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Why Venezuela Is Starving

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10/02/2018

Nicolás Maduro’s recent visit to China has been highly criticized because it was done in the worst of the Venezuela’s crisis. Almost 4 million people have left this country in recent years — a country that is ranked on the 2018 Misery Index as the most miserable country of the world. Hyperinflation is destroying the hope of millions of Venezuelans that for many reasons continue living there and suffering the misery that socialism has achieved.

Maduro's visit to China is understandable. China has given Venezuela around 65 billion dollars in loans, cash, and investments. Venezuela still owes more than 20 billion dollars, and as Russ Dallen said, the Chinese want to get paid back and the only way is with Venezuela’s oil production back up and running. This means that the Asian country is practically the owner of Venezuela’s oil. The regime has mortgaged the country's wealth, and future generations will suffer the consequences. With an oil production perpetually hampered by the regime's policies, decaying technology, and the rampant corruption linked with the drug-trafficking and terrorist activities of the main heads of the regime, the 5 billion dollars obtained during Maduro's current visit will only worsen the sad situation that Venezuelans are suffering.

At the end of July 2018, the National Assembly estimated that each week six Venezuelan children die of starvation. Some of the most important universities in Venezuela made a survey in 2017 (ENCOVI2017) and in that time 87% of Venezuelan households were poor; 9 of 10 Venezuelans could not pay for food; 8.2 million Venezuelans could barely afford 2 or less meals each day — meals with low nutrition and little protein; 6 out of 10 Venezuelans have lost at least 11Kg (24 pounds) of their body weight because of the lack of food. This is set to worsen as the crisis continues.

Recently, Maduro has incrementally raised the minimum wage 3,000%, removed 5 zeros from the currency value, and eliminated some exchange control rules. Nevertheless those policies are ineffective because these measures do nothing about the root causes of the nation's misery. The real causes, of course, the socialism and a narco-terrorist regime. The effects of the regime's out-of-control spending is easy enough to see. Professor Steve Hanke from Johns Hopkins University measures daily the annual inflation of Venezuela. To my knowledge, his measure is the most accurate measure — and the nearest to the real situation of Venezuela. As of the time of this writing, the annual inflation reported by Hanke is 45,236%. Needless to say, people are getting poorer — and poorer at a rapidly increasing rate.

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With this hellish scenario some pictures and videos of the dictator Maduro were posted in social media. He can be seen enjoying the culinary arts of chef Salt-Bae in one of his high class chain restaurants Nusr-Et in Turkey. Maduro and his wife Cilia smile with satisfaction as they eat a piece of meat that would cost more than a whole year's salary for many Venezuelans. The resulting anger and indignation of people in Venezuela was immediate. The critics were focused on this miserable and selfish act: while Venezuelans are starving, have no access to medicines, and whose only hope is to flee a country devastated by socialism, their "rulers" enjoy the luxuries of capitalism in a far-off land.

Rafael Acevedo is Founder Director of Econintech, and teaches at the Universidad Centroccidental Lisandro Alvarado in Barquisimeto. He is also Director of Politics of the Venezuelan Freedom Movement, and a Research Associate at the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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