By Daisy Luther
Venezuela is out of food.
After several years of long lines, rationing, and shortages, the socialist country does not have enough food to feed its population, and the opposition government has declared a “nutritional emergency.” This is just the most recent nail in the beleaguered country’s slow, painful economic collapse.
Many people expect an economic collapse to be shocking, instant, and dramatic but, really, it’s far more gradual than that. It looks like empty shelves, long lines, desperate government officials trying to cover their tushes, and hungry people. For the past two years, I’ve been following the situation in Venezuela as each shocking event has unfolded. Americans who feel that our country would be better served by a socialist government would be wise to take note of this timeline of the collapse.
A quick review: Why Venezuela Is Out of Food
In 2013, many began to suspect that the outlook for Venezuela was grim when prepping became illegal. The Attorney General of Venezuela, Luisa Ortega Díaz, called on prosecutors to target people who are “hoarding” basic staples with serious sanctions.
Shortly thereafter, grocery stores instituted a fingerprint registry to purchase food and supplies. Families had to register and were allotted a certain amount of supplies to prevent “hoarding.”
Then, just over a year ago, it became even more apparent that the country was falling when long lines for basic necessities such as laundry soap, diapers, and food became the norm rather than the exception. Thousands of people were standing in line for 5-6 hours in the hopes that they would be able to purchase a few much-needed items.
Shortly after the story broke to the rest of the world, the propaganda machine shifted into high gear. As the government began to ration electricity, it was announced that this was not due to economic reasons at all, but instead was a measure of their great concern for the environment.
As the situation continued to devolve, farmers in Venezuela were forced to hand over their crops last summer. They assumed control of essential goods like food, and began putting retail outlets out of business. Then, once they had control of the sales outlets, they began forcing farmers and food manufacturers to sell anywhere from 30-100% of their products to the state at the price the state opted to pay, as opposed to stores and supermarkets.
But that wasn’t enough to keep the population fed. (Isn’t it astonishing how much less motivated people are to produce food and supplies when they are no longer allowed to benefit from their hard work? Historically, collectivism and farming have never gone successfully hand in hand.) This January, the government told citizens that they would need to produce their own food. The Ministry of Urban Farming was created to oversee this. While self-reliance sounds great, it isn’t so great in Venezuela. Just so the urban farmers don’t get too self-reliant, a registry of the crops and livestock will be required. (And obviously, they’ve already proven that they have no issue forcing farmers to hand over what they’ve produced.)
Now, it looks like all of the socialist measures and forced food production haven’t been enough to keep the people of Venezuela fed. The country is in so much trouble now that it isn’t possible to cover it up with propaganda.
According to Breitbart.com, lawmakers have learned nothing.
Socialist legislators are hoping to manipulate the initiative in the other direction, and use it to expand government control of private food enterprises. Legislator Héctor Rodríguez has insisted that the economic emergency “does absolutely nothing,” and the government should impose itself on private enterprises. Another socialist legislator, Ricardo Molina, is calling for the government to expropriate Polar, Venezuela’s largest private food corporation: “we have to intervene on private sector enterprises.”
Venezuela previously forced a Polar food distribution center in Caracas to shut down in July, putting 12,000 tons of food, six million liters of soft drinks, and 2,000 jobs at risk.
And now, the announcement of the “nutritional emergency” makes it official. Venezuela is out of food, and it’s only a matter of time before Venezuelans are quite literally starving due to a long series of terrible decisions by their leaders.