It’s Hard to Even Be a Vegetarian in Today’s Venezuela

Grains and seeds at the Catia Market.
Grains and seeds at the Catia Market.

By Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — Having any type of diet in Venezuela has actually become quite difficult.

Beef and chicken are an essential part of the daily diet of many Venezuelans. As the year unfolds, food products are becoming less and less available and becoming the focus of people’s daily concerns, prompted by agonizingly long lines and a constant increase in food prices.

Fish counter at the Catia Market.
Fish counter at the Catia Market.

Though arepas help, the truth is that very few people eat arepas made out of natural corn flour. Harina Pan, the flour produced by the company Empresa Polar, has gone up in price considerably and it’s a highly-refined flour that is left with very few of the nutrients found in maize. The same is true of the processed flours produced by State companies. These, instead of going up in price, have simply vanished from the market.

Those of us who do not include much meat in our daily menus didn’t have many problems with these shortages or the chilling rise in the price of beef and chicken, but that was only the beginning of this so-called “economic war.” Today, farm production also fails to satisfy the growing demand for root and green vegetables, such that buying a kilo of potatoes right now could prove as expensive as purchasing a kilo of chicken. This is true with all other vegetables and fruits.

Anyone hoping to include a bit of grain (such as beans) in their diet should arm themselves with a bit of patience and wait for these to “re-appear.” It is also advisable to be very eager to eat them, for their price is more scandalous than that of potatoes. The cheapest of beans is the black bean, but, as we know, they are the least nutritional of all.

Minimum wage is below 8 thousand Bolivars and a family’s basic needs were estimated at 24 thousand Bolivars this month.

Re-selling, once practiced by a handful of groups, particularly at border states such as Zuilia, is today practiced by hundreds of people across Venezuela. This activity proves more profitable than any proper job and no control measure has managed to prevent those who have the time and smarts for this type of business from standing in line, time and time again, to re-sell essential products at three or more times the original price.

At the Catia Market.
At the Catia Market.

I know a couple persons who were house cleaners and who have quit their jobs because they make a lot more money re-selling products. Their former employers now pay them to stand in line, so as to secure products such as soap, toilet paper, shampoo, flour and others.

All the while, thousands of banners promoting new legislative candidates of the governing United Socialist Party (PSUV) are showing up everywhere, and I wonder whether, rather than having spent thousands of Bolivars printing these in color, it wouldn’t have been wiser to print them in black and white…or not to have printed them at all. Politicians, however, aren’t interested in being wise, only in publicity.

The absence of food products manufactured by government companies says a lot more about this economic war than all of the president’s empty speeches.

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4 thoughts on “It’s Hard to Even Be a Vegetarian in Today’s Venezuela

  • Ken, while I have not confirmed the alleged facts in your comment, I do easily agree with the sentiment behind your comment. But, read my comment again. I ask what does Venezuela “deserve”? Is Maduro the best that they can do? I am also wondering out loud if there is some part of the 115% annualized inflation owed to the decisions being made by a poorly-educated President. Jus’ saying. …..

  • If you google “successful people who dropped out of high school,” you will find that dropping out of school does not necessarily make you an idiot.
    I wonder what percentage of people in Maduro’s age group completed high school in Venezuela. I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know that there is a higher incidence of dropout among racial minorities in Canada and the US. This does not indicate a lack of intelligence. It does indicate the absence of equal opportunity.

  • “Book smarts” don’t count for everything. But an oil – rich country of 30+ million people like Venezuela deserves a President that at least graduated from High School. Maduro dropped out a year before graduation. Do you think that a part of Venezuela’s problem is that their President is an idiot?

  • It is always this way for state run economies. The more control the state exerts the worse it gets. These totalitarian want to be states need to learn from China, Vietnam or Russia. You can run an authoritarian regime if you lossen up and let a market economy supply the funds needed to run the state and it’s welfare programs. It comes down to people need to be compensated for their work or you won’t get much work. Che’s new man was fanciful.

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