The Costly Lesson Venezuela’s Citizens Are Learning About Their Demagogue

Lynne Kiesling

Four years of Chávez’s price controls have led to serious food shortages.

Such shortages have sporadically appeared with items from milk to coffee since early 2003, when Chávez began regulating prices for 400 basic products as a way to counter inflation and protect the poor.

Yet inflation has soared to an accumulated 78 percent in the last four years in an economy awash in petrodollars, and food prices have increased particularly swiftly, creating a widening discrepancy between official prices and the true cost of getting goods to market in Venezuela.

”Shortages have increased significantly as well as violations of price controls,” Central Bank director Domingo Maza Zavala told Unión Radio on Thursday. “The difference between real market prices and controlled prices is very high.”

Authorities on Wednesday raided a warehouse in Caracas and seized seven tons of sugar hoarded by vendors unwilling to market the inventory at the official price.

Major private supermarkets suspended sales of beef earlier this week after one chain was shut down for 48 hours for pricing meat above government-set levels, but an agreement reached with the government on Wednesday night promises to return meat to empty refrigerator shelves.

I find this exercise of government hubris and arrogance so sickening that it literally nauseates me. Think of the harm that he’s doing to the very people who he manages to demagogue into voting for him. The cumulative effects of this type of policy and his destruction of capital assets in Venezuela’s oil industry make me feel very, very sorry for the Venezuelan people.

Thanks to Phil Miller for the link.


58 thoughts on “The Costly Lesson Venezuela’s Citizens Are Learning About Their Demagogue

  1. Well, those voters of him don’t deserve any better. It was their willing choice.. To all other poor souls, there is just one message: get out of there if you can…

  2. I don’t believe that the voters actually elected him to office. Analysis of the 2004 voting returns showed clear evidence of fraud with the electonic voting machines. The clearest is that in virtually all precincts, Chavez won by 528 votes – no matter what the overall vote total in that precinct was. Exit polling showe him losing 59% to 41% – but in the official results, he won 58% to 42%.

    Besides, Jimmy Carter certified that it was a fair and accurate vote. When was the last time he got anything right?

  3. You feel sorry for them? Excuse me, but didn’t the populace vote for Chavez and then pave the way for him to assume unbridled power? Let them eat cake.

  4. You feel sorry for them? Excuse me, but didn’t the populace vote for Chavez and then pave the way for him to assume unbridled power? Let them eat cake.

  5. Don’t worry. It’s all the U.S.’s fault. Senor Chavez will be glad to explain how that’s so. And if the voters believe him, then the shortages they’ll face next year will be our fault, too.

  6. Don’t worry. It’s all the U.S.’s fault. Senor Chavez will be glad to explain how that’s so. And if the voters believe him, then the shortages they’ll face next year will be our fault, too.

  7. Hey, just as soon as Chavez implements the next logical step in the usual Marxist plan (killing about 1/10 to 1/3 of the population for being anti-revolutionary or something) there’ll be enough to go around.

  8. Yes, it is true that majority voted for him and that justice is an unstopable force in the affairs of men, but a lot of people didn’t vote for him. They are going to get screwed.

    Also to take advantage of the ignorance of the poor by telling them they can have something for nothing is exploitave and immoral.

  9. The typical downward sprial will include explanations that they aren’t being “socialist enough”.

  10. The typical downward sprial will include explanations that they aren’t being “socialist enough”.

  11. The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce…

    I was living in Brazil during the “Cruzado Plan” in 1986. Sure, it was nice to have frozen prices for a while. Until, that is, the meat disappeared from the shelves, then the beer, then the paper products, then just about every other damned thing. Of course, things were available for those who paid an “agio,” or premium.

    It was a disaster, especially when the government finally admitted it wasn’t working (it continued to print money like there was no tomorrow, after all) and the residual inflation was allowed to run free…900%+ in the year following the removal of the Plan.

    I hope Hugo gets this and more for his neo-commie meddlings.

  12. We’re taking on so many wealthy Venezuelan refugees that, if Venezuela ever gets back to some semblance of normalcy, the real estate market here in greater Miami may collapse.

  13. We’re taking on so many wealthy Venezuelan refugees that, if Venezuela ever gets back to some semblance of normalcy, the real estate market here in greater Miami may collapse.

  14. Democracy is a learning process. Before you condemn Venezuelans, remember we elected Jimmy Carter.

    Also, Chavez probably actually lost the election before last. Auditors found strong evidence of massive fraud.

    Unfortunately, it looks like Chavez is set to become a dictator in all but name. He’s been given extraordinary powers, and is seeking a 25-year moratorium on elections.

  15. Democracy is a learning process. Before you condemn Venezuelans, remember we elected Jimmy Carter.

    Also, Chavez probably actually lost the election before last. Auditors found strong evidence of massive fraud.

    Unfortunately, it looks like Chavez is set to become a dictator in all but name. He’s been given extraordinary powers, and is seeking a 25-year moratorium on elections.

  16. Democracy is a learning process. Before you condemn Venezuelans, remember we elected Jimmy Carter.

    Also, Chavez probably actually lost the election before last. Auditors found strong evidence of massive fraud.

    Unfortunately, it looks like Chavez is set to become a dictator in all but name. He’s been given extraordinary powers, and is seeking a 25-year moratorium on elections.

  17. “Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.” – Josef Stalin

  18. No doubt they and the rest of the Left will of course blame the selfish merchants. so it’s not his fault or his system, it’s the greedy people who want to “get rich”. Making a living and feeding their own kids is not something merchants are entitled to in the socialist paradise.

  19. No doubt they and the rest of the Left will of course blame the selfish merchants. so it’s not his fault or his system, it’s the greedy people who want to “get rich”. Making a living and feeding their own kids is not something merchants are entitled to in the socialist paradise.

  20. No doubt they and the rest of the Left will of course blame the selfish merchants. so it’s not his fault or his system, it’s the greedy people who want to “get rich”. Making a living and feeding their own kids is not something merchants are entitled to in the socialist paradise.

  21. Soon, Chavez’s jails will be as full as Castro’s. Any system based on hate and envy is sure to inflict pain and agony on more and more people. catholicfundamentalism.com deals with this every day, and the faith they are destroying will be able to help less and less.

  22. Soon, Chavez’s jails will be as full as Castro’s. Any system based on hate and envy is sure to inflict pain and agony on more and more people. catholicfundamentalism.com deals with this every day, and the faith they are destroying will be able to help less and less.

  23. I recently returned from Ukraine. The PM tried price controls a while back on chicken. Suppliers refused to comply.

    Chicken all but disappeared from the shelves. Chicken wrapped with a packet of mayonaise, a way to get around the price on simple chicken, showed up at an inflated price. I, a chicken eater, was forced to pay more for chicken with a packet of mayonaise I threw away, because the government was trying to save me money.

    The government dropped the idiotic price controls.

  24. Sad thing is, they’re not even close to learning the lessons, they’re still blaming “speculators” and “hoarders”.

  25. Sad thing is, they’re not even close to learning the lessons, they’re still blaming “speculators” and “hoarders”.

  26. Sad thing is, they’re not even close to learning the lessons, they’re still blaming “speculators” and “hoarders”.

  27. Spot on. It is amazing how the ignorant refuse to learn from history. Socialism doesn’t work and never will. It kills the free human spirit. The poor are poor for a reason. Hate to say it. This comes from a guy raised on food stamps and welfare. So I don’t care what people think. The poor are ignorant and for voting for him they get what they deserve…my poverty. Harsh but the truth.

  28. Another sterling example of how much better off you are w/o the “drag” of capitalism? When will people ever learn?

  29. Another sterling example of how much better off you are w/o the “drag” of capitalism? When will people ever learn?

  30. If the poor and middle class of Venezuela find themselves getting pinched by this socialist monster, perhaps they can call their good friend in America, Joeseph Kennedy, at 1-800-JOE4OIL. Certainly Joe can use some of the Kennedy Dynasty assests for providing food to the poor people of Venezuela at 40% off.

  31. If the poor and middle class of Venezuela find themselves getting pinched by this socialist monster, perhaps they can call their good friend in America, Joeseph Kennedy, at 1-800-JOE4OIL. Certainly Joe can use some of the Kennedy Dynasty assests for providing food to the poor people of Venezuela at 40% off.

  32. If the poor and middle class of Venezuela find themselves getting pinched by this socialist monster, perhaps they can call their good friend in America, Joeseph Kennedy, at 1-800-JOE4OIL. Certainly Joe can use some of the Kennedy Dynasty assests for providing food to the poor people of Venezuela at 40% off.

  33. The one flaw in your logic is that you are forgetting that Venezuelans were not forced into voting for him – and there has been no proof of fraud – Chavez has truly maintained wide support amongst the population. So the majority of the population are also responsible for the fate of all Venezuelans. I only feel sorry for the minority of the population that voted against him.

    Just because something is a bad idea does not mean it is not supported by the majority. The revolutions on Cuba and Russia were also widely supported by the populace. It is not always a single individual that is responsible.

    It is in situations like these where the constitution should be taking precedence over the whims of a single elected government – but Chavez has managed to tear the constitution into pieces. This is the primary difference between the US and the weaker democracies of latin america. Through civil war, jim crow laws and the great depression, the constitution has remained in place (although not always properly respected). In latin america, elect one populist leader or have one government overthrown and all precedent is thrown out the window along with any existing individual rights and freedoms.

  34. Five years of economic warfare by Washington to soften it up for military intervention if they don’t cough up the oil is to blame, not Chavez.

  35. Five years of economic warfare by Washington to soften it up for military intervention if they don’t cough up the oil is to blame, not Chavez.

  36. Price controls lead to shortages and black markets with higher prices. It is an unavoidable natural law. Why is it so hard for leftist tyrants to understand this?

  37. Price controls lead to shortages and black markets with higher prices. It is an unavoidable natural law. Why is it so hard for leftist tyrants to understand this?

  38. Price controls lead to shortages and black markets with higher prices. It is an unavoidable natural law. Why is it so hard for leftist tyrants to understand this?

  39. It looks to me like the classic problem of democracies: How to avoid having the people vote themselves bread and circuses, so long as someone else seems to pay?

  40. Found it, yes it was the American Thinker @ http://www.americanthinker.com/2004/09/was_the_election_in_venezuela.html

    here’s the money paragraph—
    Another oddity that was revealed in the days following the election was the remarkable similarity in the vote count for one side or the other on individual voting machines. On over 400 voting machines, the anti—Chavez vote was identical —— down to the single vote. The most prominent defender of Chavez’s election win, Jimmy Carter, responded in an op—ed that this meant nothing, since on over 300 polling machines, the vote to retain Chavez was also identical. One thing that Carter did not mention, however, was whether the vote for Chavez on the 300 machines, was higher than the vote recorded against Chavez in the other 400. Clearly, if the fix was in, one could record a maximum result for the anti—Chavez side on some polling machines (regardless of how many people voted against Chavez, in all likelihood a larger number) and also record a vote total for Chavez on other machines that was much higher than the actual vote total for Chavez.—

    It wasn’t a fair election. 18 percent exit poll against Chavez. The reason you thought it was fair is because our liberal journalists covered the story. It’s a good read, and a sad commentary on our news taking this story into account with the previous one.

  41. Found it, yes it was the American Thinker @ http://www.americanthinker.com/2004/09/was_the_election_in_venezuela.html

    here’s the money paragraph—
    Another oddity that was revealed in the days following the election was the remarkable similarity in the vote count for one side or the other on individual voting machines. On over 400 voting machines, the anti—Chavez vote was identical —— down to the single vote. The most prominent defender of Chavez’s election win, Jimmy Carter, responded in an op—ed that this meant nothing, since on over 300 polling machines, the vote to retain Chavez was also identical. One thing that Carter did not mention, however, was whether the vote for Chavez on the 300 machines, was higher than the vote recorded against Chavez in the other 400. Clearly, if the fix was in, one could record a maximum result for the anti—Chavez side on some polling machines (regardless of how many people voted against Chavez, in all likelihood a larger number) and also record a vote total for Chavez on other machines that was much higher than the actual vote total for Chavez.—

    It wasn’t a fair election. 18 percent exit poll against Chavez. The reason you thought it was fair is because our liberal journalists covered the story. It’s a good read, and a sad commentary on our news taking this story into account with the previous one.

  42. I have to agree with the first poster. This guy was voted in, after he made clear what his decisions would be. To anyone with the ability to read, it was obvious that he was following the Castro model. I figure the people must be dancing in the street, it’s working as laid out.

  43. I have to agree with the first poster. This guy was voted in, after he made clear what his decisions would be. To anyone with the ability to read, it was obvious that he was following the Castro model. I figure the people must be dancing in the street, it’s working as laid out.

  44. Unfortunately the voters of his country are as ill-prepared to understand the economic situation as are many of our own “government school” educated people.

    Without a grasp of the economics of control versus the economics of free enterprise, there is no comprehension of the problem which Chavez has created. It will take another ten-fifteen years for the facts to sink in, and by then he will be a dictator pure and simple, and the Venezualen economy will be MUCH worse.

  45. Ha ha!

    I can think of nothing more just occuring than exactly what is happening. They are getting exactly what they deserve.

  46. Ha ha!

    I can think of nothing more just occuring than exactly what is happening. They are getting exactly what they deserve.

  47. Instead of telling them to get out (where are they to go) how about if they get rid of El Jefe and his consiglieri? El Jefe is a Castro-wannabee, so a glance at what El Lider Maximo has done to Havana and the rest of Cuba should give them all the motivation they need.

    H. L. Mencken said that the theory of democracy was that the voters know what they want and deserve to get it, good and hard.

  48. Instead of telling them to get out (where are they to go) how about if they get rid of El Jefe and his consiglieri? El Jefe is a Castro-wannabee, so a glance at what El Lider Maximo has done to Havana and the rest of Cuba should give them all the motivation they need.

    H. L. Mencken said that the theory of democracy was that the voters know what they want and deserve to get it, good and hard.

  49. Even worse, he is cheered on by economic illiterate dullards in the west -the loony left.

  50. Even worse, he is cheered on by economic illiterate dullards in the west -the loony left.

  51. This all sounds like Mugabe light, but heavy enough to destroy the wealth of the country. It just goes to show that the rigorous application of Marxist economic ideas with a good dash of corruption thrown in will put an economy in reverse in no time at all. Well done, Hugo!

  52. This all sounds like Mugabe light, but heavy enough to destroy the wealth of the country. It just goes to show that the rigorous application of Marxist economic ideas with a good dash of corruption thrown in will put an economy in reverse in no time at all. Well done, Hugo!

  53. This all sounds like Mugabe light, but heavy enough to destroy the wealth of the country. It just goes to show that the rigorous application of Marxist economic ideas with a good dash of corruption thrown in will put an economy in reverse in no time at all. Well done, Hugo!

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