Archive for the ‘Venezuela’ Category

cnn war propagandaVenezuela has revoked or denied press credentials for seven CNN journalists working in the country for what President Nicolas Maduro called “war propaganda” amid coverage of anti-government protests.

Before the conditions on credentials were announced, Maduro said he would eject CNN from the country if it did not “rectify” its coverage amid a spike in the unrest that has gripped Venezuela. According to officials, at least eight people have been killed since demonstrations mounted by the opposition turned violent last week.

“They want to show the world that there is a civil war in Venezuela,” Maduro said of CNN in a televised speech on Thursday.

He added that CNN was not showing “the people working, studying, building the homeland.”

“I’ve asked the [information] minister to tell CNN we have started the administrative process to remove them from Venezuela if they don’t rectify [their behavior],” Maduro said during the speech aimed at supporters, according to Reuters. “Enough! I won’t accept war propaganda against Venezuela.”

The pro-government audience applauded, chanting “Fuera! Fuera!” (“Out! Out!”)

The seven journalists – working for CNN International and CNN en Español – were notified later on Thursday about their credentials being revoked or denied. Despite the move, both entities said they will continue to broadcast from Venezuela.

Maduro did not mince words when describing how he viewed CNN’s coverage of demonstrations that have challenged his authority.

“A group of fascists with their aggressions want to take us away from peace,” Maduro said. “They are not going to do that. And we are going to show them.”

CNN has requested meetings with Venezuelan officials. Both CNN and CNN en Español were invited to a Maduro news conference scheduled for Friday afternoon.

“CNN has reported both sides of the tense situation in Venezuela, even with very limited access to government officials,” CNN en Español said in a statement, adding that at the time of the credentials announcement, they were seeking an interview with the president.

“We hope the government will reconsider its decision. Meanwhile, we will continue reporting on Venezuela in the fair, accurate and balanced manner we are known for.”

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro greets supporters during a rally in Caracas February 18, 2014.(Reuters / Miraflores Palace)

Local television networks have offered very little coverage of the protests, Reuters reported, leaving opposition leaders to use streaming websites on unreliable broadband to speak live to fellow Venezuelans.

Maduro ordered that Colombia-based network NTN24 be removed from Venezuelan cable after it showed live coverage of the demonstrations last week. The move was criticized by the likes of Reporters Without Borders.

Maduro, who was elected last year as the heir apparent following the death of long-time President Hugo Chavez, has accused the opposition – which he calls “fascists” – of fomenting a coup and inciting violence.

The majority of the opposition consists of middle class students who are frustrated with the country’s sputtering economy and soaring crime rate, and are seeking a regime change. They also allege that the recent presidential election was rigged for Maduro.

Venezuela’s ruling party, meanwhile, has long maintained that the US is playing a role in propping up the country’s opposition, and seeking to subvert the Maduro administration. That vitriol was sustained during Hugo Chavez’s tenure as the country’s leader; he often referred to an unsuccessful 2002 coup which heavily implicated US coordination.

Earlier this week, Venezuela expelled three US diplomats from the country, alleging they were working with opposition members against the government. The US State Department has denied the accusations.

The latest spout of violence came on the heels of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez’s surrender to government authorities during a large rally in Caracas. Lopez, who has recently become a rising star among Maduro opponents, is alleged to have played a role in the 2002 coup attempt.

Lopez, the Harvard educated 42-year-old leader of the Popular Will party and a former mayor, is being held responsible for the casualties that have resulted as demonstrators continue to clash with government forces. Though according to his lawyers, prosecutors have dropped the most serious charges of murder against him.



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maduro_floresVenezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has stated he will take “the most radical measures to protect our people’s economy” as a deadline for businesses to adhere to new price controls approaches.

“We will expropriate whatever needs to be expropriated,” the president said during a speech in Caracas amid commemorations of the 22nd anniversary of the 1992 failed coup d’état. The coup was led by Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez. Although he served prison time for the insurrection, Chavez’s popularity was bolstered, and he went on to win the 1998 presidential elections by a landslide.

Maduro has pledged to continue the socialist revolution started under Chavez. “I’m determined to make an economic revolution. Nobody, nothing will stop me,” Maduro added.

New Price Controls

During his address on Tuesday, Maduro declared that businesses have until 10 February to fully comply with new price controls.

The Law for the Control of Fair Costs, Prices and Profits came into effect nationwide on 23 January, but businesses were given a grace period to adhere to the new controls. Under the law, profit margins are restricted to a maximum of 30%, though specific regulations vary between sectors, products and geographic areas. The law also imposes new penalties for economic crimes such as hoarding and price speculation – both of which are punishable by up to a decade imprisonment.

Three new offences are also added under the law: economic destabilisation, unauthorised resale of certain products and a new category of corruption.

Other offences listed under the law include usury, product tampering, price tampering, smuggling and speculation.

Maduro urged the private sector to voluntarily comply with the new law by self-regulating prices.

“Next Monday, if companies are found violating the fair prices law, I will implement the most radical measures [yet],” the president warned.

However, within hours of the speech Venezuela’s largest commercial lobby group declared it’s planning a legal challenge to the new law.

Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce (Fedecamaras) president Jorge Roig stated that the law imposes undue restrictions on businesses.

“Not only it is unconstitutional, but also makes the situation of the country dramatically worse,” Roig stated, according to conservative newspaper El Universal.

“In a meeting of the board of directors, it was unanimously decided to take legal actions to request the annulment of the Law on Costs and Fair Prices,” he said.

Colombia and Venezuela cooperate to “crush” smugglers

Along with warning businesses, during his speech yesterday Maduro also declared that a “shock” plan would be launched to tackle smugglers.

“The Bolivarian National Armed Forces will continue to be deployed throughout the country, confronting the economic war that we have been attacked by since 2013,” Maduro stated.

The Venezuelan head of state said he is committed to ending “this problem that is affecting all of us Venezuelans”.

In the morning before his speech security forces uncovered a smuggler’s “warehouse with thousands of products, food and blankets” near the Colombian border, according to Maduro.

“The boss who was responsible has been arrested, and will pay with 14 years in prison,” Maduro stated.

30 tonnes of contraband flour and 110,000 litres of diesel fuel were also seized this week in the border state of Zulia, according to local police.

In a press release issued today, Zulia state deputy police chief Cesar Augusto Martínez stated the contraband was found in a municipality south of the state capital Maracaibo.

“It’s assumed that the fuel would have been transferred to a neighbouring country,” Martinez stated.

Tomorrow the government will meet with Colombian authorities to discuss strategies to counter smuggling on the shared border.

Maduro has stated he hopes to see the meeting produce tougher new measures to “crush the smugglers”.

Earlier this week the head of the National Assembly (AN) Diosdado Cabello stated that between 30 and 40 percent of Venezuela’s imported and domestically made food products are smuggled to Colombia.

“A bottle of water costs Bs10 in Venezuela, while when it goes to Colombia it costs Bs600,” Maduro said yesterday.

The president has labeled smugglers part of an “economic war” that he says is driving inflation and scarcity of consumer goods.

Products ranging from corn flour to dish washing soap have been scarce in some parts of the country in recent weeks.

Business groups including Fedecamaras have blamed currency controls for the shortages, claiming the government isn’t supplying out enough foreign cash for imports.

However, last week Maduro announced a government initiative to streamline imports.

The Estado Mayor de Abastecimiento (Supply Command) is an administrative task group mandated with overseeing improvements to Venezuela’s import process. Its members include the ministers of agriculture, food, industry, economics, finance and the head of the new consumer protection body, the National Superintendency for the Defence of Socioeconomic Rights (Sundde).

“The Supply Command will be installed to coordinate plans and actions needed,” Vice President  Jorge Arreaza tweeted on Monday.

SICAD cancelled this week

Maduro has also pledged to increase access to dollars for industries through the Complimentary System of Foreign Currency Acquirement (Sicad).

Although the government tightened access to official rate currency in January, Maduro stated that double the amount of cash would be offered this year in the government’s weekly Sicad dollar auctions.

Sicad has held regular currency auctions since last year, offering foreign currency at a rate of around Bs11.30 to the dollar, according to the latest figures. US$220 million was set to be up for offer at this week’s auction, until it was unexpectedly cancelled by the central bank yesterday.

“This determination owes to a series of anomalies and noncompliance with required procedures, which were detected after an exhaustive review of the orders,” the central bank stated in a brief press release.

No further details of the cause of the cancellation were provided.

Suppliers of paper and timber products, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, textiles and footwear had been invited to participate in this week’s auction.


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The U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network released its World Happiness Report for 2013 last week. Following up on the first such report, released last year, the U.N. says that the 2013 edition

delves in more detail into the analysis of the global happiness data, examining trends over time and breaking down each country’s score into its component parts, so that citizens and policy makers can understand their country’s ranking. It also draws connections to other major initiatives to measure well-being, including those conducted by the OECD and UNDP’s Human Development Report…

The World Happiness Report, as with similar such studies as the Happy Planet Index is in part a response to perceived shortcomings with traditional economic and social measures such as growth, poverty rates, employment, education, life expectancy and other indicators.

While U.S. media coverage of the report was not overwhelming, there was some. The report was also covered in numerous international outlets in countries throughout Europe, in Asia, Africa and Australia and New Zealand, among others. CNN noted that

“On a regional basis, by far the largest gains in life evaluations in terms of the prevalence and size of the increases have been in Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Sub-Saharan Africa”, the report said. Reduced levels of corruption also contributed to the rise.

But CNN neglected to mention that Venezuela ranked first – again – among South American nations as happiest.

One of the only U.S. newspapers to note Venezuela’s ranking was the Deseret Morning News, whose editorial page associate editor was puzzled by the country’s relatively high placement: “Venezuela finished 20th, which must mean happiness doesn’t equate with being able to find milk in the store after years under Hugo Chavez?” – a reference to shortages of certain goods this year.

Among happy South American countries, Venezuela is a returning champion, having been ranked number one on the continent in 2012 as well, “beating some of its Latin American neighbours, such as Mexico and Brazil,” and “also topp[ing] many European countries such as France, Spain, Italy and Germany,” as Rachael Boothroyd noted last year. Venezuela also came out on top in a South America happiness comparison in 2011, and was ranked number 9 out of 151 countries on the Happy Planet Index.

Overall, mostly Northern European countries ranked happiest in the new World Happiness Report: Denmark ranked first, followed in order by Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Why has there been so little attention to the report – and to Venezuela’s ranking in it, among the U.S. outlets that did cover it? Could it be that the gains in Venezuela over the past decade challenge the conventional wisdom routinely reported in the press that Venezuela is a mess in terms of its economic, politics and security, and which typically presents Venezuelans as unhappy? As the Huffington Post notes:

The report — which analyzed 156 countries — is intended to be used as a means of improving policy making worldwide by highlighting how people around the world measure their well-being. The findings were based off national statistics and several surveys, including the Gallup World Poll, to assess a population’s emotional happiness and overall satisfaction with life. [Emphasis added.]

It is perhaps not surprising that media outlets that regularly try to convince their audiences that the social democratic policies being pursued in countries in Scandinavia, South America and elsewhere are a failure don’t want to report the contentment of citizens living in these countries.

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nicolas-mVenezuelan authorities have warned of a suspected plot by “extreme right-wing” groups to assassinate Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.

The alleged conspiracy was revealed in a press conference on Monday by Interior Affairs Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres, who said that figures in Venezuela, Colombia and the United States were involved.

Rodriguez informed that on 15 August Venezuelan authorities captured two Colombian citizens in a hotel in Miranda state, near Caracas. They were found in possession of two rifles with laser sight, ten Venezuelan army uniforms, and a photograph of President Maduro and National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello.

The two men, of eighteen and twenty two years of age, were presumably contracted by a Colombian named Alejandro Caicedo Alfonso (alias David), and crossed the border into Venezuela on 13 August. The men are part of a “destabilization group” of about ten people, said Rodriguez.

The Venezuelan intelligence service SEBIN is also searching for a Venezuelan man named Carlos Salcedo, who authorities believe is involved in the alleged plot and is responsible for supplying the rifles to the apprehended Colombians.


Interior affairs minister Rodriguez said that the government believes the suspected plot to assassinate Maduro is part of a conspiracy planned by the Venezuelan “extreme right wing” in collaboration with counterparts in Colombia and the United States.

Authorities consider the “brains” of such an operation to be Luis Posada Carriles. Cuban-born Carriles is resident in Miami, and is wanted by Venezuela and Cuba on extradition charges for his alleged role in the bombing on a Cuban airliner in 1976 that killed 78 people.

Further, Rodriguez accused former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe of involvement in the alleged plot. “I am denouncing that this conspiracy is being woven from Miami, in connection with Bogota, and that Alvaro Uribe, without any doubt, has knowledge of everything happening here,” he stated.


President Nicolas Maduro responded to Rodriguez’s affirmations by demanding U.S. President Barack Obama confirm whether he possesses information of any such conspiracy, and if so, to act accordingly.

“President Obama, is it that you don’t know that in the United States the Posada Carriles group conspires, monitored and tutored by Otto Reich and Roger Noriega, to commit terrorist acts and presidential assassination in Venezuela?” asked Maduro.

The Venezuelan president further stated that if Obama does know of such a plot and does not act, then “he is implicated”.

Maduro said that the alleged assassination plot would be in order to “destroy” the Bolivarian revolution, arguing that, “To assassinate me is to begin a civil war in Venezuela”.

“I am a guarantee of peace…I’ll do everything within my ability to continue building peace in this country,” the Venezuelan head of state continued.

The conservative opposition in Venezuela meanwhile has taken a dismissive attitude to the information, with opposition leader Henrique Capriles referring to the government’s accusations as “lies” and “recycled stories”.

Alvaro Uribe and Posada Carriles have likewise denied the veracity of the allegations, calling them “infamy” and “absurd”.

Nicolas Maduro responded by commenting that among the Venezuelan opposition, “there is a strange nervousness; they try to make it [the alleged plot] into a joke”, which he said made the opposition “look bad in front of the country”.

The Venezuelan government has previously alerted the country to suspected plots to assassinate President Maduro, claiming that since the death of late President Hugo Chavez extremist conspiracy efforts have increased in an attempt to “finish” the Bolivarian revolution.

The most notorious of these alerts occurred two days before the April 14 presidential election, when authorities announced the capture of armed paramilitaries in possession of explosives who were presumed to be on a mission to “destabilize” the election.

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Nicolas Maduro


The consolidation of a system of “popular government” will be the primary goal of the second stage of Venezuela’s Street Government initiative, President Nicolas Maduro announced yesterday during a ceremony at Caracas’ Mountain Barracks, where the coffin of Hugo Chavez is being held, to honor the birthday of the late president.

In his speech, Maduro listed ten other objectives that the program would focus on moving forward.

Regarding the issue of insecurity, Maduro spoke of the strengthening of the Plan Secure Homeland, in which members of the military patrol crime-ridden areas. He also called for peace among Venezuelan youth, adding that numerous armed groups would soon turn in their weapons to be incorporated into various social programs.

Further objectives focused on restoring the supply of basic products and exchange rate controls to combat inflation; detecting and prosecuting cases of corruption; and stabilizing the country’s system of electricity, which occasionally leaves blackouts in some regions of the country.

Maduro also expressed support for the Military Street Government program, an initiative launched under new Defense Minister Carmen Melendez.

“Don’t stop: continue with your plans to visit barracks, military units, academies, and schools to strengthen and improve them. You know that you can count on me as President of the Republic and as commander in chief of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces,” he said.

Since being launched at the end of April, Maduro’s Street Government has approved 2,450 projects, which arose from over 2,000 popular assemblies and other activities held throughout the country. Maduro stated that the outreach had allowed the government to interact with over 3,483,000 citizens.

“It’s a contact from the people to the people,” Maduro said, “because we too are the people. Here, the bourgeoisie, the bigwigs of the right, are not governing. The working class people are governing.”

At an earlier event yesterday in Sabaneta, Barinas state, the hometown of Chavez, Maduro  indicated that the second phase of the Street Government would begin “very soon … from Sabaneta, through all of Venezuela.”


Interested in showing your support for President Maduro, the ongoing Venezuelan Revolution while also helping our project here at the Green Star?  Order a President Maduro shirt here!

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putin-maduroMérida, 2nd July 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Yesterday in Russia the Venezuelan government participated in the second summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), and President Nicolas Maduro also held a private meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, signing five new cooperation agreements.

Venezuela is one of 11 member countries of the GECF, which held its second summit on Monday, Moscow time, in the Kremlin Palace. Established in 2001, the GECF is an intergovernmental organisation of some of the world’s leading natural gas producers. The other member countries are Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, and Trinidad and Tobago. The GECF’s member countries combined control over 70% of the world’s natural gas reserves, 38% of pipeline trade, and 85% of liquefied natural gas production.

At the summit, Maduro proposed the creation of a financial fund or a bank between the gas exporting countries. He argued that the proposal wasn’t just “about building a gas bank, but rather so that our public companies and the most powerful companies of our countries can join together to increase the investments in projects that each country is carrying out”.

He argued that one of the main aims of the summit should be joint work, including exchange of experiences and policies that favour better management of gas. For that, he proposed creating a research institute between the member countries.

Maduro announced that “in approximately one year” Venezuela could be “certified as [having] the fifth [largest] gas reserve in the world”.

In 2009 the Venezuelan government estimated that there are 200 million cubic feet of natural gas along the Venezuelan coastline. Natural gas is heavily subsidised in Venezuela, and while the government has been developing projects to introduce gas run cars, they have yet to be implemented on a mass scale.

The Moscow Declaration coming out of yesterday’s summit, titled “Natural Gas: The answer to the 21st century sustainable development challenges”, declared the forum’s “determination” to strengthen the GECF as a platform for advancing member countries’ position on international gas market issues.

The declaration also wants countries to enhance coordination to protect each other in all areas, including interactions with regulatory authorities of gas consuming countries. Member countries pledged to continue to support gas pricing based on oil products indexation, and to promote the expansion of natural gas utilisation in different forms, including motor fuel and feedstock.

At the first summit in November 2011, the GECF decided that natural gas prices were too low and recognised the “importance of long-term gas contracts to achieve a balanced risk sharing mechanism between producers and consumers”.

Bilateral meeting with Putin

While in Russia Maduro also met with Putin in order to ratify the continuity of their countries’ strategic alliances. The two countries currently cooperate in the areas of energy, defence, agriculture, housing and technology.

“Russia can count on the homeland of Simon Bolivar…we have come to ratify our desire to strengthen this strategic alliance and the close relationship of cooperation between both nations,” Maduro told press after the meeting.

Putin expressed similar sentiments and announced that an important street in Moscow will be named after the late Hugo Chavez “so that he remains in the Russian people’s memory”.

The street was inaugurated today with a ceremony attended by Maduro and the head of Russia’s state owned company, Rosneft, Igor Sechin. It is located in the north east of Moscow, is 170 metres long, and surrounded by parks and a small square.

In further comments on the meeting with Putin, Maduro said, “We’ve held an extensive work meeting with President Putin… we want to continue to tighten the relationship between both countries… Russia and Venezuela are progressing in the energy, petroleum, and gas sectors, as well as with military cooperation and the development of a relationship in the financial, education, and cultural sectors”.

The two countries signed five new agreements, for a total of 240 ongoing agreements, which fall into 14 strategic areas. One new agreement involves creating a joint venture for natural gas production between Venezuela’s PDVSA and Rosneft. The two presidents also discussed opening up a direct flight between Moscow and Caracas, in order to facilitate tourism and trade.

“When we take on the presidency of Mercosur on 12 July, we want the relationship between Russia and the other countries of Mercosur to be strengthened, and …we’d like to make Venezuela a strategic point between Russia and Latin America and the Caribbean,” Maduro also said.

According to Putin, Russian companies are currently investing US$20 billion in Venezuela.

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The economic war by the opposition private sector against Venezuela continues apace. It actually began years ago as one of the prongs of Washington’s pitchfork for the overthrow of the constitutionally and democratically elected socialist government here. The most well known attack on the economy was the managers’ walkout and industrial sabotage of PDVSA the nationalized oil industry that nearly destoyed the economy but failed due to the brilliant response by the workers and the government. Since then, Washington and it’s opposition front in Venezuela have developed new strategies and tactics to wage war on the government with what Hillary Clinton called, “soft power.”

The counter-revolution and its fronts

There was the speculation by the stock exchange houses in Caracas, resulting in capital flight; the corrupting of the private bank officials resulting in the theft of millions of depositors’ funds; infiltration of government bureaucracies by the fifth column to render services ineffective; the circulation of illegal drugs into Venezuelan youth, particularly in locales of the Chavista electorate; Colombian paramilitary groups crossing the border illegally to spawn violence and in some cases, executing labor leaders; the organizing and funding of the opposition by the US State Department for elections and violent street actions; the August 2012 attack on Venezuela’s biggest oil refinery at Amuay; the sabotage of the national electrical system causing blackouts throughout the country; the opposition’s denial of agriculture on vast stretches of their privately-held fertile lands; artificially-produced inflation by means of the parallel dollar market and attacks on the production and distribution of food and household items with their control of food processing and distribution and their hoarding and dumping of massive quantities of food to create shortages in the market. Of course each of these attacks against the revolution have been made-to-order for consumption by the US/European capitalist media to convince the public that the Venezuelan government is failing and more broadly that “socialism doesn’t work.”

The government fights back

It hasn’t been easy but throughout the 14 years of Chavez’ presidency the government has patiently and systematically responded to each new front opened by the opposition. Since the October 12, 2012 election won convincingly by President Chavez, the opposition has stepped up their attacks in a number of these areas and increasingly the new Maduro-led government has become more aggressive in defeating them.

Shortly after appointing his cabinet following his April 14 election victory, he fired bureaucrats who have served as impediments to the revolution. Some of them simply didn’t do their jobs, denying prompt and effective public services and others directly undermined the mission and work of the revolutionary government. Maduro’s purging of officials in Indepabis, Venezuela’s consumer protection agency serves as one example and his replacement of directors in the national electric system is another. His appointment of Jesse Chacon as Minister of Electricity and their subsequent militarization of the nation’s electrical depots has greatly reduced the number and length of the blackout-sabotage across the country. As the government has gained more control of the electrical system, we have seen the opposition shift their focus to sabotage of food distribution.

Sabotage of food processing and distribution

The sabotage of food processing and distribution has been going on for years. In the runup to the 2007 referendum for constitutional reform (which the government lost), Erik Demeester wrote:

“Economic sabotage is an underexposed and underreported tool of the counterrevolution in Venezuela. It is part and parcel of a general plan of destabilisation of the revolution in the run-up to the referendum. The limits of reformism in combating food scarcity stress the need for bold measures, like nationalisation of the food industry and the mobilisation of the masses. No time can be lost!”

In the last two weeks of January, 2008, more than 13,000 tons of food were seized by the government as part of Chavez’ Food Sovereignty Plan launched in order to fight speculation, hoarding and sabotage in the food distribution chain. Jorge Martin wrote at the time, “The main lesson is that food soverignty is not compatible with capitalism.” When he announced government measures to gain control of the food distribution system on January 22, President Chávez explained,

“among the responsibilities of the government, one of them is to attack the capitalist model, the monopolies and rackets, so that the people, the workers, together with the revolutionary government can take the country forward”.

40,000 tons of hoarded food seized since January

Since last November, the opposition has stepped up two main fronts: manipulating the parallel dollar-bolivar exchange rate market causing the devaluation of the local currency, the bolivar and the hoarding and price speculation on basic food products typical of the average Venezuelan family’s diet. Regarding the foods kept off the market, it’s worth mentioning that most of it is under price controls which offers lower profits to the opposition food industries.

There have been times when for weeks it has been impossible to find corn meal for making traditional arepas or powdered milk or recently even toothpaste and toilet paper – in some areas – of the country. It seems the US and some European media has placed an extra emphasis on the shortage of toilet paper in a few locations of the country, perceiving the propaganda value for readers’ imaginations – “OMG An entire country without toilet paper!!” We Venezuelans can only smile at this level of ignorance but we can sympathize given the blanket negative brainwashing to which the average news reader is subjected in the United States and Europe.

But now that the government and the security forces are working in tandem with the local population and the Communal Councils for intelligence purposes, large amounts of foodstuffs have been found hoarded all over the country. Since January at least 40,000 tons of food has been found hidden in various locations.

This sort of action is both political and economic – political in the sense that the population will blame the government for these artificially engineered shortages prejudicing its popularity; economic in the sense that it puts pressure on the government to raise the prices of basic foods thus sparking inflation.

continued here.

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