Carolina Luna doesn’t know when was the last time she ate chicken, meat, fish or pork. Now she can’t even afford “teticas” (small bags of sugar, milk and oil); the cheapest is Bs.5,000, 0.05 cents of a dollar, which reached Bs. 103,024.27 in the black market (today, who knows how much when you read this?).

Of course, she can’t afford eggs, since a package of 30 already broke past the Bs. 100,000 mark. Those $0.97 might be nothing to you, but it’s an impossible figure for her.

Food prices in Venezuela are absurdly cheap for anyone abroad, but a disaster for locals. The monetary collapse has reduced the true current minimum wage of Bs.456,507 to just about $4.4.

Carolina earns Bs.40,000 cleaning houses when she does find work, perhaps once or twice a month, which means she only has $0.38, from which to eat and feed her eight children, the youngest being only 10 months old.

“If a kilo of tomatoes is Bs 25,000, onions are Bs.40,000 and peppers cost Bs.45,000, it’s impossible with this kind of income.”

According to the Center of Documentation and Social Analysis of the Venezuelan Teacher’s Federation (Cendas-FVM), the price of the Basic Food Basket for October was 5,549,119.73. Some $54.3, too much and nothing at once.

Carolina, 36, would need Bs. 186,470.65 ($1.80) daily to cover her expenses.

She cooks beans as soup and has spent days eating only boiled papaya to trick the belly.

“Obviously, I can’t afford anything. So when I have to season the food, I can only bring a tomato, a pepper and an onion.”

Buhoneros in Petare’s roundabout sell teticas with those three main products and a sprig of coriander at Bs.10,000, or $0.09, though they’re open to bargaining. The food is not fresh, of course.

According to Cendas, out of the 58 products in the food basket, 17 are scarce, and their prices have also increased.

For Carolina, that list is pure abstraction. She only understands that she has no money to buy food. She cooks beans as soup and has spent days eating only boiled papaya to trick the belly.

Since the second week of October, the government has been publishing a list of 50 products that will be regulated, including sugar, a product that has vanished from the shelves and is available only at Bs. 89,000, less than a dollar, about 19% of the $4.4 that the minimum wage is currently worth. A lot more than the $0.38 she earns per month.

“I can’t even feed my little girl” she said, resigned.

44 COMMENTS

  1. Bloomberg ran a piece on the farming sector: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-12-01/fallow-fields-show-crisis-in-hungry-venezuela-s-heartland-farms

    Pounding the table again on planning and telling people what the plan is to rally support. You lay out the plan, much as Jose Guerra has outlined, then tell the farmer at the bottom photo of the Bloomberg article that he will be able to secure imports of seed and pest control. Explain in simple terms: 1) before “controls” you could get it; 2) you cannot get it now due to “controls”; 3) without “controls” you can get it again. Let him think about it.

    Can someone do an article here, similar to the Bloomberg article, on the state of agriculture – including livestock such as chicken, hogs, goats and such? Rabbits are indeed edible, and like goats, make succulent stew – if you have vegetables.

    A slogan “overthrowing the regime” is not anywhere nearly as appealing as “restoring food supply”. “Overthrow the regime” just tells regime supporters “you are wrong”. In my experience, one doesn’t win many friends running around telling people “you are wrong”. With “you are right, and we will remove ‘controls’ and you can then buy seed and pesticides”, at least you stand a chance. Free markets.

    Damn, there are people who might be convinced to ship seed and pesticides as a relief package – if anyone had A PLAN to actually use them. A plan is not a novel concept, guys. Some yo-yo’s might even be convinced to air drop them with GPS precision on short flights from Colombia. Plans have to be packaged and communicated in understandable terms – that’s the easy part when the plans are good ones. The hard part is the analysis of what the demand is, the mechanics of it, the specific on-the-ground steps. If half the time spent analyzing bonds were spent on analyzing agriculture ….

    • Gringo, you may have seen my post from Thanksgiving, where I talked about our fellow poster here named John who sent me two boxes with about 2,000 packets of seed…….onions, bell peppers, tomato, green onions, egg plant, green beans, sweet corn, just to name a few. The locals were waiting! We made a long list of who wanted what, and then distributed them as equally as we could. Everyone who wanted seed got something. There are only a few packets left, banana peppers mostly, which just happen to be my favorite so they won’t go to waste.

      I spoke with John this morning about the possibility of another shipment timed to arrive in early January as we’re now nearing the end of our winter (rainy season) and producers will be able to start planting in the fertile soils along the river. They can’t plant there during the rainy season because the river often tops its banks and destroys whatever crop is in its path. The problem for the producers right now is that there is no seed available anywhere. Like all other imports, this too has dried up.

      If we can pull off another shipment of seed, we’re going to concentrate on open-pollinated or heirloom varieties versus hybrids as the former allows the producer to hand-select product that can be used to generate seed for the following year. With the way things are going in the country right now, this could be a huge help for the local producers as it’s looking less and less likely that seeds will be imported with any regularity.

      Hybrids are great for producing large volumes of edible material, but their seeds cannot be trusted to replicate those characistics of the parent plant.

      • If John set up a go-fund-me page or a Paypal account he’d probably get some extra bucks. Plain vanilla seed aren’t that expensive. I hate berenjena but if someone else can tyolerate it, that’s one less berenjena in the world I have to avoid. I’m not sure if an NGO or church would do it as efficiently.

    • <b.You lay out the plan, much as Jose Guerra has outlined, then tell the farmer at the bottom photo of the Bloomberg article that he will be able to secure imports of seed and pest control. Explain in simple terms: 1) before “controls” you could get it; 2) you cannot get it now due to “controls”; 3) without “controls” you can get it again. Let him think about it.

      Good luck, considering what he said.
      “Everything arrives late, the seeds, the poison. This year, I couldn’t plant well, because we didn’t have any of that,” said José Leonardo Garrido, 40. “I don’t understand politics, I only know work. But this I tell you: I’m 100 percent revolutionary”

      But yes, the effort should be made.

  2. The following is an excerpt of an e-mail I received this morning from a friend in Caracas. Please excuse the spelling. Her English is better than my Spanish could ever be.

    “yesterday afternoon i whent to the market and by some fruits , and when i say some was like 1 lechoza (i dont know the name in enghish) 6 bananas (little ones) 150 gr of mushrooms and i cant remember what else , but noting fancy and not protein like milk or meat or chicken, ahhh 250 gr of pasta , 2 jars of 150gr of tomatoes , 2 esponges to clean, and 500gr of laundry ponder and guess what amount in the bill !!! 675.000 bolivares!!! it is a nightmare really…”

    For those of us in the US the cost is nothing more than what many people spend at Starbucks for their morning caffeine fix.

    Since the end of World War 2, the US has spent the equivalent of tens of trillions of Dollars in defense and establishment of democracy throughout the world. We are watching the worst humanitarian crisis in modern history unfold in Venezuela while we take baby steps in an effort to not offend anyone.

    The regional leaders that oppose US intervention are allowing the ghosts from the past influence and deter the actions that are so immediately needed in the present.

    The US needs to cease any support for any PetroCarib countries that have sided with Maduro in the OAS.
    The US needs to pressure the Lima group into issuing an ultimatum to the Maduro regime to surrender power to a transitional government. Should the regime refuse to step down from power, the Lima group nations should use all necessary means to effect immediate removal of the regime.

    • There’s a very interesting idea there, John, to put definitive pressure on countries that get loot from the regime. As far as the regional (LatAm) totally irrational opposition to the U.S., military intervention is still an option. President Trump did not withdraw that from the table. Second Amendment principle in global politics.

      Looking at the Second Amendment in the context of trickling down the armed force and sovereignty of any nation to its component population of individuals is enlightening, and highlights the principle that the people ARE the nation. The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights embody true philosophical principles fused into practicality. It is a document, a set orientation cast by the pen, but as it embodies what are taken as self-evident and inalienable rights, it thus lives, takes form, and grows within the individuals who comprise the greatest, most productive, and most free nation on Earth. That is the miracle of true freedom to produce and prosper, as an individual, with a free mind, a soul free to reach for the stars and beyond to eternity. And that, really, is the heart where it finds true meaning and immortality: within each individual who cares to see.

      • I do think that some of the small nations that supported Venezuela and the Maduro regime in the OAS, could have been influenced earlier this year if Secretary Tillerson had attended the meeting.
        That means showing up and handing out US Dollars. I don’t fault the administration for not bribing politicians to support human rights in their region. It just happens that this has been business as usual for so long that it is expected by many politicians.
        Their policy starts with “What’s in it for me?”
        It is unconscionable that cheap oil trumps the tremendous suffering of the people that Chavez “freed” from capitalist Tyranny.
        As the collapse of Venezuela continues, it will have negative effects on nations throughout the region. Some of the smallest countries that supported Maduro stand to be effected the most and foolishly put short term considerations ahead of long term regional security.

  3. Guys and Gals,

    Come on in. Glad to see you all.

    Join us in the front row, as we are now witnessing a rare man-made failure of epic proportions.

    Maduros Final Act, the destruction of the Venezuelan economy.

    Not only do we have the “Debt Restructuring Opera prelude” of early November, but have as well, the beginning of hyper-inflation and all its horrors.

    This time, we witness a once wealthy country, and ONE with twice the population of the last disaster – Zimbabwe, that will experience hyper-inflation.

    What is more, the Venezuelan people seem to “not have a clue” as to the massive storm that is coming, in the months ahead? Or do they?

    Yes, those of you still living there, you CAN imagine the BSF going from 3,000 at the start of this year to now 33 times higher to 100,000 bsf. BECAUSE IT HAS.

    BUT CAN YOU IMAGINE

    That within a year, that 100,000 WILL BE 2,000,000+ BSF? WTF!!

    (Note BSF has been doubling every 50 days for last 8 months)

    So, how will the tragedy unfold? Will the people cower down or revolt?

    Grab the popcorn. Grab the tissue.

    This next year is going to be a tear-jerker.

    • “What is more, the Venezuelan people seem to “not have a clue” as to the massive storm that is coming, in the months ahead? Or do they?”

      Here in the boonies, they don’t have a clue. They bitch about prices going up almost daily, but have no clue of the shit tsunami that’s going to hit next year. I try explaining hyper-inflation to them, but seem to have more luck talking to my dogs.

      • this thursday i went back from anzoategui to maruin in a “carrito” service, as I had done 6 weeks ago except the other way around. Price went from 18 thousand bsf to 41 thousand bsf, due to the bill shortage they are now accepting people to pay half the price with plastic.

        In the car no one was chavista, however, the driver said something that ticked me off: “lo que pasa es que hay falta de gobierno” or, “what’s wrong is the lack of government/governance”. And I went onto explain everthing i could recall the government put its hands on: Cemex, sidor, the gross mark up of merida’s cable car renewal, the dozens of time the train has been rebudgeted, sugar mill, terrain, agroisleña (and the fact they fired everyone there even though the’s job immobility), illegal mining overseen by the military, the coque we used to export but after expropriating the businesses that dealt with it, paying a contratist (oh do i wonder wo is the owner of the cotratist, surely not someone from the government!)to pile them up to just sit there and contaminate the surrounding population, etc.

        Of course, I finished by saying that the problem isn’t lack of government, but too fucking much government. And I shudder to think how many more people don’t get it and also think that the problem is the lack of government.

      • “…but seem to have more luck talking to my dogs.”

        Because the MUD-PUS media oligopoly constantly hammers them the idea that ONLY the lowest LEGAL traders are to blame, that bachaqueros don’t exist and that the trillionaire chavista dollar monopoly doesn’t have anything to do about it.

  4. Let’s get real. There will be no foreign military intervention from the US or anywhere else. The solution will come from within Venezuela aided by foreign economic intervention and the always vigilant bond holders. I now fear Maduro is willing to use food deprivation as a fulcrum to get the world to pressure the opposition for a quick fix, food now, your democracy sometime in the future, perhaps, maybe. I have no idea how starving people can hold out under these circumstances but they can help themselves by not voting for the Chavistas like they did in the regional elections. But starving people would not do that because that would be irrational unless of course they conclude that the opposition would not change anything. That is a very depressing thought, isn’t it. Is there not a leader in the opposition whom your pueblo trusts?

  5. The internet has served the regime well as the opium for the masses. When it ceases to function all hell will break loose. My cousin in Maracay said there are plenty of jobs available for those willing to work for a little over 900000 BFS per month (and she is looking for one of those jobs)! Sad sad situation….

  6. How much is that real currency – I am too lazy to go look it up at “Dollar Today” website. Be sure to report you findings on hourly basis. I remember the first I got Venezuela (1995 to Punto Fijo) the exchanger rate was about 250 Bolivars / US Dollar. When I Had to go (in 2001) was about 1100 Bolivars / US Dollar. – Today ??? (LOL) !!!. I am certainty glad I did invest in VZ. Have a Merry Christmas

  7. “My cousin in Maracay said there are plenty of jobs available for those willing to work for a little over 900000 BFS per month”

    Less than $9 a month – and will be less than $5 a month by January. Can’t see anyone bothering to work for that.

  8. What is this:

    The hundredth article on CC on how difficult it is for VZ’ers to survive these days?

    We fucking know already. These articles come across as just pity pieces. And accomplish nothing.

    I just hope that the people cited in these kinds of articles voted for Chavez, so at lest I can ENJOY that they’re hungry and starving 24/7.

    There’s a lot of bullshit and self-denial that go into these “The Average Man” stories,

    • To Avenger2012. For me, I haven’t stepped foot in VZ in 16 years. I kind like entertainment. When you watch from afar and don’t have live through the chaos, your country seems like it created straight out Kafka short story or Becket Plays. Your country is just adsorb. You got to matters straighten out by yourselves. Like Pinochet did in Chile. But from point of view, the Venezuelans are left in country, are interested in finding the party, play music too loud, the screwed, rob and murder somebody snort some coke, drink a lot Polar, and most of COMPLAIN until the cows (excuse me – the rabbits or flamingoes) come home. You have to do or your own (and by way MUD is not the answer – they are same Mad-Ernie (as described in “Go-Tell-on-a-Sewer” website.. Have a Happy New Year.

    • How could that be? No, it can’t be true that two socialist/communist countries Venezuela and Cuba can’t provide medicine for their people. I expect an in depth analysis by the New York Times shortly. Socialism/communism is known the world over for fabulous health care. You know they do everything for the people, the little guy, snd the poor unlike those capitalist countries.

      • It is only because of the economic war waged by el impero capitalist pigs. Otherwise would be socialist paradise. Signed, Judilynn.

    • J, I’ll send you the email of fellow-poster John after I’ve cleared it with him. Alternately, if he reads this and is interested in your offer of help, he can contact you directly.

      Jan and Feb are big months here for planting along the river because there’s little rainfall and the river rarely exceeds its banks. Also, a Jan and Feb planting allows enough time for the harvest to be completed before the rainfall starts in mid-May.

      Thank you for your offer J, it’s greatly appreciated.

    • Hi J
      Look for an e-mail from John from Caracas Chronicles.

      Hi MR
      After we spoke, I sent an additional e-mail to the seed company and asked about the cantaloupe, watermelon and squash also.
      I hope to hear from him this week and I will try to get this moving to you ASAP.

      I need to do a little research to get in on the ground floor of the new VZ crypto-currency, the Petro

      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-economy/enter-the-petro-venezuela-to-launch-oil-backed-cryptocurrency-idUSKBN1DX0SQ

      Maduro says he is trying to combat a Washington-backed conspiracy to sabotage his government and end socialism in Latin America. On Sunday he said Venezuela was facing a financial “world war.”

      This is as ridiculous as “Springtime for Hitler”. If their wasn’t so much human tragedy involved with these assholes, it would be a comedy better than anything Mel Brooks could ever have imagined. Perhaps someone should tell them that as a rule when a currency is backed by natural resources, they have either been removed from the ground and refined or some type of production is at least stable. The US Silver certificates could be presented for equivalent amounts of silver.

      Is it possible that this is an attempt to sell oil in the ground to Russia and China and circumvent the National Assembly approval process? I can’t think of any other entity that would touch these things.

    • J
      Is there a typo in your email? I received a failure notice.

      MAILER-DAEMON@yahoo.com
      To
      xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
      Message body
      Sorry, we were unable to deliver your message to the following address.

      :
      Unable to deliver message after multiple retries, giving up.

    • “Still, the announcement highlights how sanctions enacted this year by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration are hurting Venezuela’s ability to move money through international banks.”

      With every regime whine about how the US is holding the food and medicine supply hostage because of the sanctions, one feels more and more confident that they’re really making a difference.

  9. Surely, this being 2017 and all, at least *someone* in the Venezuelan government *has* to be aware that hyperinflation is caused by reckless money printing to finance the budget deficit, and worsened by the collapse in supply due to the destruction of national production and the collapse of imports.

    This goes beyond tyranny and into the realm of genocide – The regime is creating a famine of the type that the world hasn’t seen since the days of Stalin, Mao or 1990s North Korea. The Maduro regime is the one waging an “economic war” against the Venezuelan people.

    What I can’t figure out is whether this hyperinflation is engineered by the government to gain more control over the population through food distribution and arbitrage, or whether they are really this unbelievably incompetent.

    After all, the government also loses during hyperinflation, as tax revenue falls between the time the taxes are collected and the time they can be spent, leading to increased dependency of money printing in a vicious cycle. The government is effectively destroying its own wealth, along with the wealth in the rest of the country.

    This story doesn’t have a pretty ending – Be it by an internal military coup, a civil war or someone in that regime finally seeing the light – eventually, if there is anyone left in that government with some modicum of common sense they will end up implementing dollarization or a currency board at the rate determined by whatever forex reserves there are left to end the currency crisis. An imperfect solution, that needs to be accompanied by the removal of all price controls, unifying the exchange rate and cutting the deficit for it to work. A total surrender of monetary sovereignity that is a terrible long-term decision for the country, but at this stage it may be the only measure left to stop people from dying since – as in Zimbabwe, Ecuador, and elsewhere it was tried, it would end the hyperinflation almost overnight.

    Of course, it would also reveal that there was never any economic war to begin with. The enemy was in the government and the Central Bank all along.

  10. With friends like Weisbrot and Serrano, I am not sure that an actual economic war could do any more damage than this regime has. Assuming PSUV could have survived to be a player in the future with less corruption, a bit of competence and staying out of the trafficking business, but now seems hell bent on piloting the country to further depths to retain power, seems the goal is to control the population, starve off confrontation with “el puelbo” and plan on a lack of foreign direct intervention.

    Cat—great first posts the other day, hope you stick around and continue to contribute.

    • Agreed waltz, CCat is a solid poster and I hope he continues to contribute his thoughts and observations. We need as many viewpoints as possible..

      I waffle between believing that the regime’s monetary policy is pure incompetence versus a well thought out and planned effort to bring the population and all private industry to its knees. Tough for a population to think of much else when they’re doing all they can to feed themselves, and especially care for their children.

      My woman loves her bodgea and puts in 16 hours or more a day tending to the business. It’s grown tremendously and many new clients, when first arriving, say, “wow, this place has more merchanise than the ‘chinos’ (the local chinese market)”. I’m really concerned though what next year will bring. I honestly don’t know how we’re going to manage if every time we go to resupply, prices have doubled.

      • “I waffle….” agree, I think at the beginning it was pure incompetence that was easily covered up by the cash coming in from China and high oil prices. Then came the indictments for corruption and drug trafficking, now individual sanctions. Today it may be likely that the only motivation is to remain in power and out of jail.

  11. Any country or group is composed of individuals. When you remove the individual, you have nothing at all. When you remove the ability of the individual to make his own decisions, you remove the country or group. The individual making his own decisions based on his own perception and thought is what freedom is all about, and economically, is what free markets and capital are all about. Any business or farm or production of any kind that you look at anywhere is the direct result of some individual making a decision to do it, talking to and hiring others to participate. Any convenience, from irrigation to herding to clothing and shelter, to electricity to the internal combustion engine to jet planes and currencies, is an idea in a free mind brought to fruition through free markets and capital.

    Socialists do not see this. They believe the world is all wrong and must be brought to heel under their universal dictate to steal from the productive. “manage the economy”, and stop productive activities – or something along those lines, just as long as it destroys a society, an economy, and a nation, and reverts everything back to “simpler” days of hunting and gathering, starvation, and bestiality.

    The proper function of government is to ensure a free market environment where the individual is able and encouraged to make his own decisions. That is why people elect to have government in the first place, to establish principled laws and undertake transportation and utilities projects which benefit all – especially commerce and capital formation.

    • The per capita GDP of a nation is measured as the GDP divided by the population, and those numbers are available, but if you have an oil producer the GDP goes higher than the domestic production – i.e. an oil-dependent economy doesn’t subtract oil from the total to get the non-oil production. Some bean counters somewhere probably have a world ranking of some statistic that measures the actual state of the citizens, economically. It’s widely known that socialist countries end up decimating their population, but not enough attention is placed on that.

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