Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Venezuela rich, but without milk, meat, sugar...

Chávez’ old magic is not working as well as it used to. After almost nine years in power he has not addressed the worsening security situation in the poor barrios, the main concern of over 60% of the population, and the scarcity of basic food items like milk, meat, sugar and cooking oil is becoming more acute by the week.
Although large shipments are supposed to arrive from Brazil before the referendum (a ship carrying Brazilian cattle sank a few miles outside of Puerto Cabello last week, and the dead animals have been washing ashore since), rice and pasta are expected to be the next to disappear from the shelves.
The MERCAL food distribution network is close to collapsing, most of its subsidized products finding their way to the black market, and two out of three of its outlets are simply not functioning, says Jesus Torrealba, the host of the popular Radar de los Barrios radio and TV program. Many of the Cuban doctors of the Barrio Adentro program only survive because the people provide them with food and money, also according to Torrealba.

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