How did Venezuela end up this way?

Stuff that’s happening in the world that may pertain to our survival. Please keep political debates off the forum.

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:53 pm

From Reuters via Twitter: Venezuela says five 'terrorists' arrested, others killed after shootout
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan authorities on Monday arrested five members of a “terrorist cell” linked to self-proclaimed rogue Venezuelan helicopter pilot Oscar Perez, and killed several other militants during a shootout in a poor area outside Caracas.

Perez appeared with a bloody face in nearly a dozen dramatic Instagram videos early on Monday, saying that he was surrounded by authorities shooting at him with grenade launchers.

State television later read out an official statement that said two police officers were gunned down in the clashes but did not specify Perez’ fate.

A former police pilot, Perez is wanted for using a stolen helicopter to lob grenades and shoot at government buildings in June as well as for breaking into a National Guard unit in December to steal weapons.

President Nicolas Maduro’s leftist government has described him as a “fanatic, extremist terrorist” and a manhunt has been under way for months. Some Maduro critics have questioned whether Perez’ attacks were staged in cahoots with the government to justify a further crackdown on the opposition.

Authorities finally tracked Perez down in the poor hillside neighborhood of El Junquito on Monday.

“We’re wounded ... they’re killing us!” said Perez in one video, seemingly wearing a bulletproof vest as he crouched in what appeared to be a small house. Gunshots were heard in the background.

“Venezuela, don’t lose hope... Now only you have power so that we can all be free,” he said in an earlier video, staring into the camera and telling his children he loves them and hopes to see them again.

His last video was posted about 10:30 am (0230 GMT). A Reuters witness in the area later saw an ambulance speed by and said gunshots were no longer heard.

‘CAUGHT LIKE A RAT’

People look during a shootout between security forces and rogue Venezuelan helicopter pilot Oscar Perez, in Caracas, Venezuela January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello
The Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Members of Maduro’s government scoffed at Perez on Monday.

“What a coward now that he’s caught like a rat!” tweeted Prisons Minister Iris Varela. “Where is the courage he had to attack military units, kill and injure officials and steal weapons?”

Perez, who also has been an action film star and portrays himself as a James Bond or Rambo-like figure on social media, has added surreal twists to Venezuela’s long-running political drama.

He rose to fame in June after allegedly hijacking a police helicopter, flying over Caracas’ center and firing shots at and lobbing grenades on the Interior Ministry and the Supreme Court.

Perez claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was to fight what he said was a tyrannical government. He went into hiding afterward, only to pop up two weeks later at an opposition vigil for anti-government protesters killed during demonstrations that rocked the country last year.

In December, a video posted on Perez’s YouTube account shows armed, masked men taking control of military barracks under cover of night.

They smashed photos of Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, handcuffed about a dozen soldiers and berated them for supporting “dictatorship” in Venezuela. Perez says his team stole about 26 AK-103’s and more than 3,000 munitions for the rifles, as well as pistols.

Opposition politicians called for due process on Monday.

“There is no death penalty in Venezuela,” tweeted opposition lawmaker Yajaira Forero. “We demand that Mr. Oscar Perez’ right to life be respected. If he committed a crime he must be judged by a court, as the law establishes.”

Additional reporting by Christian Veron, Marco Bello, Corina Pons and Eyanir Chinea; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Frances Kerry and Bill Trott.

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Tue Jan 16, 2018 3:54 pm

From Stratfor: Venezuela: Police Raid Suspected Militant Hideout
Forecast Update:

In our 2018 Annual Forecast we wrote, "Renewed dissent alone will not pose an existential threat to the Venezuelan government unless large numbers of police or military units turn against the state." A recent raid on a militant group in Venezuela highlights the efforts of President Nicolas Maduro's administration to nip dissidence in the bud.

Venezuela's government is on a quest to root out its enemies. On Jan. 15, Venezuelan police and a colectivo, or civilian paramilitary group, raided a suspected militant hideout in Caracas. The raid targeted a militant group led by former police officer Oscar Perez that had carried out attacks last year on Venezuelan Interior Ministry headquarters and on a National Guard post. Perez was among the suspected militants killed in the bust, according to the government. Even so, the raid's political consequences may prove more significant than the event itself.

Shortly after reports of the raid emerged on social media and on news sites, Venezuela's former prisons minister posted a message on Twitter calling for the arrest of former intelligence services head and Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres. An unconfirmed report emerged Jan. 16 that the government had issued an arrest warrant for Rodriguez Torres, who allegedly supported Perez's group.

If the rumor is true, the drive to arrest Rodriguez Torres would fit in with the current Venezuelan administration's survival strategy. The government will keep trying to reduce the number of domestic threats against it so that it can focus instead on managing outside pressure, including the looming menace of heavier U.S. sanctions. Dealing with movements such as Perez's militant group before they can attract enough followers to become an existential threat is imperative for President Nicolas Maduro's administration.

Domestic dissent is nothing new for Maduro. Last year, his government removed Venezuela's attorney general after she turned against it, along with Rodriguez Torres. The Maduro administration is trying to make an example of the dissidents it arrests and exiles to discourage other officials from stepping out of line. Having contained its domestic threats, after all, the government will have more room to discuss contentious topics, such as free elections, with its political opposition and with the U.S. government.

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by Halfapint » Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:23 pm

Thanks for all the updates MP! I haven't had much time to read world news recently!
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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:30 pm

Halfapint wrote:Thanks for all the updates MP! I haven't had much time to read world news recently!
Your very welcome, Halfapint. I get Stratfor in my Twitter feed now. I may get a subscription as they are running a good deal at the moment.

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:38 am

From Stratfor:
Venezuela's year-on-year inflation rate could reach as high as 10,500 percent in 2018 according to a report from investment firm Torino Capital LLC, El Pitazo reported Jan. 9. The Venezuelan government's attempts to finance the country's deficit, currently estimated to be 20 percent of the country's gross domestic product, by printing more currency is the primary cause for high inflation. Although Venezuela's continued economic unraveling will likely bring hardship and unrest to its citizenry, it is more likely to cause further emigration from the country than a violent upheaval.
and...
Saying they needed more time, representatives of Venezuela’s government and its opposition parties concluded a round of talks Jan. 13 without reaching a deal on the country's political crisis, Reuters reported. The negotiators said they had made progress, and they set another round of talks for Jan. 18 in the Dominican Republic. The government and the opposition have tried for years to come up with an agreement.
and...
Venezuelan authorities arrested five individuals linked to Oscar Perez's armed insurgent group and killed several other militants in an area outside of Caracas on Jan. 15, Reuters reported. Perez, a former police pilot and action film star, became the subject of a government manhunt after stealing a helicopter and throwing grenades at federal government buildings in Caracas in protest against the government in June 2017 and stealing weapons from a National Guard unit in December. Perez's status remains unknown; Venezuelan state television reported that two police officers had been shot, but did not provide information about Perez, and the Venezuelan Information Ministry did not respond when asked for comment.

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:33 pm

From Reuters: Wave of looting shutters stores, spreads fear in Venezuela
CARACAS/SAN CRISTOBAL, Venezuela (Reuters) - A wave of looting by hungry mobs across Venezuela has left streets of shuttered shops in provincial towns and pushed some store owners to arm themselves with guns and machetes, stirring fear that the turmoil could spread to the capital Caracas.

Worsening food shortages and runaway inflation have unleashed the spate of pillaging since Christmas in the South American country, in which seven people have reportedly died.

The unrest was sparked by shortages of pork for traditional holiday meals, despite socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s promise of subsidized meat to alleviate shortages.

Looters have ransacked trucks, supermarkets and liquor stores across the nation of 30 million people, which ranks as one of the most violent in the world.

The plunder is heaping more pain on battered businesses, raising questions about how much longer they can survive. Venezuela, once one of Latin America’s richest countries, is suffering a fifth straight year of recession and the world’s highest inflation rate, which the opposition-run Congress says topped 2,600 percent last year.

In the first 11 days of January alone, some 107 lootings or attempted lootings have taken place, according to the Venezuelan Observatory for Social Conflict, a rights group.

In one of the most dramatic incidents, a mob slaughtered cattle grazing in a field in the mountainous western state of Merida.

Skeptical that authorities can protect them, shopkeepers in the Andean town of Garcia de Hevia in the neighboring state of Tachira have taken matters into their own hands.

“We’re arming ourselves with sticks, knives, machetes, and firearms to defend our assets,” recounted William Roa, the president of the local shopkeepers’ association.

Roa, who owns a restaurant and liquor store, estimated that more than two-thirds of stores in the small town near the Colombian border were shut.

“A person spends the night in each store and we communicate using WhatsApp groups, coordinating by block 24 hours a day,” he said.

In Ciudad Guayana, a former industrial powerhouse on the Orinoco river in eastern Venezuela, many stores remain closed after a wave of nighttime lootings.

Garbage fills the streets and few cars circulate, though buses crammed with people crisscross town looking for places to buy food.

Businessmen in Caracas now fear the lootings, so far concentrated in the poorer and more lawless provinces, will spread to the sprawling capital, with its teeming hillside slums.

The owners of patisserie Arte Paris, in the city’s gritty downtown, reinforced the storefront with metal shutters last month. They now only stock ingredients like sugar for a handful of days and have considered hiring a costly nighttime guard.

“The fear is real,” said Sebastian Fallone, one of the owners, as men and children begged patrons for food. “I leave at night without knowing what I will find the next morning.”

‘NO HOPE’

Government critics say Maduro’s refusal to reform the OPEC nation’s floundering economy is to blame for the chaotic fight for survival in the country home to the world’s largest crude reserves.

With a presidential election looming this year, Maduro retorts that Venezuela’s oil-reliant economy is under attack by U.S.-backed saboteurs seeking to stoke conflict and discredit socialism in Latin America.

While videos of ransacking have gone viral, Maduro’s government has stayed largely mum. The Information Ministry did not respond to a request for information on the scale and impact of the looting.

The unrest has also stoked fears Venezuelan society could unravel as chaos sets in, fuelling mass emigration to nearby South American countries or a full-blown social explosion at home.

“Small-scale protests will be numerous and increasingly violent; any of these protests could contain the spark to serious unrest,” said consultancy Teneo Intelligence in a note to clients about the year ahead in Venezuela.

In an effort to curb voter anger over inflation, the government agency tasked with ensuring “fair prices” ordered some 200 supermarkets to slash their rates this month, triggering frenetic buying.

Roadside lootings have also scared truck drivers, disrupting the food distribution chain that is traditionally slower anyway in January because of holidays.

For Mery Cacua, manager of La Gran Parada, a supermarket chain in Tachira’s state capital San Cristobal, it has become too much to handle.

“We’re closing in two weeks. There’s no hope anymore,” said Cacua, adding she and her siblings had not yet mustered the strength to break the news to their 87-year-old father, who founded the business 60 years ago.

The family does not know what to do but is considering starting from scratch in Colombia.

Venezuelan supermarkets that remain open are often a shadow of what they once were. Many shelves are barren and poor Venezuelans increasingly mass outside stores, imploring entering shoppers to buy them goods.

“What are they going to loot here? There’s nothing. The warehouse is empty,” said an employee at a big supermarket in Caracas, as a colleague behind him filled empty shelves with water bottles to make them look stocked.

Additional reporting by Maria Ramirez in Ciudad Guayana, Mircely Guanipa in Maracay, Andreina Aponte and Leon Wietfeld in Caracas; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Sandra Maler

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:35 am

From Reuters: Crisis-hit Venezuela's oil output plummets in 2017 to decades low
HOUSTON/CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s crude oil production fell nearly 13 percent last year, according to figures released by OPEC on Thursday, hitting a 28-year annual low that points to a deepening economic crisis and increased chances of a debt default.

The South American country produced 2.072 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2017 versus 2.373 million bpd the previous year, a nearly 300,000-bpd drop.

That was the biggest decline among the members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries that have pledged to restrain production since the start of 2017 through 2018.

But unlike voluntary cuts by Saudi Arabia, Russia and others intended to stoke higher crude prices by draining a global glut, Venezuela has been unable to stop a now six-year-long production decline.

Insufficient investments, payment delays to suppliers, U.S. sanctions, and a brain drain have hammered Venezuela’s oil industry. The production fall has hit oil exports – its only major source of foreign currency to repay debt - and refining, creating intermittent fuel scarcity in the country and at some of its main allies, such as Cuba.

An alleged crackdown on oil graft in the last few months, seen by critics as an effort by President Nicolas Maduro to consolidate power, has sown panic across the energy industry and all but paralyzed state oil company PDVSA, according to people at the firm and in the sector. It is a remarkable downfall for the OPEC member home to the world’s biggest crude reserves.

“This is one of the worst collapses in history. It happened without an invasion like in Iraq, the breakup of a country like in the Soviet Union, or a civil war like in Libya,” said Francisco Monaldi, a fellow in Latin American Energy Policy from Rice University’s Baker Institute. Venezuela’s oil ministry and PDVSA [PDVSA.UL] did not respond to a request for comment.

The output drop is likely to worsen a bitter recession and hyperinflation that have poor Venezuelans skipping meals or eating from the garbage.

Opposition politicians say Venezuela’s inefficient state-led economic model and rampant corruption are to blame for the oil industry’s meltdown.

“This is the most irresponsible act against the Venezuelan people. They destroyed the industry that generates almost 96 percent of the country’s foreign revenue,” said opposition lawmaker Elias Matta.

Socialist Maduro retorts that U.S.-backed opposition supporters have sabotaged the oil sector.

HOW LOW WILL IT GO? Venezuela’s oil gloom is set to persist this year, with the main question among analysts just how low its production will fall.

Just in December, Venezuela’s output sank by 216,000 bpd from November to 1.621 million bpd, the OPEC figures showed, a 29-percent drop from December 2016 levels.

Venezuela’s new oil czar, former housing minister General Manuel Quevedo, has vowed that output will rise to more than 2.4 million bpd this year. But Quevedo, who has no experience in the energy sector, has yet to provide a detailed plan.

January has seen an unprecedented surge in resignations, spurred by dislike of the new management and salaries that often do not allow workers to eat properly, current and former PDVSA employees say.

“They’re desperate to maintain production. Increasing it is too difficult. Internal conditions are devastating,” said one PDVSA employee, who asked to remain anonymous, referring to Quevedo’s output recovery plan.

Still, the most vulnerable oilfields have already clocked the sharpest drops, according to Monaldi, which could limit this year’s decline. He forecasts production to fall another 250,000 bpd-350,000 bpd in 2018, starting from December’s average.

Control Risks and Oxford Economics forecast a 470,000-bpd fall as PDVSA’s unexperienced management struggle to reverse low investment, cronyism, lack of payment, and equipment theft.

Oil consultancy Energy Aspects expects a drop of at least 200,000 bpd in 2018, helping to balance an oversupplied global oil market.

“Underperformance by Venezuela helps OPEC to reach its overall (production cut) target quicker for sure. Once balance is achieved, they will taper the cuts,” Amrita Sen, co-founder of Energy Aspects, told Reuters.

A further production fall could also push cash-strapped Venezuela into full default, which experts say would be one of the largest and messiest credit events in history. Maduro has said Venezuela is willing to restructure its foreign debt, including some $60 billion in bonds issued by PDVSA and the government, but the country has been late with bond payments in the last few months.

As Venezuela is still making efforts to pay, holders of some of the world’s highest yielding debt bonds have so far been tolerant of the delays, but that could change if Venezuela is perceived to no longer have enough income to pay.

Reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston and and Alexandra Ulmer in Caracas; Editing by Andrew Hay and Marguerita Choy

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:37 am

From Wikipedia: Shortages in Venezuela

Interesting article. TL to post here, but it is a must read. It explained much for me.

Scary, cause it's true.

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:14 pm

From NPR: Venezuela Calls For Presidential Election Amid Worsening Economic Crisis
January 25, 2018 3:27 PM ET By Samantha Ralphelson

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro says he will seek reelection in snap elections in April, despite mounting pressure from opposition parties who say he is responsible for the nation's economic collapse and growing authoritarianism.

The pro-government Constituent Assembly this week announced that the vote would be held by April 30, months ahead of when it traditionally takes place.

The United States criticized the upcoming vote as an effort that will only serve to undermine Venezuela's constitutional order.

"The vote would be neither free nor fair. It would only deepen, not help resolve, national tensions," State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement on Wednesday.

Maduro, 55, has been in power since the 2013 death of Hugo Chavez, the founder of Venezuela's ruling socialist party.

Reuters reporter Girish Gupta says Maduro's critics blame him for the breakdown of the country's oil-reliant economy, which has sparked a humanitarian crisis marked by stark shortages of food, medical supplies and other basic necessities.

"The fact is that Venezuelans are really suffering at the moment. They're in queues for food. They're not eating properly," he tells Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson. "You see queues of thousands of people outside supermarkets every single day."

Economic sanctions against Maduro's government have further exacerbated the country's fiscal woes, Reuters reports.

Venezuela is experiencing severe hyperinflation. The International Monetary Fund predicts inflation will hit 13,000 percent in 2018 and that the economy will shrink by 15 percent, Bloomberg reports.

"What this means for Venezuelans is their currency, their money in their pockets, their wages are just worth nothing, absolutely nothing," Gupta says.

Before a rally of supporters on Tuesday, Maduro repeated his nationalist agenda as well as his claim that his government is fighting a U.S.-led right-wing conspiracy to eliminate socialism in Venezuela, according to Reuters.

"Donald Trump is not the boss of Venezuela," Maduro declared. "The people rule Venezuela, not empires."

Many leaders of Venezuela's fractured and weak opposition have been imprisoned by the government, barred from politics or remain in self-imposed exile. They claim the electoral system has been rigged to favor Maduro and his ruling party.

"The election will be held on Maduro's terms, allowing him to ensure victory," the Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy, told Reuters. "All of this will come at a cost of increased international isolation, something that the government seems will to stomach if the tradeoff is to lose power."

Last year, Maduro tightened his grip on power when he engineered the creation of the Constituent Assembly consisting mainly of his supporters, which usurped lawmaking powers from the National Assembly of Venezuela. In November, the new lawmaking body passed an anti-hate law cracking down on the media and prohibiting some opposition political parties from registering with the electoral council.

Protests erupted across the country in response to what the opposition described as an end to democracy in Venezuela. But in a January interview with The New Yorker, Maduro claimed his government is not a dictatorship.

"They say there is a dictatorship in Venezuela, a strange dictatorship, where people have broad liberties, where the people go out to vote at least once a year, where the people choose their leaders freely with direct voting, secret voting," he said. "Venezuela has a democratic society in revolution."

Gupta says on the streets of Venezuela, ordinary citizens are starving and tired of the political turmoil.

"They couldn't care less ... because they need to eat," he says. "The only conversations people have — be they rich or poor or whatever class, whatever education — is what they found at the supermarket last time they went, how long they waited in line."

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by The Twizzler » Thu Jan 25, 2018 7:19 pm

As I understand it (and I am not in the oil business) those claims appear to be true. The problem is that it's not sweet crude like in Saudi Arabia. In order for it to be used for fuel it has to be mixed with sweet crude apparently. I don't know the rate but if we said 1barrel of sweet for every two barrels of Venezuelan oil then even if it's technically more it's still not usable. Also, as I understand it Venezuela does not have the ability to refine it they have to send it elsewhere to do so. Nearest place that does have the ability is the US in the Gulf of Mexico. The US banned Venezuelan oil tankers from it's ports unless they have been decontaminated (oil cleaned off the sides of the ships, the ports of Venezela are supposedly very polluted with oil spills). Now they could unload in Cuba and reship from there, but the US allows no ship that enters Cuba to dock in the US for ( I think it's one month) and no Cuban ships. So the next place is Europe or accross the Pacific to Asia which is expensive and has a long turnaround time and there aren't a lot of them cause oil tankers are expensive.


mantis wrote:The other thing is that the oil reserves that Venezuela claims are highly suspect. They used to be way down the list in terms of proven oil reserves (which is self-reported by each country). Suddenly under Chavez, they reported that their reserves were greater than Canada's and just under those of Saudi Arabia making them second overall.
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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:52 pm

From Reuters: Venezuela eliminates heavily subsidized DIPRO forex rate
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela has eliminated its heavily subsidized DIPRO exchange rate used for imports of food and medicine, according to regulations published on Monday, as it revamps its exchange control system amid an economic crisis.

The OPEC country has for 15 years subsidized hard currency through exchange controls, but has struggled to provide dollars for the system since the 2014 collapse of oil markets - spurring Soviet-style product shortages.

The central bank last week relaunched an exchange system known as DICOM, which most recently sold dollars at 3,345 bolivars. It did not say what the new DICOM rate would be.

The new regulations say all future hard currency transactions will be carried out at the DICOM rate, and in the process eliminates the preferential DIPRO rate of 10 bolivars.

“The (DICOM) rate will apply for all foreign currency operations, for the public and private sectors,” reads Currency Regulation 39, published in the Official Gazette circulating on Monday.

Greenbacks on the black market currently fetch around 255,900 bolivars, a sign of rampant inflation and unchecked expansion of the money supply.

The DICOM system had been functioning last year but was halted after U.S. sanctions against the government of President Nicolas Maduro. Shutting down the system fueled a scarcity of dollars that has forced companies to maintain their operations at a minimum.

The elimination of DIPRO was “a step in the right direction, because it helps correct a foreign exchange distortion,” said Asdrubal Oliveros of local consultancy Ecoanalitica. “But without dollars, things will continue to be complicated,” he added, referring to the government’s limited hard currency cash flow at a time of deep recession.

More than 90 percent of public sector imports are currently carried out at the DIPRO rate, according to Ecoanalitica figures. Such imports are more than 70 percent of the total.

Reporting by Corina Pons, writing by Eyanir Chinea and Brian Ellsworth, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Tue Jan 30, 2018 1:22 am

From AP: Venezuelans ‘loot to eat’ amid economic tailspin
PUERTO CABELLO, Venezuela (AP) — The cab of Carlos Del Pino’s big rig gave him a nerve-rattling front-row seat to a surge in mob attacks on Venezuela’s neighborhood markets, cattle ranches and food delivery trucks like his.

Shortly after pulling away from the docks at Puerto Cabello, the country’s biggest port, he witnessed 20 people swarm a truck ahead of him and in a frenzy fill up their sacks with the corn it was carrying to a food-processing plant. The driver was held at gunpoint.

“It fills you with terror,” Del Pino said.

He has hauled cargo for 14 years, and on a good month earns the equivalent of about $100, enough to support his wife and two daughters. Yet, despite his fears, he sympathizes with his impoverished countrymen, who are becoming desperate amid Venezuela’s widespread food shortages and sky-high inflation.

“They have to loot to eat,” he said.

Sporadic looting, food riots and protests driven by the hungry poor have surged in Venezuela, a country that’s no stranger to unrest. But the uprisings playing out recently have a different face than the mostly middle-class protesters who took to the streets for months last year in political demonstrations trying to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

“These protests are coming from people of the lower classes who simply cannot get enough to eat,” said David Smilde, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America, who has spent decades researching Venezuela. “They want relief, not necessarily to force Maduro from power.”

Venezuela holds the world’s largest oil reserves and was once among Latin America’s wealthiest nations. But after nearly two decades of socialist rule and mismanagement of the state-run oil company, it is being battered by the worst economic crisis in its history.

The surge in violent food protests began in poor neighborhoods across the country around Christmas, when Maduro had promised that holiday hams were coming in government food baskets distributed to his supporters.

But many didn’t arrive, sparking protests with small groups burning garbage in the street and looting. Opposition pundits called it the “pork revolution.” Trying to bring calm, Maduro ordered hundreds of supermarkets to slash prices to the previous month’s level — a tall order in a country where prices have been doubling every few weeks.

Repeating a common refrain, the government blamed the absence of hams on sabotage by its foreign critics, in this case Portugal, which it said was taking orders from the U.S.

“Why didn’t the ham arrive? Because of the blockade against us,” socialist party leader Diosdado Cabello said on state TV, blaming the “gringos” but providing no evidence.

The unrest has cooled some, but many Venezuelans fear it will be a temporary lull as the economy spins further out of control. The International Monetary Fund estimates inflation will reach five digits this year, while the economy, in its fifth straight year of recession, will shrink 15 percent.

Barely solvent businesses say they are reluctant to import more goods, fearing another government-ordered fire sale. As the currency crashes on the flourishing black market, the monthly minimum wage is now worth the equivalent of just $3.

Financial sanctions imposed in August by the Trump administration are only adding to Venezuelans’ misery, choking off the country’s access to credit and scaring away oil companies.

Meanwhile, hunger is widespread.

Recently a dozen men stormed a street-side deli in the western city of Barquisimeto. Surveillance cameras captured them leaping over the glass counter as customers and employees scrambled out of the way. They wiped the store clean in minutes.

Cattle ranchers say at least two farms have been raided by people who slaughtered cows. A video on Twitter shows a dozen men in the state of Merida killing a cow with rocks and a machete, one shouting: “We are hungry.”

In the first half of January, there were at least 110 incidents of looting, more than five times than in the same period a year earlier, says the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict, a non-governmental group that tracks unrest.

Food and the cash to pay for it are more difficult to find, especially outside the capital of Caracas. And even when people have money, prices are often beyond their reach, with the inflation rate soaring above 2,600 percent in 2017, the opposition- controlled National Assembly says.

Looting is part of a wider trend in hunger-related crimes, said Roberto Briceno Leon, director of the Caracas-based Venezuelan Observatory for Violence.

Street gangs are luring poor children as young as age 9 with food, he said. Standing in as a lookout during a burglary used to earn a recruit spam shoes or Wrangler jeans. Now, they get a McDonald’s hamburger, he said.

Briceno Leon adds that some hungry people unable to buy groceries steal food by eating it inside stores. Men riding motorbikes increasingly yank bags of food away from customers who have stood in line for hours, spending what little money they had.

“It’s not just that you do not have money,” he said. “There’s little money to shop with and few products.”

Truckers hauling food — from rice to live chickens — have become targets while stopped in traffic or making a pit stop.

When the mob recently waylaid the truck in front of him, Del Pino rolled up his cab windows and locked the doors in fear the hungry mob would turn on him next.

He pulled his semi out of the line, dodging an attack.

“Here the problem is just that — hunger. Hunger is killing people,” Del Pino said.

Associated Press writer Scott Smith reported this story in Puerto Cabello and AP writer Fabiola Sanchez reported in Villa de Cura, Venezuela.

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Fri Feb 02, 2018 8:13 am

From Bloomberg: Venezuelan Pirates Rule the Most Lawless Market on Earth
Their industry all but destroyed, former fishermen now run guns one way, diapers another. On the sea with the desperate and ruthless.

By Jonathan Franklin January 30, 2018, 4:00 AM CST

Venezuela and the island of Trinidad are separated by only 10 miles of water and bound together by the most lawless market on Earth today. Playing out at sea and on the coasts, it is a roiling arbitrage—of food, diapers, weapons, drugs, and women—between the desperate and the profit-minded. Government is absent, bandits are everywhere, and participating can cost you your life. But not participating can also mean death, because the official economy of Venezuela is in a state of collapse, and the people are starving.

I’d planned to travel to the fishing villages of Venezuela’s northeast coast, in the state of Sucre, to see how the people there were managing amid violence and deprivation. I settled on the villages along the Gulf of Paria, an inlet of the Caribbean abuzz with stories of smugglers, contraband, and pirates. Clearly there were risks: On both of my previous reporting trips into Venezuela, I’d been detained for “illegal reporting,” first for interviewing an emergency room doctor without government permission and then for talking with mourners at a public cemetery. And that was before the onset of food riots, which began in Sucre in the summer of 2016, and also before fishermen began getting murdered by pirates.

By the time of my trip, in late August, Venezuela had descended so far into chaos that I decided to move my focus across the narrow Gulf of Paria to Trinidad, where, immediately upon arrival in the capital, Port of Spain, I went to the fisheries ministry with a tourist map of the islands. I explained to an official there that I was a reporter interested in fishermen and wanted to know where to find the most scenic spots. After patiently listening to an overview of the island’s marvels, I asked him to show me where the smugglers are. The official drew his fingers south down the coast to Cedros and Icacos, a pair of fishing villages close to the shores of Venezuela. I went there directly.

On the Cedros waterfront, next to the pier, I found a group of men lounging under palm trees. I asked them about the smuggling business. “I’m Mr. Flour, and this is Mr. Rice,” said Carlos, a burly truck driver, by way of introducing himself and a friend. Within minutes he was unlocking a cargo van to show off sacks of flour ready to be shipped to Venezuela. Five dollars’ worth of flour in Trinidad, Carlos said, was worth $20 across the gulf.
“I sometimes have flashbacks. I remember when they stick a gun in my ribs and they cock the gun”
I spent that first morning interviewing Venezuelan fishermen who had just made the two-hour journey across the flat waters to Trinidad. They were bringing in contraband cigarettes, cocaine, even a small zoo of wild animals including agouti—a rodent whose meat appears on local menus—and coiled anacondas. But animals are complicated. They bite, have to be fed, and might die. Thus many smugglers prefer guns, vodka, and especially gasoline. The Venezuelan government so deeply subsidizes gas that even after a 1,300 percent price hike last year, a gallon costs less than 40¢—about a sixth of the price at the pump in Trinidad.

Once they sell their contraband in Trinidad, these former fishermen bring a new commodity back to their country: diapers. Dozens of smugglers are dealing in boxes of Huggies and piles of Pampers. They say that back home they’ll get three times what they pay in Trinidad, and demand is so high they maintain waiting lists. “I can trade the diapers for medicine,” Karen Cubillan, a Venezuelan woman who shuttles between Trinidad and Venezuela while working the diaper arbitrage via online sales, told me by phone. “Diapers are like bars of gold. People stash food and diapers as if they were money.”

On the shore I met Gabriel, a 30-year-old Venezuelan fisherman who was loading a rickety wooden boat with infant formula and diapers. Gabriel still fishes: He’d arrived from Venezuela in the morning with a load of shrimp and sold his catch to waiting buyers. But he was about to become more than a fisherman; this would be his first smuggling run, and he admitted to being frightened. “The pirates take the motors and steal the food of people coming in to Venezuela from Trinidad who want to feed their families,” he said. “And it is not just civilians we classify as pirates. The Venezuelan Coast Guard and National Guard are also involved in this. We are more afraid of them than the actual pirates.” Over the past two years, dozens of Venezuelan National Guard members have been arrested for collaborating with smugglers. In a single sweep in September 2015, 50 were rounded up on criminal charges.

Twenty years ago, the villages of eastern Venezuela were home to a robust fishing industry, including the world’s fourth-largest tuna fleet. Industrial trawlers and hundreds of smaller boats worked the waters. In a good month, 10,000 tons of tuna were brought in to local ports, as well as boatloads of sardine, shark, crab, and octopus. Ships from Asia sold their catches to local plants, which froze and stored them by the hundreds of tons. When boats needed repairs, captains took them to the shipyard in the town of Güiria, where vessels from South America, Asia, and the U.S. could all be found in dry dock. Towns such as Carúpano were home to such a flourishing industry that the stench of fish drifted downwind for miles. “You knew you were close when the air began to stink,” recalled Cubillan, who lived there for a decade.

The 1998 election of President Hugo Chávez led to a radical new structure for the industry. Chávez nationalized it and expropriated hundreds of millions of dollars in the form of ships, ports, shipyards, and canning factories. He also promised to retrofit the processing plants to accommodate small-scale fishermen. In 2008, Venezuela introduced a joint venture with Cuba known as the Socialist Joint Venture Industrial Fisheries of the Bolivarian Alliance. Chávez promised that this company, stocked with seized assets, would “eliminate the chain of intermediaries so that the product, at accessible prices, is available to the low-income population.”

But the fishing industry withered under Chávez, and then under Nicolás Maduro, who succeeded him as president in 2013. The warehouse in Güiria burned down and was never rebuilt; the ship repair facilities were shuttered after a few years in government hands. Venezuelan ships not seized by the government were quickly reflagged in Nicaragua, Panama, and Ecuador, and much of the government fleet now lies in port, awaiting repairs and scarce spare parts. From 554,000 tons of fish caught in 1997, the year before Chávez started his revolution, the catch in 2015 had fallen almost 60 percent, to 226,600 tons, according to the Caracas-based Foundation for Sustainable and Responsible Tuna Fisheries.

In 2015 seven major tuna processing plants declared a state of emergency, citing a chronic shortage of the fish. Three thousand workers lost their jobs, according to Jorge Bastardo, union leader at the La Gaviota canning plant in Cumaná. Even when tuna was brought to shore, aluminum was in such short supply that a central cannery was converted into what the government dubbed “the pouchery.” It failed. The public never warmed to the idea of buying plastic pouches filled with watery tuna.

In Cedros, I began searching for a fishing crew that would allow me to join them in a trip out to sea. First I approached four fishermen, knee-deep in the water, as they launched a boat, and asked to ride along. One muscular man drew his fingers knife-like across his neck. Another yelled at me to leave. A police patrol then stopped the photographer who was with me. While they checked his passport, I kept moving.

After several hours walking the beach, I found Navin and Ricky, two Trinidadians in their late 20s who declined to give me their last names. They agreed to let me join their expedition in exchange for gas money. They packed their small fiberglass boat with lines of hooks and half-frozen sardines for bait. The craft was shaped like a long canoe and powered by a single outboard motor. There was no shade. The only technology aboard was an old flip phone Ricky used to activate a primitive messaging service. There was no paperwork, no registration, and no sign of Coast Guard boats, border patrol missions, or even a harbor master. As fellow fishermen helped push their craft through a pile of empty rum bottles and shards of coconut husks into the warm Caribbean, Ricky stopped them for a moment to screw the propeller back on the outboard. He took it off every night. “This makes it harder for thieves to get away with the boat,” he said.
“We pay them in dollars and diapers. Huggies. It’s a brand they don’t get in Venezuela, and they love it”
As we left the coast of Trinidad, a solitary fisherman stood in his anchored boat. He stared at us while pulling in a net that contained a single silvery fish, maybe the size of his palm. He looked at the flopping fish and tossed it back into the sea, as if it were a bother. I was reminded of a conversation a day earlier with a leader of the local fishing cooperative who told me that fishermen are hired to work as the eyes and ears for narcos and thieves. “They have walkie-talkies and call the bandits when we go out,” he said. “If the bandits rob and steal from us, then they get a commission, a percentage.” He said he’d been “taken” four times.

At sea, the typical Caribbean camaraderie of fishermen has been replaced by suspicion and fear. The farther from shore we motored, the more vigilant Navin and Ricky became. Nothing is more unsettling on these waters than the sight of a craft approaching fast from the Venezuelan coast. A speedboat with multiple 200-horsepower outboard motors—the fishermen call these boats “go-fasts”—reaches the middle of the gulf in minutes.

Many of the pirate gangs use Güiria as their base. They go to sea with masks, automatic weapons, and crates of ice to preserve the fish and shrimp they steal from fishermen. This air of experience on the water leads many fishermen to suspect that some of the pirates were themselves once fishermen. The pirates often take not only the catch but also the motors, leaving the crews adrift. When they want the boats as well, they shoot the fishermen or force them to jump into the water before speeding away. Dozens of local fishermen have been murdered in the past two years, leading the Trinidad and Tobago newspaper Newsday to call the area the “Gulf of No Return.”

Ryan Roberts, a Trinidadian I met as he cleaned his boat and unpacked his gear after a day on the water, told me about being attacked by pirates as he fished off the coast of Venezuela in 2015. Five armed men came upon him fast in a speedboat, ordered him to his knees, and interrogated him. “Do you speak Spanish?” they screamed. He shook his head no—most Trinidadians speak primarily English—and feared he was about to be executed. But as they motored toward the Venezuelan coastline, towing Roberts’s boat behind their own, he realized he had been kidnapped. For three days he was held in Güiria. “They go through your phone looking for a few numbers,” he says. “They talked to a person who knew me and began to bust shots in the air. And they said, ‘I got your friend! I got your friend! We want money.’ My friend thought they were fooling. That person called back my phone to see if it was serious, and I said, ‘Yes, I have been taken. I am in Venezuela.’ ”

After days of negotiations and frantic fundraising by Roberts’s extended family and friends, the pirates arranged to free him in exchange for a $46,000 ransom. Using WhatsApp, the two sides met in the open ocean. Roberts’s brother arrived with the cash, and the kidnappers brought the victim. Roberts’s brother threw the money to the pirates; Roberts jumped into the sea and swam for the other boat, guns trained on him the whole time.

Safely returned to Trinidad, he tallied his losses. “They took my boat, my engines, and my family’s life savings,” he told me. “I sometimes have flashbacks. I remember when they stick a gun in my ribs and they cock the gun.” I asked whether he had considered giving up fishing and searching for a safer alternative. He shook his head. “Not really,” he said. “That is how I make money. I am a fisherman.”

I saw few signs of law enforcement in the port or on the water. The Coast Guard station in Cedros, for example, had no ships or watercraft of any sort, and thus no way to patrol. I stood for a time with a uniformed officer at a tiny military base in town. He looked relaxed as he cradled his automatic rifle and watched a boatload of Venezuelans streaming up from the beach below his lookout point. “They come to shore and trade marijuana and cocaine for food,” he said. “Before it was for U.S. dollars, but now they trade for sacks of flour.” At night, Venezuelan bandits sneak ashore to steal nets, outboard motors, and fishing gear. “If they get caught here in Trinidad? They will get their heads chopped off,” he said matter-of-factly. “We don’t get involved. That’s just what happens.”

With the help of a local investigative reporter, I was able to speak with a Trinidadian smuggler who asked that I identify him as Chivo, Spanish for goat. He lived in a two-story rural homestead at the end of a dirt road in Cedros, and when I first met him, he was surrounded by coconut husks and workers harvesting coconuts by the hundreds. “Virgin coconut oil,” he called out, like a street vendor hawking his wares. But after a few minutes, Chivo dropped the act and explained that coconut oil was just a hobby—and a front. His true business is organizing runs across the Gulf of Paria, bringing in immigrants, guns, animals, cocaine, and women destined for prostitution. “The number of boats and activity has doubled in the last year,” he said. “Usually each smuggling boat was making one trip a day. Now we have them making three trips per day.”

We spent an afternoon walking along his 2-mile-long stretch of private beach. Chivo was a loquacious, well-spoken man who appeared to be in his 40s. He gently mocked the attempt I’d been making to blend in as a tourist. “The first day you arrived, three days ago,” he said with a smile, “my men called me and said there was a white boy asking lots of questions. They asked whether they should kidnap you.” He delighted in shocking me by quoting the prices he gets from criminal gangs for automatic weapons acquired from the Venezuelan armed forces: $7,000 for an AR-15, $40,000 for an FAL, $2 a round for military-grade ammunition.

Chivo described Güiria as an epicenter for drugs and arms smuggling. To move contraband past the government patrols off the docks, he said, his people just bribed members of the National Guard. “The U.S. dollar is a very big-talking dollar,” he said. “It’s known as the ‘green paper.’ You give them to each Guardia Nacional, and they are like billionaires in their country when you use the black market exchange rate. We pay them in dollars and diapers. Huggies. It’s a brand they don’t get in Venezuela, and they love it.”

Chivo referred to a bribe as la vacuna: the vaccine. He spoke of Venezuela’s current chaos with a professional detachment. He’d spent time there, and he had a fondness for it, but that was in effect a different country. Now it was simply an opportunity for him. “The crisis in Venezuela has had a great increase in income for the proprietors doing business here in Trinidad,” he said. “Venezuela has gone contraband. End of story.”

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:57 pm

Venezuela's Deepening Crisis Triggers Mass Migration Into Colombia Tuesday, February 20, 2018 4:57 PM ET By John Otis

Venezuela's downward economic spiral has led to widespread food shortages, hyperinflation and now mass migration. Many Venezuelans are opting for the easiest escape route — by crossing the land border into Colombia.

There were more than half a million Venezuelans in Colombia as of December, according to the Colombian immigration department, and many came over in the last two years. Their exodus rivals the number of Syrians in Germany or Rohingya in Bangladesh. Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, a political risk consulting firm, calls it the world's "least-talked-about" immigration crisis.

But Colombians are taking notice. In fact, President Juan Manuel Santos is asking for international aid to cope with the large numbers of immigrants, many of whom are impoverished, hungry and desperate.

"I appreciate the offers of financial and other aid from the international community," Santos said last week. "We need it because unfortunately this problem gets worse day by day."

Santos suggested that the crisis will last as long as Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela's increasingly authoritarian president, remains in power. His socialist economic policies have led to a collapse of the local currency and inflation expected to hit 13,000 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. Still, Maduro is widely expected to secure another six-year term in the April 22 election, in part, because the most popular opposition candidates have been banned from running.

Earlier this month, Santos announced measures to tighten the border but the immediate result has been a spike in new arrivals as Venezuelans rush to cross the frontier before the new rules take hold. Families clog the bridge spanning the Táchira River, the busiest border crossing between the two countries, as they push baby strollers, carry boxes and drag roller luggage into Colombia.

For many, their first stop comes a few feet inside Colombian territory, in the Norte de Santander region, where they unload their jewelry to dealers who purchase precious metals. At one shop, newcomers pull off their rings and unpin their brooches and necklaces. Workers use files and acids to check the purity of the metal. Then shop owner José Alvarado negotiates prices.

He offers the equivalent of about $7 for a woman's silver bracelet and $275 for a man's gold ring, but he rejects a watch for its dubious quality. A Venezuelan who fled his homeland two years ago, Alvarado says he understands what his compatriots are going through. He says the most heartbreaking case was a couple that sold their wedding rings after 40 years of marriage.

"People cry a lot when they sell their jewelry. But they have no choice," he says.

Indeed, Venezuelans need the cash as they travel deeper into Colombia or journey south to Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Argentina.

On the border bridge, several Venezuelans employed by Colombian travel agencies hawk bus tickets. Passage to Lima sells for $241, while Buenos Aires costs twice as much. These freelance agents live on the Venezuelan side of the border and say they too want to get away. But lacking money and passports, they can only dream about the destinations they are trumpeting.

A few miles up the road, in the Colombian border city of Cúcuta, a new business has sprung up to take advantage of the crisis. In the city plaza, hair dealers are looking for clients to sell them locks for making hair extensions. They wear signs around their necks stating, "we buy hair," and shout out the same message.

Nearly all their customers are penniless Venezuelans, including Jefferson Márquez. He arrived two days ago from the Venezuelan city of Mérida with the hair of his 14-year-old cousin in a plastic bag. He sells it for about $4, which he plans to send back to his family.

Another potential vendor is Karelis Nieves. She worked at a supermarket in the Venezuelan city of Maracay but says the business collapsed after it was expropriated by the government. Nieves, 23, came to Colombia last month and is trying to scrounge up money to support her parents and 2-year-old daughter back home. But the hair broker requires locks that are at least a foot-and-a-half long. After pulling out his measuring tape, he informs Nieves that her flowing brown hair is a few inches too short.

There are other ways to get by, including selling street food, working construction and busking.

Street musician Jesús García says he fled to Colombia four months ago. Due to the collapse of Venezuela's currency, his salary as a mechanic on an oil rig was no longer enough to feed his family of four. Masterly on the harp, García has teamed up with a Venezuelan guitarist and the duo plays Venezuelan folk music, called llanero. The spare change people toss into their open guitar case adds up to about $10 a day — more than García made for a week's work in Venezuela.

But others resort to prostitution or street crime to survive, says Carlos Luna, head of the Cúcuta Chamber of Commerce. In addition, he points out that throngs of Colombians who moved to Venezuela during that country's periodic oil booms — or to escape from violence during Colombia's long-running guerrilla war — are now returning.

Luna says Cúcuta must not open refugee centers because he says they would only attract more Venezuelan migrants and exacerbate the problem. However, churches and charities now run a few soup kitchens and shelters where migrants are allowed to stay for 48 hours until they move on to their next destination.

One of the kitchens near the border bridge serves 1,000 lunches per day, including today's meal of chicken and spaghetti. Among the diners is Danny Márquez, who arrived the day before. He used to run a thriving business selling cleaning supplies in Venezuela. But the economic crisis drove him bankrupt. He used to be solidly middle class and is clearly distraught at having to ask for food.

"This is the first time in my life that I've set foot in a soup kitchen," says Márquez, who has tears in his eyes.

He plans to resettle in Chile. But Márquez is bitter about having to abandon his homeland.

"I resisted for two years," he says. "I vowed to myself: 'I'm not leaving. I'm not leaving. I'm not leaving.' But then things became impossible."

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by woodsghost » Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:22 pm

Thanks MP for posting these. It sucks that there is so much material and so many articles. My heart breaks as I read the human costs of all this. I think your posts are important from a Prepping standpoint and from a Human Caring standpoint.

Thank you.
*Remember: I'm just a guy on the internet :)
*Don't go to stupid places with stupid people & do stupid things.
*Be courteous. Look normal. Be in bed by 10'clock.

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -Bilbo Baggins.

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:02 pm

woodsghost wrote:Thanks MP for posting these. It sucks that there is so much material and so many articles. My heart breaks as I read the human costs of all this. I think your posts are important from a Prepping standpoint and from a Human Caring standpoint.

Thank you.
Your welcome Woods. I'll keep posting. Thank you for your kind words.

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Mon Mar 19, 2018 11:46 am

Venezuelan City Launches Its Own Currency Amid Cash Crunch
March 19, 2018 12:15 PM ET By Merrit Kennedy

As Venezuela reels from hyperinflation that has caused a severe shortage of cash, one city is trying to mitigate the problem by printing its own currency.

Elorza, in western Venezuela near the border with Colombia, is selling its own bills featuring the image of an independence leader from the area, according to Reuters.

Venezuela's national currency, the bolivar, has lost the vast majority of its value in just the last year — and it is expected to continue to drop. "Inflation is projected to have exceeded 2,400 percent in 2017 and to rise to about 13,000 percent in 2018," the International Monetary Fund said in January.

Prices have skyrocketed, making it hard for people to afford basics necessities such as food or medicine. And even if people do have the money, it's hard to actually find enough cash to buy the goods.

"People don't have bolivares to spend, that's why we have created bills of two denominations," mayor Solfreddy Solórzano told the BBC.

Elorza has a festival that starts Monday, according to the broadcaster, and local authorities and businessmen were worried that the cash crunch would cause the city to lose business.

"Now those who want to buy just a sweet or even a whole cow from the barbecue, will be able to do so," cattle breeder Canuto Garcia told the BBC.

The mayor's office is selling the local currency at an 8 percent commission, according to Reuters, which can be purchased with bolivars using a card or bank transfer. "People will be able to return the tickets to the mayor's office and claim a bolivar-denominated refund," the wire service adds.

This isn't the first local currency to launch in Venezuela recently. As Venezuela's El Nacional newspaper reports, economist Jose Guerra says that the hyperinflation is causing what he termed "mini central banks" to emerge.

Last December, one neighborhood of the capital Caracas started issuing an alternative currency, which it called the panal. As The Associated Press reported, that currency could only be used in a few stores and was meant to help the struggling area buy basic staples such as rice.

At the time, opposition politician Jose Guerra expressed concern that multiple currencies in the country could further deepen the crisis by creating "monetary chaos," the AP added.

Last month, President Nicolas Maduro also proposed a state-sponsored cryptocurrency to ease the cash crunch.

Reporter John Otis told Morning Edition that each unit of the currency would be backed by one barrel of oil. The president has touted the currency as a new innovation, Otis reports, though it has been met with skepticism by some critics who note that the oil that is "backing" the currency has not actually been taken out of the ground yet.

As Reuters reports, Maduro's government "blames the country's crisis on an 'economic war' being waged by Washington and the opposition, aimed at toppling his government."

But critics say strict currency controls are a major factor contributing to the crisis. The Council on Foreign Relations explains:

"By selling U.S. dollars at different rates, the government effectively created a black market and increased opportunities for corruption. A business that is authorized to buy dollars at preferential rates to purchase priority goods like food or medicine could instead sell those dollars for a significant profit to third parties."

The country recently reintroduced currency auctions to try to address hyperinflation and foreign currency shortages, as Bloomberg reports, leading to its official rate to lose 80 percent of its value in February. Bloomberg adds that rate was still about 10 times stronger than the black market rate.

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by NamelessStain » Thu May 03, 2018 11:03 am

I guess someone told Maduro that Zimbabwe had the highest inflation rate of all time. His response "sostén mi cerveza" (I might have screwed up the translation, so... "Hold my beer")

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation- ... 82264.html
jnathan wrote:Since we lost some posts due to some database work I'll just put this here for posterity.
Q wrote:Buckle up

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by Stercutus » Thu May 03, 2018 5:32 pm

Estimates put the number of people fleeing Venezuela at 3000-5000/ day. Columbia now has 6700,000 refugees living there. There are about 1.1 Million refugees in other countries right now, about 3% of the population. Figure that most of those are going to be the smartest and resourced enough to escape, likely the ones who had their businesses confiscated under the regime.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions ... 15edc2fd01
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by NamelessStain » Fri May 04, 2018 5:03 am

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation- ... 63554.html

So, elections on May 20? Might make it easier just to post results now and save the money.
jnathan wrote:Since we lost some posts due to some database work I'll just put this here for posterity.
Q wrote:Buckle up

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by Stercutus » Fri May 04, 2018 6:33 am

NamelessStain wrote:http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation- ... 63554.html

So, elections on May 20? Might make it easier just to post results now and save the money.
“If someday a government was in power that intended to hand over [our] my riches, I would be the first one to raise the alarm, grab a gun and start an armed revolution with the people, if necessary,” he told a crowd of supporters in Vargas. “I would be the first one to do it, and call the people to arms.”
Tough to call a country rich that is being buried under a tsunami of economic failure but at least one guy can live like a king.
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by Asymetryczna » Fri May 04, 2018 6:58 am

DENNIS [played by Stercutus]: Oh king, eh, very nice. And how'd you get that, eh? By exploiting the workers -- by hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society! If there's ever going to be any progress--
Ha! The starving probably see you as a king, given your great abundance and choices to stay away from old meats.
I'd love to talk about Venezuela, but:

economics, and elections, and refugees, oh my...
economics, and elections, and refugees, oh my...
economics, and elections, and refugees, oh my...
It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
Henry David Thoreau

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by Stercutus » Fri May 04, 2018 7:05 am

Zombie Squad: We're livin' in a dictatorship! A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes... If only people would...
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother

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Re: How did Venezuela end up this way?

Post by MPMalloy » Fri May 04, 2018 11:49 am

Stand back in AWE of True Socialism!

(whatever the fuck that is)

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