Peak Oil is You

Donate Bitcoins ;-) or Paypal :-)

Page added on March 3, 2018

Bookmark and Share

Venezuelan crisis: All the oil, but no food

Venezuelan crisis: All the oil, but no food thumbnail

Alejandro Manuel Mago Coraspe is an inmate at the Vista Hermosa prison in Bolivar, a city in northern Venezuela. The 41-year-old is serving a nine-month sentence for vehicle theft. He was hospitalised recently for complications from food poisoning. Coraspe was so hungry that he ate dead rats found in the prison’s garbage dump, and the bones and cartilages of the rats obstructed his intestine. After he collapsed in his cell, he was taken to a hospital and it is a miracle that he survived. Welcome to the new Venezuela, where staying alive is a luxury today.

It is very difficult to associate Venezuela with poverty, which was once a poster child of prosperity in Latin America. The country is blessed with the world’s largest proven oil reserves. At 297.6 billion barrels, it is ahead of even Saudi Arabia, which has reserves of 268 billion barrels. Oil revenues account for 95 per cent of Venezuela’s export earnings and a quarter of its GDP. Till 2014, when global oil prices were above $100 a barrel, the Venezuela appeared to be doing alright. The fall in oil prices, however, changed everything.

Political instability also added to the crisis. Under Hugo Chavez, the charismatic president who died in 2013, Venezuela had remained a relatively stable and prosperous country. While Chavez was accused of dictatorship and crony capitalism under a facade of socialism, he managed to lift millions out of poverty. He was also a powerful figure in the international arena. His economic model, however, worked when oil prices were high. But his systematic undermining of infrastructure, especially in the petroleum sector, is now hurting the country.

Chavez completely overhauled the manner in which Venezuela’s state-owned petroleum company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) had been working. He ended its independence, made it report directly to the president, removed the oversight by the central bank, abolished provisions by which a percentage of the profits had to be deposited with the central bank, politicised personnel appointments, dismissed technocrats who were not aligned with his political ideology and literally took over the behemoth’s day-to-day running. Profits earned by the company were used to finance his pet projects, pay off his supporters and subsidise friendly foreign regimes like Cuba. It hurt production drastically. With oil prices hitting a peak of $147, PDVSA still managed to show some profits, despite Chavez’s experiments. In fact, between 1999 and 2017, the company earned more than a trillion dollars, but there are no records about where it all went. And, as oil prices started to fall, the economy just crumbled.

After Chavez died of cancer in 2013, his protege Nicolas Maduro took over as president. Maduro, a disciple of the late Sai Baba, however, turned out to be a poor administrator and inefficient economic manager. Under him, Venezuela has been suffering a massive economic decline, even steeper than the Great Depression of 1929 that ravaged the western economies, especially the United States. As many as 87 per cent of Venezuelans are now classified as poor, up from 48 per cent in 2014. In the same period, the country has lost one-third of its GDP. The minimum wage in Venezuela is not sufficient to meet even 10 per cent of the basic food needs of a single person.

The International Monetary Fund has warned that inflation rates could hit 2,300 per cent by next year. Nine out of ten households in the country do not have food to survive. The mortality rate of children under four weeks has increased by 100 times between 2012 and 2015, while maternal mortality rate has gone up 30 per cent. In the case of infants, acute malnutrition is the leading cause of death. Communicable diseases like malaria, dengue and chikungunya have become alarmingly common.

A Venezuelan indigenous refugee child cries at a shelter in the city of Boa Vista, Roraima, Brazil | AFP A Venezuelan indigenous refugee child cries at a shelter in the city of Boa Vista, Roraima, Brazil | AFP

Venezuela’s capital Caracas, today, is considered to be the most dangerous city in the world. Mothers are forced to steal and rob food and medicines for their children. Some of them are quietly leaving their children in orphanages. Hospitals do not have medicines. Grocery stores are empty. If there are provisions left, desperate gangs of hungry men and women would rob them immediately. Young children, some of them not even 10, leave home to join street gangs and fight for food or even for the privilege to pick through waste bins and dumpsters.

Maduro, however, is in no mood to listen. He says the present crisis is an imperialist conspiracy orchestrated by western nations led by the United States. Political opposition in the country is in disarray. The Venezuelan National Assembly, which was elected in a free and fair election, was disbanded by the Supreme Court controlled by Maduro, as a majority of its members were opposed to him. There was widespread opposition to this move. Last year, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans were out on the streets protesting against Maduro’s policies. But the protests were ruthlessly put down by the Bolivarian National Guard, which functions almost like Maduro’s private army. About 120 people lost their lives in the protests. In the place of the National Assembly, Maduro has set up a Constituent Assembly, with members personally chosen by him.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro shows his presidential registration application to members of the press at the headquarters of the National Electoral Council (CNE) in Caracas | AFP Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro shows his presidential registration application to members of the press at the headquarters of the National Electoral Council (CNE) in Caracas | AFP

Maduro has now announced snap presidential elections to be held on April 22. The opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable, had decided to boycott the polls. However, because of the lack of unity within the opposition ranks, one of its leaders, Henri Falcon, a former provincial governor has announced his decision to challenge Maduro. The opposition alliance has since expelled Falcon.

Venezuela, meanwhile, is facing a major refugee crisis as people are fleeing the country in droves. Between January and June last year, as many as 52,000 Venezuelans applied for asylum abroad—15,000 in the United States alone. More than 40 lakh Venezuelans—which is more than 10 per cent of the country’s population—are now refugees.

Danny Bahar, an economist with the Brookings Institution, has predicted that the Venezuelan refugee crisis could eclipse Syria and Rohingya. In the past few months alone, more than 6,00,000 Venezuelans have fled to neighbouring Colombia, 30,000 to Brazil, 40,000 to Trinidad, and 20,000 to Aruba.

There is no end in sight to the crisis. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last month that Maduro could be deposed by a military coup. “In the history of Venezuela and South American countries, it is oftentimes that the military is the agent of change when things are so bad and the leadership can no longer serve the people,” said Tillerson. Yet, the military is divided. Several senior officers are loyal to Maduro and there is a powerful espionage network manned by Cuban agents which deter officers who might be thinking of a plan to overthrow the president.

Nearly 40 per cent of the Venezuelans are now dependent on government handouts for food. They are given imported boxes, which usually contain some pasta, rice, powdered milk and canned tuna, which are delivered once in three weeks. The boxes are given only to those who possess food cards issued by the government. In a country where people are forced to choose between food and medicines, such coercive tactics go a long way in ensuring the longevity of the regime. And, sitting atop the world’s largest oil reserves, a once proud nation continues to suffer.

the week

33 Comments on "Venezuelan crisis: All the oil, but no food"

  1. Shortend on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 8:05 am 

    Globalization…. Got to love it. Venezuela coming soon to your nation….learn to eat grass and tree bark.

  2. Sissyfuss on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 9:06 am 

    Gee, Maduro certainly looks well fed in that photo.

  3. Duncan Idaho on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 9:23 am 

    Wasn’t Venezuela supposed to crash about two years ago?
    I would not hold my breath —–

  4. David Shortbread on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 9:39 am 

    Peak stupidity of socialism. Sucker born every minute, Maduro.

  5. dave thompson on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 10:26 am 

    More peak stupidity of people following the MSM. This country like many others around the world is another fine example of what happens when you go against the multinational corporate interests and bankers. The CIA has been undermining places like this for years. The list of countries is sad and long.

  6. GregT on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 10:45 am 

    “Ten years from now, twenty years from now, you will see, oil will bring us ruin… It is the devil’s excrement.”

    -Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo, Venezuelan diplomat, politician and lawyer, primarily responsible for the inception and creation of OPEC.

  7. GregT on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 10:46 am 

    “This country like many others around the world is another fine example of what happens when you go against the multinational corporate interests and bankers. The CIA has been undermining places like this for years. The list of countries is sad and long.”


  8. bobinget on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 11:26 am 

    I repeat;
    China set to suck up every exportable barrel.

    I know, I know, long time readers here expect me to comment on ‘the Venezuelan situation’
    Because expected shortages, worse then first expected, preclude “I told ya so” BS from here.

    US governments missed catching the brass ring
    in Venezuela by permitting China and Russia a size 14 foothold in Venezuela. It may sound comical to refer to Iraq’s oil as rightfully ‘ours’.
    Not funny at all if crude oil sits in one of the three
    “Americas”. Threatening military intervention countless times instead of offering loans if
    widespread corruption were brought in line.
    After all, we trade with Communist China, why not
    neighbor Venezuela?

    It’s too late now, Russians have all but taken-over
    crude oil extraction. The government is ENTIRELY beholding to Chinese funding.

    Venezuela is but one example of Chinese
    colonization. The exact same pattern is seen across developing nations in Asia, Africa, Central, South America.

  9. Cloggie on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 11:36 am 

    Gee, Maduro certainly looks well fed in that photo.

    Sefardics are seldom known to be hungry, plenty of cash.

    We know, we have them too: “Maduro-dam”

  10. Davy on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 11:47 am 

    Bob, you realize this is costing your favorite friends money or does that not register to you? Anyone in Venezuela is losing money on the terms of their original deal and those terms are going to only deteriorate. Bob, that does not matter to you because I imagine you never run a business and dealt with a company going belly up. Your agenda overlooks these realities.

  11. GregT on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 1:25 pm 

    “Bob, you realize this is costing your favorite friends money or does that not register to you?”

    Bob is an American Davy, and by the sounds of it, he isn’t overly happy about the idiocy in Washington DC. There are far better ways to make deals, then at the end of a gun barrel. People in general don’t respond well to bullying.

    And Davy, it isn’t Bob’s agenda. It’s your government’s agenda, and it’s backfiring all over the world, in case you haven’t been paying attention.

  12. Davy on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 1:59 pm 

    Shut up greggie, you are not part of the conversation. You are just pricking because your feeling got hurt the other day. Try to stay on topic and mind your own business.

  13. GregT on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 2:10 pm 

    The fact that you are asking me to shut up speaks volumes to your emotional insecurities Davy. My above comment is very much a part of the conversation, is on topic, is my business as much as it is yours, or anybody else’s for that matter, and is the reality of the situation.

    Getting all upset about it, is not going to make that reality go away.

  14. Davy on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 2:32 pm 

    Greggie, you are just bored and want to attack an American. Maybe you and the wife are not getting along. You are off topic and talking out of turn. IOW a loud mouth prick. Let bob and I talk. You were not part of the conversation.

  15. GregT on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 2:51 pm 

    This is an open, unmoderated, internet discussion forum Davy. Anybody who so chooses can be a part of the conversation, whenever they like. You have absolutely zero say in the matter.

    Bob is an American Davy. I don’t like what your government is doing, any more than he does.

  16. Davy on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 3:00 pm 

    greggie, bob is an American and he is old and not quite right. You are a Canadian and hate Americans except for Americans that hate America. You enable and support these people regardless of their positions. Look at you now embracing nazism. You need to get back into therapy. Better yet, find another forum. We don’t need you packing the forum with your pricking obsession.

  17. GregT on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 3:07 pm 

    More of your usual delusional accusations Davy. You are one seriously messed up dude.

  18. Davy on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 3:13 pm 

    Usually when I am right you resort to your same liners. Why are you in therapy greggie? I think I know. It is pretty obvious.

  19. GregT on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 3:17 pm 

    Step up to the plate Davy. Provide your evidence that disproves my statement that your government’s agenda is backfiring around the globe.

  20. bobinget on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 3:17 pm 

    This back biting has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

  21. Davy on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 3:54 pm 

    You tell him bob, greggie is just in this for a fight. He is sick and likely the reason he is in therepy.

  22. Anonymouse1 on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 4:10 pm 

    Exceptionalist, endlessly attempting to project your own failings onto others is not the way the deal with your extensive list of mental and emotional problems. Wailing and screaming here like a nutter non-stop is not helping your case any. It is clear you take the idea of defending amerikan corruption, its genocides, theft, militarism, interventionism and so on, just a little too seriously. Time to put down the amerikan\israeli flags, your jug of moonshine, and get the help you know you need. This place will still be here when(if) you get released.

  23. Davy on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 4:33 pm 

    Oh, weasel come on, pricking is easy. Any swing prick can do it. Man up and say something why don’t you. You are such a pussy just like your cousin. Do you guys have such a boring life all you have for excitement is to stalk and prick?

  24. GregT on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 4:44 pm 

    He did say something Davy.

    The fact that you remain completely oblivious to what he said, only serves to reinforce what he said.

  25. Davy on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 5:36 pm 

    Greggie, it takes 5 of you pussies to go after me. Maybe you need help with your manhood. Do you wear your wife’s panties when she goes to work and you are home alone? Naughty boy!

  26. GregT on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 5:44 pm 

    There are more than 5 individuals on this forum who are fully aware of how messed up you are Davy.

    You aren’t doing yourself any favours at all, by continuing to attack everyone.

  27. Davy on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 5:54 pm 

    Greggie, see what you start. You like starting prickathons. You like to organize your hate rallies and thereby screwing up a whole day of legitimate comments. You are a disgusting person. Too bad you haven’t fallen off this forum like some other jerks that are gone now. You epitomize slime.

  28. GregT on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 7:28 pm 

    Just because one of your fellow Americans, Bob, does not agree with everything that you say, does not mean that “he is old and not quite right”. It also does not make him an “anti-American American”. I am sure that there are at least tens of millions of Americans who share his points of view.

    People are entitled to their own opinions Davy, regardless of what you think. Enough with the name calling, childish rhetoric, and delusional accusations.

    Grow up already.

  29. MASTERMIND on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 7:36 pm 


    When society collapses here soon your little girl is going to get beat, raped, and gang raped by hobos.

  30. Davy on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 7:42 pm 

    Shut up greggie and let people talk real issues. We don’t want to read your whining and moaning. You are just a brat parading as intelligent and respectable. You started this shit today slimy be a man and end it. What a selfish ass.

  31. GregT on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 7:58 pm 

    “Shut up greggie and let people talk real issues.”

    The points that Bob brought up above, that you attacked him over, are real issues Davy. The longer that your government continues to go around the world attacking other countries, both militarily, and financially, the worse off the US is going to be. If you had any semblance of intelligence, you would be speaking out against those who are destroying your country from within, rather than those who are speaking out against them.

  32. MASTERMIND on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 8:27 pm 

    Davy and Greg

    Will you guys please knock it off.

  33. fmr-paultard on Sat, 3rd Mar 2018 9:32 pm 

    ^mm^ i told you go bumpski SENTAPBs if you want. Hear me out, I’m a former paultard so I know and I tell you SENTAPBs media is dead.
    So if you bumpski them, it will be on the news for 2 days and something else happens like the storm that swept across the continent the last few days.

    You don’t understand anything. maybe you as a chemist should listen to a former paultard who was a physics major and we can send you to the unemployment line just programming the schoedinger equation?

    don’t fear SENTAPBs because the world has moved on to a government system that is an economic scam. It is not possible to explain in term of economics if the system is centered around identity.

    Also since you don’t know anything, i’ll tell you another secrets. and that’s generally supertards aren’t much into ethnic identity. The are the freaks and geeks remember and that’s why they hit the books hard and became supertards.

    The eurotard is confused, let him be. He doesn’t know anything about supertards. And you don’t know supertards either that’s why you fear the eurotard.

    Generally speaking supertards don’t care about highschool cliques and gossips.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *