Originally published August 31 2015
Violence and looting grip Venezuela as socialist country struggles to feed citizens
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) As economic conditions continue to deteriorate in Venezuela thanks to socialist government policies that have wreaked havoc on businesses, industry and imports, the decay of civil society is also progressing as rioting, looting, and other disruptive actions are becoming the norm.
Reuters reports that supermarkets throughout the country are increasingly being targeted by looters as long lines and chronic shortages of basic goods boost anger and frustration in the oil-rich nation.
"Shoppers routinely spend hours in lines to buy consumer staples ranging from corn flour to laundry soap, turning lines into venues for shoving matches and now more frequent attempts to plunder shops," Reuters reported on August 6.
The worsening economic crisis is undermining support for President Nicolas Maduro, whose approval ratings are falling as tensions throughout the South American country rise.
Chronic shortages leading to unrestAccording to statistical data collected by the local non-governmental organization (NGO) Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict, there were 56 looting incidents in the first half of 2015 along with an additional 76 attempts to loot during the same period. The figures are based on media reports and the testimony of observers around the country.
In recent days, a small crowd that gathered at San Cristobal in the western portion of the country shoved its way into a government-operated supermarket, Bicentenario, to steal items after doors were shuttered and the business had closed. Retail staff were left battered and bruised, according to an account by Edward Perez, the store manager.
"As we were closing, a group of 20 people unexpectedly started shouting insults at the government and the workers," Perez told Reuters in a telephone interview.
A number of looters were arrested after the incident. Perez blamed it on "ultra-right-wing sectors of the opposition" who were merely looking to sow violence, which is something you would expect an employee of an ultra-left-wing government to say.
A few days later, one man was killed and another 60 were arrested in Ciudad Guayana in southern Venezuela after shops had closed for the day.
Government public relations officials declined to respond to a request from Reuters for comment on the rising tensions and incidents of looting; however, Maduro has characterized the country's chronic shortages and the resultant unrest they have caused as nothing more than an "economic war" led by his political opposition. He has also blamed the United States for his country's shortages and other economic problems.
Breitbart News reported that the Maduro government has taken drastic steps to shield the rising unrest from the world. For example, the government has banned the use of mobile devices in supermarkets "following a wave of social media coverage of how empty most Venezuelan supermarkets are, boasting an abundance of snacks and cookies but no vegetable oil, laundry detergent, or diapers."
Predictable collapseVenezuela's economic collapse is not surprising. As noted in this assessment of the late President Hugo Chavez's performance before his death from cancer, five factors have combined to destroy the country's economy, and they can all be traced directly to socialist policy:
- Venezuela has gone from being reliant on oil revenues to predominantly reliant on oil revenues for its economic well-being. In 1998, two years before Chavez was elected, oil comprised 77 percent of the country's exports; by 2011, that figure had risen to 96 percent.
- Chavez crippled the country's private businesses and industry through government expropriations and nationalization. In fact, it has been difficult to measure just how much of the country's business and industrial infrastructure has been confiscated by the government in the name of "redistributionist equality," a socialist utopian construct. Affected sectors include "aluminum, cement, gold, iron, steel, farming, transportation, electricity, food production, banking, paper and the media," Fusion reported.
- Because of the nationalization efforts, the Venezuelan currency has lost two thirds of its value since it was first issued in 2008.
- Shortages caused by bad government policy - such as price-fixing – have led to double-digit inflation.
- Chronic shortages and government overreach have made transformed Venezuelan society; it is now one of the most violent on the planet.
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