Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — Back when potatoes were cheap thanks to good harvests and we had these with every meal, people in Cuba used to jokingly say that “potatoes are life savers.” I’ve already been informed that potatoes haven’t exactly been abundant on the island in recent times.

Here in Venezuela, like everything else you buy, potatoes are increasingly beyond hand’s (or pocket’s) reach.

The last time I went to a market, a kilo was being sold at 600 bolivars***. You may find it for less – or more – at other markets.

A few months ago I visited the state of Trujillo, the towns of Tuñame and Jajo, to be more precise.

There, I noticed potato harvests have diminished considerably. The reason? The government only delivered half of the seeds that farmers needed. Another reason is the high price of fertilizers. Many farmers have opted to grow strawberries, which prove more profitable. Lastly, we have another, more than publicized issue: criminals have taken control of the state of Trujillo.

What this means is that those who work the land, grow crops and transport the produce are threatened into paying fixed quotas to armed men, so that these will protect them from other armed men, or quite simply allow them to travel down the road safely.

Given this situation, it comes as no surprise that the price of potatoes – and all other greens and root vegetables – should now be astronomical. Also, the government isn’t seriously incentivizing farming and there’s a long list of complaints regarding its Agro Patria agricultural program.

agricultores de trujillo, venezuela

Venezuela imports over 70% of the food it consumes. Now that the price of oil is down in the dumps and more than 24 billion dollars have been swallowed up by the portfolios of who knows how many ministers and government officials, it will be long before the general public can access food and other essential products with a modicum of dignity.

(***) The value of the US dollar in Venezuela: There are numerous different exchange rates.
Cencoex: 6.30 Bs
SICAD (for travelers): 12.80 Bs
SIMADI: 198.29 Bs
Parallel: 700 Bs
The government insists that food and medication are sold at the Cencoex exchange rate of 6.3 bolivars per dollar.
Minimum wage is around 7.000 Bs a month.
At this exchange rate, the kilo of potatoes is sold at around 90 US dollars

Click on the thumbnails below to view all the photos in this gallery. On your PC or laptop, you can use the directional arrows on the keyboard to move within the gallery. On cell phones use the keys on the screen.


Caridad

Caridad: If I had the chance to choose what my next life would be like, I’d like to be water. If I had the chance to eliminate a worst aspect of the world I would erase fear. Of all the human feelings I most like I prefer friendship. I was born in the year of the first Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, the day that Gay Pride is celebrated around the world. I no longer live on the east side of Havana; I’m trying to make a go of it in Caracas, and I continue to defend my right to do what I want and not what society expects of me.

14 thoughts on “Venezuela’s Crisis Is No Small Potatoes

  • Two years? Last year you said by the end of the year. Changing your tune a little? There may be hope for you yet.

  • The piece of land called “Venezuela” will survive, but the country is in rapid collapse. Hyper-inflation has hit, shortages of basic staples are growing everyday, crime is soaring, capital flight is increasing as the wealthy elite connected to the ruling PSUV and the Maduro regime are fleeing with everything they can carry.

    The US has many well developed sectors in their economy. If the current low oil prices shut down the more expensive oil extraction projects, the rest of the economy will continue to function. However, 90% of Venezuela’s economy is based on the oil industry. When the prices dropped, it hit Venezuela especially hard. Other oil producing countries have been hurt by the low prices too, but it has been worse for Venezuela because of the rampant corruption and economic mismanagement.

    When the price of oil rises again (and you are correct, it will, but precisely when we don’t know), the US shale oil producers will be back in business driving the US to become the largest oil producer in the world.

    Meanwhile in Venezuela, the Bolivarian Bandits will have long departed, leaving the poor to clean up the mess they made and try to rebuild their country.

  • Oil is a finite resource.
    With a growing planetary demand for oil, with the remaining oil becoming more expensive to extract and with no ready alternative expected for about five years, logic dictates that the price has to go up fairly soon.
    Give it a couple of years

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *