Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Impudence of Downgrading Venezuela's Foreign Reserve Accounts

"Do you think they're [capitalists and foreigners; enemies of the Venezuelan republic] going to stop us with a financial blockade?"
"No, gentlemen. No one stops Venezuela."
"All the ministries, all the ministers, all the state institutions are at the service and in absolute subordination [to supplying the population with a new, steady food supply, through requisitioning and reapportioning]."
Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro
A woman runs from police officers during clashes with protesters trying to reach the headquarters of the country’s electoral body to demand a referendum to recall the president. (Alejandro Cegarra for The Washington Post)
Venezuela, with its massive reserves of fossil fuels, has become, under the 17-year socialist Bolivarian revolution, a basket case of dysfunction. Where initially promises by Hugo Chavez, the hero of the revolution and socialist compatriot of Cuba's Fidel Castro, were to lift the country's indigent population out of poverty and into middle-class comfort, even extending into lavishing aid and oil riches to neighbouring countries in generous fits of good nature, while failing to invest in its own infrastructure and notably updating oil refinery capabilities, the cornucopia has crashed.

Now, in a country where basic food must be imported to ensure that Venezuelans can access the most fundamental elements of products enabling civil life for a population, and sufficient food to stave off hunger, but cannot muster sufficient financial resources to pay for those exports from abroad, the military has been dispatched to control the country's ports. Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino is now in charge of food deliveries and food delivery trucks are guarded by armed troops.

Neighbourhoods are rent asunder by ongoing food riots and looting of stores and supermarkets. Even trucks delivering food have not been immune from being stopped and looted by desperate citizens. The "Great Sovereign and Secure Supply Mission" under which the army has been dispatched to protect the country from itself allows Minister Padrino the status of a dictator whose purpose has become the transportation and distribution of basic food supplies and the control of pricing, along with the use of coercive intimidation to stimulate domestic production.

Venezuela has fallen into its own delusional trap, where the fallacy that a socialist doctrine of equality providing plenty for all in equal measure; taking from the wealthy to distribute to the poor, has proven a disastrous undertaking, a collapse of reason to the surrender of ideological faith. One that failed Russia catastrophically through collectivization, and more latterly Zimbabwe which overturned its rich agricultural heritage into a nation begging for relief and rather than the exporting what it was once famed for, a mass importer of food.

Like Zimbabwe, Venezuela is staggering under economic collapse, with sky-high inflation and scarce market supplies. After ordering the border with Colombia to be closed to stop endemic food smuggling, Venezuela's president was forced to re-open it again briefly, resulting in tens of thousands of Venezuelans dashing across into Columbia in search of rice, oil, flour, sugar and medications. And the country's black market continues to thrive for those who still have the means to pay.

A man waits outside a government supermarket to buy food. (Alejandro Cegarra for The Washington Post)

None of which has put an end to the soaring, violent crime rate, the attacks, the looting and food riots taking place throughout this country teetering on the edge of total collapse. But it still has its vast oil resources which the foreign-based global energy industry remains interested in exploiting but which continues to stand back in view of the country's corruption, along with its unreliable power supplies and the flawed need to deal with the government of President Maduro.

The result is the floundering economy, the plight of the people, and the situation of a nation sitting on a golden egg, unable to use it to further its best interests because its national leaders have contaminated and compromised its major industry, leading to a lack of international investment, and a staggering commitment to the status quo.

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