Venezuela’s Agricultural Agony

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

Just when it cannot seem possible for Venezuela’s situation to become so much worse, it does. As food shortages spiral out of control, Venezuela’s agricultural sector cannot provide any food for the hungry people in the country’s cities. Why? Two factors are working here. First, the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez confiscated the properties of many former agricultural landlords and gave it to ordinary people coming from the cities who wanted land and a new start in life. The problem is that these people have no experience in how to grow food, what to use for Venezuela’s rich soil, and really have received no help from the government anyway for what they need to farm. So a great deal of Venezuela’s farm lands lay fallow as people in its cities starve.

And second, those Venezuelans who were able to keep their farms have found the government trying to strangle their business and their livelihoods. Venezuelan farmers cannot import enough feed for their chickens, and cannot get enough fertilizer because the government is hoarding all of the hard cash for either itself or paying off the country’s debts (the national currency, the Bolivar, has lost 99 percent of its value). The government’s socialist price controls mean that Venezuelan farmers cannot get what they need, so therefore they cannot make any money to put back into their farms. The result? Their cows cannot produce much milk, their pigs are getting thinner, and their chickens either produce fewer eggs or no eggs at all. And that is going on the premise that farmers are able to keep their livestock at all. Both criminal gangs and city squatters who settle on lands owned by the farmers (and seemingly with the blessing of the Venezuelan government) are busy stealing what the farmers have left. So if they steal what the farmers have, then how can the farmers produce?

So Venezuela’s agony continues, with no let-up in sight. Sadly, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro remains in power—backed up by the Venezuelan military, backed up by Cuban secret police and other Cuban government agents, and by those Venezuelans who are still loyal to the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.

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