation, infrastructure development, and education reform.

Meanwhile, Venezuela’s economy has contracted by nearly 40% under the weight of large debts and the world’s highest inflation rate. Some 82% of Venezuelans are now impoverished. There is a chronic scarcity of foreign currency, medicines, and food. Malnourishment is rampant. The maternal mortality rate in hospitals reportedly increased fivefold in 2016, while the infant mortality rate has increased a hundredfold. The temptation to migrate elsewhere in search of a better life is growing.

A nation brutalized for over 50 years by armed pro-Fidel groups waging war against society and trying to take over government is looking much better than her sister, where the pro-Fidel group actually got to power and has been making policy for just under 20 years.

History has indeed spoken. Colombia is an alternate Venezuela where communism didn’t ruin things. I’m ecstatic it exists. I’m eternally grateful for their genuine solidarity.

Can we turn the ship around now, please?

71 COMMENTS

    • Because giving free pass to the armed pro-Fidel groups waging war against society and trying to take over government to the power is why he’s called a communist/socialist.

      chaveco minions like you are constantly dissociated from reality.

  1. Look, I don’t imagine J.M. Santos wrote that himself. But MAN it’s polished! Part of our tara next to Colombia is we can’t even get proper press flunkies to ghost write stuff in a stylish way…

    • I love Colombia with all my heart, used to live there and still travel there regularly for business. Colombia has definitely made great strides in the last 20 years.

      However, we will see how they fare once FARC organizes their political party, which will instantaneously become the richest political party in Colombia.

      • I first visited Colombia in 1998, as well, and as you state the strides that have been made are great.

        Personally, I am not too worried about the FARC’s political ambitions at this point. They are despised by the population and elite’s have shown they are all to willing to go the route of assassination. Remember what happened to Union Partiotica.

  2. When I begin to lose hope about Venezuela- the violence, the ruin, the political chaos, the absence of a clear resolve in sight- I think of the dramatic changes that have occurred in places like Bogota and Medellin in a relatively short span of time. There are major problems, but improvements within a relatively short span of time have been dramatic. There’s nothing culturally wrong with Venezuela and there is nothing otherwise inherently hopeless about the situation. People can set aside massive ideological divisions and focus on the future.

    I’d add the caveat that there is a lot of justice that remains unattended to in Colombia, and if it is not able to successfully address this issue and deep problems with inequality, particularly in rural areas, things may backslide.

    Santos is an interesting example of how to deal with a crazy demagogue as a neighbor, as well, although his approach merits some critical scrutiny. Surely Colombia and others should have done more, sooner. Their biggest test may be on the horizon.

    • Canucklehead, I honestly question your observation about there being nothing culturally wrong with Venezuela, especially after the country has suffered from almost 20 years of chavismo which I believe has clearly made things even worse. Chavismo is like a cancer.

      It’s one thing to steal some fruit from your neighbor’s tree because you’re hungry, or even stealing a little extra for tomorrow as well, just in case. But how does one explain stealing 1000 kilos of onions from your neighbor’s hard work THE NIGHT BEFORE he was planning to harvest? Or how about not being able to leave your farm unattended for even an hour without coming back to find a cow or a hog butchered? Who does such a thing, stranger just happening to wander through? I’ve seen those examples, and countless others, repeated over and over again and it boggles my mind. How does a country, how does a society, recover from such? As is now evident to most everyone here, living under these conditions gets the best of a man. It certain has me.

      My dad grew up during the Great Depression, and fortunately for his family, his father was employed by the Postal Service so they didn’t suffer like so many. My grandfather owned a city block in small-town Louisiana where their home was located and the rest of the block was a garden cultivated by him and his 6 brothers so they could sell vegetables around town to earn extra money.

      More than once my dad told me and my brothers about the beggars who worked the town looking for handouts, leaving little signals for other beggars so they’d know which house was likely to give a handout. But he never failed to mention that during those years they never had anything stolen out of their garden even though the property was not fenced.

      I mention that story because a buddy of mine here raises mangos and limons and exports them all over the world. He travels extensively, including all over S. America. I’ve traveled extensively as well, but mostly in Europe and Asia. We were talking about this subject one day, the issue of stealing right out from under a neighbor’s nose, and I asked if other S. American countries or cultures were similar, and he just smiled and said, “no amigo mio, somos unicos!……no my friend, we’re unique.

      When a significant percentage of the population is just fine with sitting around all day waiting for the government to send them some freebie, or their CLAP bag, or content to wait for others to change what they don’t like about the country, then I’d say yes, there’s definitely something culturally wrong, gravely wrong.

      • Well if it is baked in, this stealing, malingering thing, then there’s really nothing for you to do except either give up, or to seize power by force and force the lazy buggers to work, is there? Or have some other country take it over and do it for you. Spain? Bring back the whip?

        I presume you do not steal and malinger. Have you considered why it is that you are so exceptional from your fellow, malingering, stealing countrymen? Is this something you have considered in your extensive travels in Europe and in Asia, thinking about your lazy countrymen clutching their handouts and their stolen goods? I imagine you have an underlying explanation for this “something culturally wrong”.

        In hardship, people sometimes awaken to the humanity of their neighbor, or the good and the real heroism around them, and that can lift them up and carry them forward, or they can find a perverse and fleeting sort of relief in beating up on others or cultivating some sort of extremist ideological mindset.

        • “In hardship, people sometimes awaken to the humanity of their neighbor, or the good and the real heroism around them, and that can lift them up and carry them forward, or they can find a perverse and fleeting sort of relief in beating up on others or cultivating some sort of extremist ideological mindset.”

          I call it trying to recognize, analyze, and solve a significant problem, but then, I’m not a liberal who has a constant need to feel good about himself.

        • Herrera Luque already explained why most venezuelans are thieves decades ago. No need to sarcasmcallapear someone who’s saying the right thing.

          • Amen to that, Ira. It is tough running a business in the USA. I can’t imagine what it is like in Venezuela. The nattering nabobs here don’t have a clue. They ought to cut him some slack.

      • mrubio,
        Many times I have cited the crime statistics during the great depression as an argument against the poverty causes crime arguments.
        During the great depression the crime rate in the US declined.
        In the US the crime in our inner cities breeds the poverty. Businesses close, investment declines, property values decline reducing tax receipts, people move to the suburbs and leave houses that would be much more valuable in another location to the slumlords. People stop going to the cities for cultural experiences and entertainment. All of these things reduce sales tax receipts.
        Eventually the city is broke, can not maintain the infrastructure and the downward spiral continues.
        The city without viable businesses and investment does produce the economic activity needed to generate jobs. Without the jobs poverty rises.
        The cause is the crime.

        • About 11 yeras ago I tried to set up an business exporting from Venezuela to Aruba and Curacao. Every single one of my potential clients on the islands declared me crazy for trying to trust my Venezuelan business partners. I was told that they wouldn’t do business with me because sooner or later my Venezuelan partners would fuck me over. “They” aren’t trustworthy I was told over and over again. Not one client wanted to sign a contract although my product and prices were superior too what was available on the island. Venezuelans have had a bad name in the Caribbean for many decades. Yes there most definitely is a cultural problem in Venezuela!

          • Duncanvd, same here. I made contacts in the Islands to export pork products to them. Even though I was a one-man show, that’s to say, no business partners, contacts in Aruba and Curacao said the business climate was too unstable in Venezuela for them to give up their more costly suppliers from other countries.

            I didn’t know it at the time, but they were right. I’ve never seen a country with so many obstacles to produce a product and I’ve operated businesses on 5 continents.

          • My point is not that there are not vast problems with crime and corruption in Venezuela. Believe me, we are all well aware of those problems.

            My actual point is illustrated by the fact that everything I am reading here reflects what I used to hear people say about Colombians and Colombia.

          • I was told that they wouldn’t do business with me because sooner or later my Venezuelan partners would fuck me over.
            That is not unique to Venezuela. From working for a US company in Venezuela with an Argentine partner, I came to the conclusion that our Argentine partner viewed the terms of our contract with them as just a piece of paper to be adhered to only if convenient. I discussed this with someone who had worked for the World Bank all over Latin America. He told me that was typical in Latin America.

            It is no accident that both in Venezuela and in Argentina, “vivos” are often admired. ( Which reminds me of a PSF commenter at another blog who used the blog name of “Vivo,” not aware of all the meanings of the word. 🙂 )

            Colombia, once viewed as Venezuela’s poor cousin, is now seen as a rebuke to Venezuela. If Colombia can clean up its act, so can Venezuela.

      • We were talking about this subject one day, the issue of stealing right out from under a neighbor’s nose, and I asked if other S. American countries or cultures were similar, and he just smiled and said, “no amigo mio, somos unicos!……no my friend, we’re unique.

        When I was working in Trinidad, I noticed that a lot of the vegetables in markets were imported from Canada or the US. This led to petrostate price distortions familiar to Venezuela: imported cabbage sold at US $1.75/LB and gasoline sold for US $ 0.25 per gallon- prices in reverse of what I saw in the US.
        Trinis informed me that one reason for imported vegetables was that many locals stopped growing vegetables due to midnight raids on vegetable gardens. These raids didn’t take a couple of veggies, but the whole harvest. So maybe not in other South American countries, but yes, in another Caribbean petrostate.

  3. “Meanwhile, Venezuela’s economy has contracted by nearly 40% under the weight of large debts and the world’s highest inflation rate. Some 82% of Venezuelans are now impoverished. There is a chronic scarcity of foreign currency, medicines, and food. Malnourishment is rampant. The maternal mortality rate in hospitals reportedly increased fivefold in 2016, while the infant mortality rate has increased a hundredfold. The temptation to migrate elsewhere in search of a better life is growing.”

    Sure sounds like a shithole to me.

    • MRubio
      I have been giving some thought to assisting you in trying to get seed and supplies.
      A shipment that I sent to Venezuela was lost after clearing customs. The consensus is that the GNB hijacked the truck.
      I made the mistake of sending a very large shipment all at once. The reliability of the shipping company that I use and my concern that deteriorating conditions would make it more challenging to get future shipments to the intended recipients influenced my decision to gamble with such a large shipment.
      The shipper that I use has given me a credit of thousands of Dollars for the lost shipment. This is in lieu of paying a claim. The load was not insured. The risk made insurance unavailable.
      In the shipper’s defense, I had been told that about 20% of their shipments were being lost in customs. By sending large enough shipments that they were on their own pallets, it seemed like the customs officials were to lazy to cut through the shrink wrap and steal the individual parcels. Preferring easier thefts.
      Instead the entire truck was stolen. Silly me.
      I have begun shipping again and sending multiple parcels in separate shipments. The shipper has successfully delivered all of the recent parcels.
      Caracas Chronicles can supply you my e-mail.
      I have a good knowledge of agriculture. I don’t have any knowledge of your growing seasons, weather conditions etc.. I am thinking of trying to get enough seed to you to enable you to use an open pollinated corn or soybean that will enable you to create your own seed.
      More of my expertise is in vegetables than feed and forage. I grew up working my grandfather’s farm. I raised beef cattle for many years. I have been getting my doctor, my dentist and others involved in helping me acquire antibiotics and other medications. Possibly a veterinary supplier would also be of assistance.
      If you believe that I can help, please ask CC to either supply me contact info or pass yours on to me.
      We may as well put this credit to good use.

      • John, that is one heck of a fine offer and I really appreciate it.

        Back when the private company AgroIsleña was in business, one could find every single product that was needed to produce virtually any crop in Venezuela, and anywhere in the country! As I said elsewhere, it was one of the finest, professionally-managed companies I ever had the pleasure to work with. Seed, fertilizer, insecticide, herbicide, tractors, plows, grain drills, water pumps, you name it they had it. They even had technicians to visit your farm and give advice on whatever problems you were facing. And if you didn’t have funding, they offered credit to those who had the land to plant and could show an ability to repay.

        Then, it was nationalized and DESTROYED almost overnight. Looted is probably the better word for it. Today it is just a shell of its former self and is mostly a mechanism for chavistas (they’re the only ones who have access to the few products offered) to buy at rock bottom prices and re-sell at great mark-ups to those who need the products. Yes, chavistas are capitalists.

        Anyway, we’ve got millions of acres of productive farmland in my immediate area, the great majority of it sitting idle and getting overgrown. BTW, let land sit idle for about 3 or 4 years here and you’re looking at having to bring in a buIldozer to clear it make it productive again. It’s now been about 3 years since credit all but dried up in this area so there’s a lot of land that will soon be lost to production without a serious investment.

        My business represents one of the few remaining private providers of tractor services…plowing, planting, fumigating, etc available to the locals. Most don’t own tractors and those that do can’t maintain them any longer as spare parts, tires, etc and almost impossible to find and when they do, prices are out of this world. Yesterday I sent my woman on an hour’s drive to buy hydraulic oil for my John Deere. “How much cash should I take”, she asked. I told her that 150,000 bs should do it for a 5 gallon tub. Uh, no, it was 400,000 bs!!!!!!!! It’s gotten insane.

        This area had a lot of private providers years ago but when Chavez gave tractors and other equipment to each town’s consejo comunal, with the bright idea of letting “socialism” provide those services, the private providers went out of business quickly selling off their equipment or seeing it sit in the sun and degrade. Of course, within about three or four years, the tractors, plows, combines, etc of the consejo comunales were virtually all in disrepair, destroyed, or disassmebled and robbed of spare parts. One woman here in my pueblo, the leader of the local consejo comunal, literally sold the community´s grain harvestor to someone in another state, pocketed the money, and was never so much as threatened with legal action. Ain’t socialism great?

        It’s been nothing but a disaster. Last year was grim credit-wise, but this year is even worse.

        Our growing season starts in mid May with the first rainfall. May, June, and July are generally wet and represent the best months for planting. The problem is that seed is usually not available until August! This year we planted many hectars for clients who were using uncertified seed…seed that they themselves had stored from last year. The results have been as expected, very spotty, some losing all their investment.
        Gone are the days of planting seed like Pioneer, Dow, or Brazilian hybrids.

        Here locally, credit has finally started to arrive to plant a few hundred hectars, literally a tiny drop in the bucket of the land available. The problem is we’re now half-way through August and this month is not shaping up rainfall-wise to be a good one. I fear we’ll see a lot of young corn die soon after emergence if the rains don’t come. In essence, we’ve lost 3 months of good growing conditions because credit and product was not available on time.

        When we’re not planting and maintaining corn and grain sorghum, we’re prepping land along the local river to produce oinions, bell peppers, tomatoes, yuca, etc. Those are smaller parcels to be sure, but they keep us busy and supply some food for income for the locals. There again, consumables are the problem as most insecticides and herbicides have all but disappeared.

        Again John, I appreciate the offer and would absolutely enjoy making contact with you. CC has my permission to pass along my contact information.

        • MR, what about theft of crops? Also, livestock/farm animals–in one truck farming hillside near Caracas 18 horses in the last month have been slaughtered on site at night and their meat stolen for sale in nearby towns. Crops from the truck farmers are sometimes not taken to market for fear of highway hijacking, truck, crop, and all.

          • NET, last year I planted about 25 acres of grain sorghum on a friends farm which borders our pueblo. He plowed, I purchased and planted the seed, we each paid our share of the combine costs and then split the harvest.

            The crop was planted only two blocks from my house which made an afternoon stroll to check out its progress, a pleasure. Late one afternoon while walking through the crop, I noticed a line of guys with loaded sacks on their shoulders leaving the next farm over making their way back to the pueblo. They weren’t even trying to hide their activities. I knew what they were up and immediately called the owner.

            “Pedro, I’m here on Issac’s farm checking our sorghum and watching 6 or 7 guys leaving your place with sacks of corn, just wanted you to know”.

            His response. “Yeah, I know. I’ve talked to the police, talked to the national guard, even caught and threatened a number of them at gunpoint. But I can’t be in 10 places at one time, I’ve got my other business to attend to, and that crop is now a loss”.

            He later told me he cut and chopped what was left for his cattle and that there wasn’t a single ear of corn in the 40 acre piece he’d planted!

            And it’s not just a risk planting near town. Another buddy of mine told me that when his corn crop which was planted 20 miles from town and in the middle of nowhere, was perfect to harvest green for making cachapas, he checked it one morning and found that something on the order of THREE truckloads of eared corn had been stolen. Now, I don’t know how many ears a Ford 350 can haul but we’re talking about a major hit to his pocket book. It was obviously a well-organized theft with quite a number of hands to pull that off in one night.

            NET, this is happening all over the country. Crops, animals, even the barbed wire from the fences is being stolen! Farms are being stripped clean and “the law” does NOTHING about it.

            But, as cunnuck has informed us, “there are not vast problems with crime and corruption in Venezuela”.

            Sigh.

        • Excellent. Lets use up that shipping credit and do some good with it.
          Are you listening Toro? You have permission to give MRubio my contact details also.
          The shipper is still doing air freight twice a week.
          Cargo containers leave every Friday. It is only 3 or 4 days to get to Caracas by ship. The customs delays have been the bottleneck. Recently they have been averaging about 4 weeks.
          The owner of the shipping Company is a Venezuelan. He is one of the last operators that ships household goods to Venezuela. Most of the others have ceased due to the losses.

          • John, it’s too late in the season to make a difference with the corn crop and besides, a few thousand dollars wouldn’t have a signficant impact on overall production in the area (only the Brazilians are planting soya these days) but your offer could be a TREMENDOUS help for those trying to produce oinions, tomatoes, green onions, bell peppers, etc.and doing so without the proper insecticides and fungicides.

            I will immediately find out what these guys need and we can get started.

            You have made one fine offer and I and others really appreciate it.

          • My brother owns a golf course in upstate NY. That is where I live also.
            This may give me access to more concentrated products than what is available on the consumer market.
            I know here are rules and reporting requirements, including maintaining application records for products that he takes delivery of.
            Delivery to the shipper may solve that issue.
            I am witing to hear from CC to put us in contact.

  4. Santos is a fucking scumbag for not standing up to Hugo from day one.

    You would have to be an idiot not to see where VZ was headed…from the very beginning…and this piece of shit played a big part in letting it happen.

    He wanted to play both sides of the fence, hedge his bets, and he can take his excuses today and shove them up his fucking ass.

    • I am no fan of J.M Santos, I prefer the political realism and intellectual rigor of Alvaro Uribe, but it is ridiculous for you to blame Santos for what transpires in Venezuela. Mr. Santos’ duty is to look out for Colombia. That’s what the Colombian people pay him for.

    • “Santos is a fucking scumbag for not standing up to Hugo from day one.” No Ira, over 10 million Venezuelans are fucking scumbags for fucking voting that communistic Cunt into power in 1999. Ignorant cunts from day one and now bitching because of the shitwhole their’re in. And STILL NO MILLIONS in the streets PROTESTING, …. fuck’um!!!

      • They traded their freedom for security.
        Benjamin Franklin famously said that anyone that trades their freedom for security, deserves neither.
        Those that refuse to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat the mistakes.
        This past week I was talking to a friend of mine that recently returned to the US from a visit to family in Poland. She is extremely troubled by the political events taking place there.
        The rise of Putin’s authoritarianism in Russia. Erdogan in Turkey.
        Venezuelans are not unique in his regard. Poland and Russia becoming more authoritarian at the ballot box baffles me. How can they voluntarily give up an iota of liberty after knowing the horrors of Communism?
        I devoted my entire career to service to the people and government of the United States. For all that we are criticized,( I freely admit that mistakes were made), the fact that the number of Democracies in the world multiplied by a factor of 20 compared to the pre – WW 2 era and today is the greatest accomplishment of a post war America.
        The conviction and sacrifice of the US and other countries led to more people living in freedom than anyone would have imagined 70 years ago.
        To see this trend reversing itself is a very troubling thing.

      • I just never understood how Santos was so willing to bend over backwards to play nice with this demagogue over the border.

        When that demagogue never played nice, and cursed, threatened and did everything possible to cause trouble and disrupt the peace.

        Or did everyone forget Hugo’s threatened military buildup on the border?

        Santos was a fucking pussy.

  5. Uribe saved Colombia. Santos saved Betancourt before he was president, and hasn’t done a fucking thing since.

    Bring back Uribe.

  6. And Alejandro…

    Just about every country on earth has every type of potato, tomato, and whatever you can think of available in abundant quantities and affordable prices.

    Why in the world you make Colombia as an example for this is confusing. Or is it once again, that “We’re neighboring Latinos!” attitude?

    If so, try to dump that crap, okay? It ain’t gonna help VZ.

    • “Just about every country on earth has every type of potato, tomato, …”

      Not Venezuela. Not today. Not at a price that most of the population could afford. Between the lines you could easily add that Venezuelan producers, left to produce, could fill Venezuelan markets with the same goods at a competitive price. I wonder why pointing that out “ain’t gonna help VZ”

    • Spend a few weeks in Venezuela, then visit our closest neighbor and see if you don’t feel absolutely overwhelmed by the variety of products in comparison. Point is, we could be swimming in food too.

  7. “Between the lines you could easily add that Venezuelan producers, left to produce, could fill Venezuelan markets with the same goods at a competitive price. I wonder why pointing that out “ain’t gonna help VZ””.

    Venezuelan farmers could probably feed all of S. America if given the tools and incentives to do so. The climate is ideal, there’s plenty of water, and millions upon millions of unutilized, potential productive and fertile agricultural land.

    It’s really a crying shame that we can’t feed ourselves.

  8. How Santos says “I told you so”:

    “Thanks maduro for the Nobel Prize when your master castro and you convinced those farc idiots who I carpet-bombed during Uribe’s term years ago to sit and sign this treaty, now I can finally disinfect the hand I used to shake yours.”

  9. Santos is nothing but a slimy bastard, a 2-faced political weasel. Uribe was the one who battled the Farcs and was almost to the point of defeating them. Uribe was the one who re-ignited Colombia’s economy and saved it. With Santos as a pathetic perra faldera behind him, for 8 years, sucking up to him. Then the lying weasel betrayed Uribe, got in bed with the Farcs and now wants to take the credit for Colombia’s recovery.

    Just watch as the Farcs continue to gain ground in Narco-Kleptozuela now, and start rebuilding in Colombia, while bringing corruption to the next governments.

    ———————————————————————————————————–

    BTW, I dunno what Alejandro means here:

    “Colombia is an alternate Venezuela where communism didn’t ruin things. I’m ecstatic it exists.”

    What definition of communism are you utilizing here??

    Last I checked Communism:

    “a theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state.

    “a system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party.”

    As in China or The Soviet Union or Cuba, FAAAAAAAAR from deeply Capitalistic Colombia.

  10. Apologies issued to canucklehead. I misread and misquoted a post of his above. The claim seemed so outlandish that I couldn’t believe he had actually said it. Well, he hadn’t. Apologies cannuck.

    I’d have written this above but there was on reply function available.

      • Easy to trip over. They’re standard in spanish as you probably know. What’s funny is that when I travel to the States, I often respond in Spanish when someone asks me a question, even though the question was in English. It’s actually easier for me to write English than speak it these days.

  11. My first trip to Colombia was 2 years ago when I went to Bogota and Cali. I LOVED Bogota as it was to me like a bigger more cosmopolitan Merida. People were extremely friendly and the city is truly beautiful. Cali indeed reminds me of Valencia. I love Colombia and I am truly happy for its new face as a growing economy. Who would have thought the tables would turn in the way they have?

  12. The country that gets economic and military aid from the United States is now claiming victory during Venezuela’s weakest moment; I don’t think so. Venezuela is the victim of economic sabotage and sanctions from the opposition and the United States\

    • Economic sabotage. When will the rest of the world ever understand that selling something at less than production cost is the way to go?

      • These chaveco trolls are proliferating like mold around here.

        They don’t seem to notice that they are themselves the cause of Venezuela’s woes, because the currency that whould be destined to import medicines and food is instead wasted into paying trolls like luis peredia, judi lin and now this other chump um.

        • Goldman Sachs bought 2 billion in bonds and the opposition was crying. The US puts sanctions on Venezuela and they are happy. Don’t you want the economic situation to improve? The real answer is the opposition has been crying since 1999 and wont stop until they get their way.

          • Um—since you want to concentrate on things economic, how about you answer some simple questions. What happens when things are sold in one location below cost but in another, where shipping costs between the two are next to nothing, has the same demand and market prices? What happens when a business/individual is not able to access/trade for the currency needed to make transactions/purchases for inputs needed to conduct business? What happens when investments are deferred in a capitol intensive industry, such as petroleum?

            By the way the US has yet to put any sanctions on Venezuela!!! The US has sanctioned individuals, this does not stop the regime from fighting crime and accepting humanitarian aide.

          • Awww, the little chaveco is crying because the world isn’t going to let this little dictatorship to continue slaughtering the people left and right.

            Boo hoo, cry me a river, dude.

    • Venezuela is the victim of ….sanctions from the United States
      The “sanctions” deny entry of certain high-level Chavistas to the US and deny them access to their bank accounts-if any- in the US. Why the “sanctions?” For corruption or for human rights violations, for example. Are you informing us that you believe that corrupt Chavistas should be allowed to freely park their ill-gotten gains in the US? Are you informing us that you believe that those Chavistas who are sanctioned due to corruption or human rights violations are victims for being so sanctioned?

      Venezuela is the victim of economic sabotage… from the opposition and the United States.
      Ironically, the US is one of the few countries currently paying cash money for Venezuelan oil, in contrast for example to oil sent to China in payment for previous ill-considered loans.

      Chavista Venezuela has a number of dysfunctional policies which most definitely harm- shall we say sabotage- Venezuela’s economy. For example:
      1) A multi-tiered exchange rate which gives Chavista insiders, a.k.a. enchufados (connected ones), access to dollars at a fraction of the market rate. This is a license for Chavista insiders to steal. A further
      consequence is that dollars which could be used for needed imports are instead going to line the pockets
      of Chavista insiders.

      2) Selling gasoline at ~3 cents US per liter (~12 cents US per gallon). This extremely low gasoline price encourages wasteful use of gasoline. A further consequence is that gasoline is smuggled to other countries that sell gasoline at market rates. The low gasoline price is not a subsidy to the poor, as only ~20% of Venezuelans own motor vehicles.

      3) Controlled agricultural prices, which are a disincentive to produce. Why would one want to sell at a loss? Better to stop producing. Result: less production and more shortages.

      4) Controlled retail food prices. This just results in much food sold on the black market- and food shortages.

      Though the reduction in oil export income is a much bigger factor in the reduced food supply of recent years than controlled retain food prices.

      These are self-inflicted wounds. Chavismo is sabotaging Venezuela with these dysfunctional economic policies.

      MRubio gave a trenchant reply to the claim that the opposition was blocking food distribution.
      Opposition blocking food distribution? Could you splain me that when chavismo controls the dollars, controls customs, contols the thousands of checkpoints across the country and has been in control for almost 20 years?
      If the opposition is so strong today that it actually controls food distribution, imagine what it can do once these bums are thrown out.
      No JL, the problem is that socialism is in charge and has been for a long while. You’re just seeing the results of handiwork but too close-minded to accept it.

      Ulamog also pointed out in the same thread:
      The SICA guides are the system that chavismo uses to track EVERY SINGLE PACKAGE OF FOOD that leaves point A to go to point B and thus CONTROLLING THE FOOD DISTRIBUTION/
      Link: https://sistema.sunagro.gob.ve/

      The claim of “sabotage” is an attempt to deflect attention away from 1) the fact of greatly reduced oil income (from $100 oil in 2013 to $36 oil in 2016 to $40-$50 oil in 2017) and 2) dysfunctional Chavista economic policies.

      Why are things much worse today with $40-$50 oil in Venezuela, than they were in 1998 with $11 oil? Why did Infant Mortality fall in 1998 with $11 oil, while Infant Mortality rose 30% in 2016 with $36 oil? Inquiring minds want to know.

      • BT—Why provide the cheat sheet? Let’s try to make some of these people think through the results of the policies they are advocating.

        The military/regime can, of course, “distribute” food/medicine much more efficiently than the market/private sector ever could. ;( By the way, great response, you took way more time than I ever would have.

        • Let’s try to make some of these people think through the results of the policies they are advocating.

          There’s the old saying,”You can lead a horse to water but can’t make him drink.” Nor can you force a Chavista/PSF to think.

          As it was nearly all previously written, it didn’t take that much time to assemble and post. Copy/paste and polish.

          I didn’t post for the Chavista/PSF, Anyone who is still a Chavista/PSF at this date is beyond redemption. I saw this comment at a news site: “We don’t know much about Venezuela.” I posted for those readers, so that anyone who is not yet well-informed on Venezuela can observe that Chavistas/PSF narratives collapse upon examination of the facts.

  13. Very cute story, except Santos is Colombia’s Rafael Caldera/Copei and thanks to him the Farc will be eventually elected democratically to rule the country using the same formula that already worked in Vzla. Which is actually worse than taking power using arms since is institutionally validated.

    Hope they they enjoy the potatoes in the meantime. Colombians traded short term peace for a dictatorship in the long run. Correction Santos did, Colombians voted AGAINST.

    On a related note. This site is filled with closeted pinkos and radical centrists, the usual boneless guabinero adeco type. The whole website suddenly is full to the brim with apologism and the editorial line has steadily gone downhill. Granted that the state of the country news wise is just “meh wathever” as a whole but i seriously think most editors in here are actually hoping for “like, real socialism bro, not this fake one”

    I feel like i am reading Globovision.

  14. Can I go totally OT? Yeah, try and stop me anyway.

    On my first visits to VZ in 1988 and 1989 (pre-Hugo of course), I was shocked at Venezuelans’ lack of etiquette while waiting in a simple line for coffee, a pack of cigarettes, the bakery, whatever. I would be next in line, and there were always some jerks behind me yelling and reaching their arm over my soldier to be served before me.

    Now, I grew up in NYC and still lived there at the time, but despite New Yorkers’ reputation for being aggressive, I never saw anything like this in my fucking life. My wife would tell me to calm down, “That’s just how things are here,” but I cursed out more than one of these bastards in English. My rage was enough to initimidate them; they didn’t have to understand what I was saying.

    Once my Spanish got better, I cursed them out in their native tongue. That felt even better.

    My experiences COULDN’T be unique to Caracas and just me, right? So why the fuck couldn’t Venezuelans be polite in line?

    An incredible irony and almost social justice (that may be taking it too far, I admit)…

    Considering the lines they’re NOW forced to endure.

    • Ira, the campesino kids are even worse. I can have 10 people standing in front of the counter here and those kids will force their way to the front and start yelling to be served. I love nothing better than to stop what I’m doing, give them the gringo evil-eye, tell them to STFU and wait their turn……and boy do I make them wait.

      They also love to interrupt conversations between adults, which also gets the evil-eye and a lecture about
      the ONE TIME I did that to my parents. LOL

      Now, as a disclaimer, I have to admit that my Venezuelan better half does not trust me to do any shopping or problem resolution with spare parts etc because I’m too polite. She’s definitely not polite.

      • Thanks for confirming that I’m interpreting my memories correctly, but I shouldn’t have doubted them.

        I went to VZ about 15 times between 1988 and 1989, about 5 times between 1989 and 1999, and only once after Hugo. I swear:

        The advertising agency I worked for handled Pan Am, and I got 50% off travel. And with the favorable exchange rate, it was cheaper for me to fly to Caracas for a weekend than stay in NYC!

        I also did some marketing work for Santa Teresa rum, organizing their presence/booths at the “booze” trade shows in the U.S., and they supplied me with an apartment in Macuto, La Guaira.

        Seems like a lifetime ago, in many ways, but I guess it is.

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