Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Venezuelans are getting both and neither, simultaneously.
President Hugo Chavez's government is trying to cope with shortages of some foods, and the lines at state-run "Megamercal" street markets show many Venezuelans are willing to wait for hours to snap up a handful of products they seldom find in supermarkets.Perhaps ol Hugo could look at what good price controls have done for Zimbabwe.
"You have to get in line and you have to be lucky," said Maria Fernandez, a 64-year-old housewife who was trying to buy milk and chicken on Sunday.
The lines for basic foods at subsidized prices are paradoxical for an oil-rich nation that in many ways is a land of plenty. Shopping malls are bustling, new car sales are booming and privately owned supermarkets are stocked with American potato chips, French wines and Swiss Gruyere cheese.
Yet other foods covered by price controls � eggs, chicken � periodically are hard to find in supermarkets. Fresh milk has become a luxury, and even baby formula is scarcer nowadays.
The shortages are prompting some Venezuelans to question Chavez's economic policies while he campaigns for constitutional changes that, if approved in a Dec. 2 referendum, would let him run for re-election indefinitely.
The government says it now has to import leg of pork "because local suppliers declined to participate." This is, they say, political. So too is starvation.
(h/t: Angus at KPC)