Maybe he was bored. Presiding over the mass starvation of your country’s people isn’t a cakewalk, after all.

Venezuela’s Joe Stalin lookalike dictator has been criticized for becoming a fat bastard while the people in his country wait for hours in line to get bread, resort to picking through trash for anything edible, and die in the streets of hunger – but that won’t make Nicolás Maduro lose his appetite:

American Thinker has more about this:

Thursday, Maduro was in the midst of a long-winded national speech known in Venezuela as a “cadena.”  He paused, pulled a sandwich-like object out of his desk, and took a bite, chomped it down, and then continued his speech.  He was eating what looked like a Venezuelan arepa, a tasty cornmeal-based snack with probably some meat inside, although the Latin press accounts identified it as an empanada, a dish more commonly associated with Argentina and Chile.

It comes at a time when the Venezuelan daily minimum wage, just raised for the sixth time this year, won’t even cover the cost of an empanada, let alone an arepa, given that inflation is running at close to 3,000% and Maduro has just introduced the new 100,000 bolivar note.

Efecto Concuya, via Google Translate, reports:

For the sixth time in 2017, President Nicolás Maduro announced a new increase in the minimum wage that placed the daily salary at Bs. 5,916, but the number of products that can be purchased with that amount is increasingly reduced.

In a sale of breakfast and lunch located in the municipality of Libertador, a pie costs 5,500 bolivars and a filled arepa exceeds Bs. 12,000. There was Rodolfo Gutiérrez, who bought two empanadas and a malt for an amount of Bs. 15,500. That is, someone who only receives a minimum wage, nothing else could pay for a pie.

In a restaurant located in El Cafetal, municipality Baruta, it is impossible to even buy a pie, because it has a price of Bs. 7,500. A large coffee is also inaccessible since it is sold above 8,000 bolivars.

What it shows is the Venezuelan elites’ complete indifference to the suffering of Venezuela’s people.  They mark their superiority over the masses – not by flashing Rolexes anymore, but by eating in front of them.

And don’t think such a message didn’t get out.  Cadenas in Venezuela break into every TV set, every radio show, every program without warning, no matter what’s playing.  You don’t have the option to flip the channel, because the cadena is on every channel.

And cadenas can last for hours.  The logic was that the president’s announcements were so crucial, so important, and so necessary that every other broadcast could just be broken into, like the emergency broadcast system.

You got that? It wasn’t just a video version of the “hot mic”, people had no choice in watching it if they had a television on, and Maduro knew it.

Is this man stupid or just cruel?

Please pray for the people of Venezuela.

*******

MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

Kindling, pretty much.

by baldilocks

Last day filling in for Fausta.

Still waiting for Former President Obama, actors Danny Glover and Sean Penn or director Oliver Stone to comment on the downfall of Venezuela. Breath not being held.

Venezuela’s currency, the bolivar, is disintegrating at an incredible pace under the country’s political and economic crisis that has left citizens broke, desperate and in many cases, homicidal. The depreciation accelerated this week, after a disputed vote electing an all-powerful “Constituent Assembly” filled with allies of President Nicolas Maduro, which the opposition and dozens of countries have called illegitimate.

Just two days ago, on August 2, we reported that one dollar would buy 14,100 bolivars, up from 11,280 the day before.

The next day, the bolivar slumped nearly 15 percent on the black market, to 17,000 to one US dollar. Today, it has crashed again, tumbling 16% to 20,142, and down almost 40% in just the past three days.

(…)

A kilo (two pounds) of rice, for instance, cost 17,000 bolivares. The crisis biting into Venezuela since 2014 came from a slide in the global prices for oil [sic]– exports of which account for 96 percent of its revenues.

The government has sought to monopolize dollars in the country through strict currency controls that have been in place for the past 14 years. Access to them have become restricted for the private sector, with the consequence that food, medicines and basic items — all imported — have become scarce.

According to the International Monetary Fund, inflation in Venezuela is expected to soar above 700 percent this year. In June, Maduro tried to clamp down on the black market trade in dollars through auctions of greenbacks at the weekly fixed rate, known as Dicom. There is also another official rate, of 10 bolivars per dollar, reserved for food and medicine imports.

“Things are going up in price faster than salaries,” noted Zabala, who spends 10 percent of his income on diabetes treatment, when he can.

Meanwhile, Maduro who earlier this week was branded a “dictator” by the US State Department, has vowed that a new constitution the Constituent Assembly is tasked with writing will wean Venezuela off its oil dependency and restart industry, which is operating at only 30 percent of capacity. But Maduro, who links the “black dollar” with an “economic war” allegedly waged by the opposition in collaboration with the US, has not given details on what would be implemented. Instead, on Thursday Maduro promised that “speculators” setting their prices in line with “the terrorist criminal dollar in Miami” would go to jail.

(…)

Venezuela has to make major debt payments, with a $3.4 billion dollar-denominated payment for state oil company PDVSA looming in October. It is increasingly unclear if the company will make the payment.

But, remember folks: this isn’t the result of socialism, because true socialism has never really been tried yet!

(Thanks to Instapundit)

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

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One of the more annoying things in the current preponderance of opinion pieces instead of actual reporting is the dismissal of news on our hemisphere. Rarely do you find information on, say, Brazil, the world’s ninth-largest economy, unless you actually go looking for it.

Each country is treated as a piece of puff pastry on a tray shaped like South America: Exotic, tasty but a rare treat that you don’t want to overdo, interchangeable. Today, arepas. Tomorrow, guava pastries.

The reports you find are few and far apart, and focus mostly on Cuba as a tourist spot, and on Venezuela as an ongoing train wreck.

Of course, Cuba fits the socialist agenda. By now the “excellent free healthcare” nonsense has been replaced with the “travel to Havana before it modernizes” gimmick. Just last night PBS aired Weekend in Havana, enticing us to “Travel to Cuba’s vibrant, alluring and rapidly changing capital,” while ignoring the very grim reality:

that under the tyrannical regime of the Castros, Cuba is a fourth-world country with collapsing buildings and a crumbling infrastructure that cannot provide humane conditions for its own enslaved people, let alone foreign tourists.

Venezuela gets attention for its horrible near-civil-war, brought about by the implementation of 21st Century Socialism™ which is rarely mentioned. Yesterday’s news carried a few more stories on Venezuela because Pres. Trump is considering sanctions against the communist regime, including a possible oil embargo.

Most of those articles were opinion pieces, low on substance.

It is extremely unusual to read factual reporting connecting the many threads of Latin American politics. Mary O’Grady does an exceptional job this week in her article, How Cuba Runs Venezuela. Havana’s security apparatus is deeply embedded in the armed forces (emphasis added)

Havana doesn’t care about Venezuelan poverty or famine or whether the regime is unpopular. It has spent a half-century sowing its ideological “revolution” in South America. It needs Venezuela as a corridor to run Colombian cocaine to the U.S. and to Africa to supply Europe. It also relies heavily on cut-rate Venezuelan petroleum.

This is the first time this year I’ve seen this mentioned in an article in a national newspaper. O’Grady’s article is a must-read.

One can only wish other “journalists” were in the same league as O’Grady. They might even find a Russia Russia Russia angle – and a little China for measure.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

by baldilocks

From Reuters:

Venezuelan activists are increasingly posting details of locations and lifestyles of leftist officials and their families, depicting them as thriving off corruption while the population struggles to eat in a devastating economic crisis.

The social media blitzes, targeting officials and their business partners, relatives and even lovers, are another weapon in a wave of huge protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s government that began in April. Protesters are seeking early presidential elections, freedom for jailed activists, and humanitarian aid to alleviate chronic food and medicine shortages.

One Twitter account published photos purportedly showing the wife of Vice President Tareck El Aissami enjoying champagne and lounging on a pristine beach with her sisters. In another case, an alleged lover of a powerful Socialist Party official is shown on trips to the Middle East.

Venezuela’s opposition accuses officials of profiting from currency controls and a decade-long oil boom to fill their pockets. The opposition-led congress estimates that at least $11 billion have “disappeared” from state-run oil company PDVSA .

Monica Showalter:

Reuters doesn’t mention it, but this is the outcome of socialism, and not just a one-off event but the usual and inevitable outcome of socialism, which always leads to a protected class[.]

Daniel Ortega got caught shopping on Fifth Avenue buying $3,000 worth of designerluxury sunglasses. Romania first lady Elena Ceaucescu was caught with diamonds on the soles of her shoes. The Castros own billions in assets in Spain, Italy, Argentina, China. Two years ago, the late [Hugo Chavez’s] daughter, Maria Gabriela, was reported to be Venezuela’s richest woman with $4.2 billion in assets. (…)

As a blogger and writer under different venues, I have been reporting this stuff for years. The flashing dollar bill parties of the Chavistas. The Caribbean luxury vacations of the Chavistas. The Miami condo-buying. The trips to Disneyland. The Miami shopping trips. The dollar-bill flashing parties. The Chavista luxury yachts. The social whirl and real estate. These stories extend all the way back to 2004. Yet they never got all that much traction.

As I’ve opined before, most people cannot see the connection between cause and effect, but just to be on the safe side, the MSM would prefer to not only keep silent on information which would spur that connection—on this topic, especially–but also to use active means to distract attention away from the potential connection. Makes you wonder if even certain failed comedians are merely carrying out their orders. If true, the drastic methods indicate that the MSM may be scared.

The future nomenklatura must protect its interests, however. I don’t know if I want to see them become more desperate.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism!

I had a coworker at the warehouse that I work overnight at who used to ride into work with me. He was talking about trying to get fuel assistance and commented on the fact that Citizen’s Energy who used to provide him with oil in the past has not come through for the past 2 years.

What you don’t remember Citizen’s energy, and Joe4Oil? It wasn’t long ago that these ads were all the rage in Massachusetts

That ad while good at tugging at the heartstrings was slightly inaccurate, the oil wasn’t from “The good people of Venezuela” it was from Hugo Chavez who looted his country till the day he died.

The end result? While the Chavez family is one of the richest in the land the people of Venezuela see things like this:

Images of Hospitals that look like catacombs, and prisons that have become maximum security business centers for criminals where no law applies, have become a reference when speaking about the country. But the wound goes much deeper than that.

We’re not just talking about shortages of basic staples such as toilet paper and soap, or daily electricity cuts, the five-day weekends for public employees, or about any of those stories that have turned Venezuela into a punchline with a seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council. No. The economic collapse at the hands of chavista economic policies has brought something deadlier, and so much simpler: hunger.

How bad is it, even the NYT reports…

With delivery trucks under constant attack, the nation’s food is now transported under armed guard. Soldiers stand watch over bakeries. The police fire rubber bullets at desperate mobs storming grocery stores, pharmacies and butcher shops. A 4-year-old girl was shot to death as street gangs fought over food.

Venezuela is convulsing from hunger.

Hundreds of people here in the city of Cumaná, home to one of the region’s independence heroes, marched on a supermarket in recent days, screaming for food. They forced open a large metal gate and poured inside. They snatched water, flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, potatoes, anything they could find, leaving behind only broken freezers and overturned shelves.

Or as Margaret Thatcher might have put it, the Government of Venezuela has run out of other people’s money and that means if you are expecting cheap oil or gas from Joe Kennedy, you’re out of luck

The Joe-4-Oil Heat Program is not currently accepting applications for assistance.

Unexpectedly

  1. Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, but most of it is extra-heavy crude oil.
  2. Under the rule of Hugo Chávez, oil accounted for 95% of the country’s total exports. As Chávez fired 20,000 PDVSA employees and replaced the government-owned oil company’s staff with chavistas while neglecting infrastructure , oil production has declined. Oil production has declined 100,000-200,000 barrels per day this year

  3. Hugo Chávez came to power in 1999. After declaring himself a Marxist in 2010, expropriating private property,  instituting currency controls, and demanding control of PDVSA’s joint ventures with foreign oil companies, the economy declined precipitously. The decline has continued and accelerated under Nicolás Maduro, Chávez’s successor.

Inflation is estimated at 720% this year,

4. Cuban intelligence and military advisors train the Venezuelan security services and monitor dissent and alleged conspiracies against Maduro’s administration. Human rights violations include the imprisonment of dissidents, such as Leopoldo López, who was sentenced to 14 years in jail on charges of public instigation, vandalism, arson and criminal conspiracy.

During López’s trial, which was closed to the media and the public,

The court refused to admit all but one of 65 witnesses for the defense, while allowing the testimony of 108 witnesses for the government.

  1. As the country continues to fall apart and the regime cracks down on protestors, OAS chief Luis Almagro has called for a meeting to discuss Venezuela’s human rights violations of the Democratic Charter.

However, getting at least eighteen votes to sanction Venezuela may prove difficult. Several Caribbean countries that received Venezuelan oil are not willing to join in sanctioning, and Argentina’s current foreign minister and former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s chief of staff, Susana Malcorra, has allegedly pledged to support to Venezuela at the OAS in exchange for Venezuela’s vote at the UN for her nomination as UN Secretary General.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S, and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

…because they have no beer.

It takes materials like malted barley to make beer. There’s barely any grown in the nation. And the decades of idiotic socialist policies from the Venezuelan leaders, including the late Hugo Chavez, has led the money of the nation, the bolivar, to be virtually worthless, and the nation can barely afford to purchase toilet paper. Worstall then notes something from the Wall Street Journal (quotes from WSJ in italic, Worstall regular)

After Empresas Polar SA closed its three other beer plants over the past several days, the shutting of the San Joaquin plant, near Valencia, will leave just a week’s supply of beer, the company said. Like many other firms here, Polar blames the government, which hasn’t allocated the dollars the company needs to pay for imported raw materials such as malted barley.

It’s that word “allocated” which is the problem. So, the company, just like all other importers of whatever, needs access to dollars in order to be able to pay for those imports. This means either being “allocated” some through the bureaucratic system or going out into the black market and just buying some. But it’s not actually legal to do that:

“Without approval and a supply of [foreign] currency to the suppliers, the company doesn’t have a way to operate,” Mr. Mendoza said. “The company cannot go out and buy currency anywhere because it’s against the law.”

So, no legal way to get the dollars if the bureaucracy won’t allocate them and the bureaucracy won’t allocate them. Obviously, the company therefore closes the plants that can’t be run because they can’t get the imported ingredients.

This is what you get with Socialist ideology: no toilet paper, rolling brownouts and blackouts (despite having access to lots of oil), a food crisis, the economy is inmeltdown, communications are tightly controlled by the government, it’s nationalsuicide in slow motion (hit Fausta’s Blog for all things South America) and people won’t even be able to drown their sorrows in beer.

Let’s POLKA!

and POLKA some more!

Of course if they want to Polka in Venezuela, they’ll have to do it without beer.

Odd Note: When I used the reference with my 22 year old son he didn’t get the reference.

I feel old.

Hugo Chávez, back when he was alive, seized farms from their rightful owners in the interest of his “Bolivarian revolution.” He started small,

A group of red shirt-wearing Chavista thugs show up at a farm and seize the farm in the name of the government, under the pretext that the 103 hectare [254 acres] farm is “idle land” and that the law allows them to take it over for “food production.”

And worked his way up,

Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela, ‘has ordered the confiscation of 717,000 acres from a British company amid a disagreement over compensation for earlier seizures of ranchland from the firm.

717,000 acres is nearly the area of the state of Rhode Island (776,957 acres). Soon enough, Hugo ran out of land to seize.

The results are food shortages, rationing, black markets, empty store shelves, and long lines, as it still happens in Cuba, and as it happened in the Soviet Union and its satellites, and in every other Communist state.

Since of course the Venezuelan regime is not going to recognize the fact that Communism doesn’t work, they blame everyone else (another Communist trait), including hoarders,

In March, Venezuelans were so worried about food shortages and diminishing stocks of basic goods, fingerprint scanners were installed in supermarkets in an attempt to crack down on hoarding.

Now, looking at that statement, a couple of things stand out:

  • Individual Venezuelans weren’t the ones installing fingerprint scanners; it was the Communist regime.
  • Venezuela’s shortages are not caused by hoarders; its shortages are caused by failed economic policy. For instance, if I felt a need to hoard toilet paper, I could drive to Costco and spend $200 on a year’s supply, and Costco would still not run out.
  • Venezuelans’ rights are down to nothing – the government even keeps count of their grocery purchases and penalizes those who don’t meet the criteria.

Now

Farmers and manufacturers who produce milk, pasta, oil, rice, sugar and flour have been told to supply between 30 per cent and 100 per cent of their products to the state stores.

“Told to supply” means “to hand over.”

You’re probably thinking, “But Fausta, we have bigger things to worry about: ISIS, border crime, Iran nuclear deals. Why are you carping about Venezuela?”

Because, my friends, Venezuela is showing that free markets and free peoples go together:

markets—the mind of free millions—allocate scarce resources more efficiently and fairly than do committees in Congress; that the collusion of government with either big business or big labor stifles competition and leads to political cynicism; that government will be respected more when it does a few things well rather than too many poorly; and that innovation and human progress spring not from bureaucratic elites but from the genius of individuals.

That is what dictatorships – whether they name their agendas “Bolivarian revolution”, Marxist, Communist, or whatever new term –  don’t want you to know: free markets, free peoples.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog

 

 

 

 

I love cars.

What I love the most about cars is, cars represent independence: An individual with a car at their disposal is free to go anywhere they please, whenever they please, unfettered. All they need is a driver’s license and a full tank of gas. You may not even have to know how to drive, if you can avail yourself of a willing licensed driver. No need to look up mass-transit schedules or routes (unless your trip involves a ferry). No need to get tickets in advance.

Get in the car, and go.

Of course I love luxury cars: Luxury cars with Brits, like Mr. Steed in the 1960s The Avengers TV series and the Jaguar villains (you may enjoy the ad’s “making of” video, too) especially, and of course, beautiful classic cars. I even remember sighing the time I saw a 1930s Bugatti; but I also love new, modestly-priced cars.

Owners of 2016 Hyundai Elantras have at their disposal hundreds of technological and safety features – from paint quality to power steering to traction control systems – at a price that is lower than the annual median U.S. salary, that were not available to the purchaser of a 1930s Bugatti, which only the very rich could afford. The Bugatti’s buyer wouldn’t even have been able to imagine the Elantra’s many features, and the fact that it can be serviced most anywhere in the free world. The Elantra is one sweet ride.

Why is that? Competition: Hundreds of car makers marketing their products in the United States and around the world, competing for the consumers’ favor. A consumer economy beats a command economy, all the way.

I was thinking of this while writing yesterday’s post at my blog on the Venirauto.

What the hey is a Venirauto?, you’re probably asking. The Venirauto is a car manufactured by the Iranians exclusively for the Venezuelan market, now that nearly all foreign car manufacturers have left Venezuela once the government insisted that they could not be paid in U.S. dollars.

Venirauto is 51% Iranian and 49% Venezuelan, 100% government-owned.

Putting aside the extensive and aggressive Iranian presence in Latin America, a subject that ought to be of great concern but goes mostly ignored, the Venirauto embodies a command-driven economy:

  • Francisco Espinoza, president of Venirauto group, “Our achievement is based on inspiration given by our late commander, Hugo Chavez. He wanted Venezuela to ally with Iran, and we’re doing so.”
  • The first model, the Turpial at a price of Bs. 17 million (US$7,906), is a 4-door sedan based on the old Kia Pride model. The second is the Centauro, at a price of Bs. 23 million (US$11,069), and is based on the Peugeot 405 given that the French firm is the main supplier of engines and technology to the Iranian company.

Don’t expect to find those two in Kelley’s Blue Book Top 10 anytime soon: The Peugeot 405 was introduced on 1987 and, according to Wikipedia, is still produced under license in Iran and Egypt but ceased production in France in 1997. The old Kia Pride (not to be confused with the Kia New Pride) was in production from 1987 to 2000. In effect, the Venezuelans, who get government-subsidized gasoline almost for free, can now drive technology nearly thirty years old.

A picture’s worth a thousand words: Compare the new 2015 Venirauto plant with a Hyundai assembly plant at Kancheepuram district in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu October 4, 2012.

For your automotive enjoyment, also compare the 10 iconic Soviet cars with the 10 iconic American cars.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog

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