Can’t drink to this: Venezuelans could be facing severe beer shortage

  • beer latino 3.jpg

    (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images) (2014 Getty Images)

As Venezuela suffers from a severe economic crisis, many locals have been commiserating in bars across the country overflowing with a wide variety of frothy beers.

“Beer is the best beverage there is to enjoy a chat with friends,” Alfredo Ramírez, 29, told Fox News Latino with a beer in hand at El León, a popular bar in the east of Caracas that at one time sold about 300 cases a week.

Venezuelans have had reason to drown their sorrows after dealing with a slew of shortages – including milk, toilet paper, diapers, medicine and basic beauty products. But now, they are trying to figure out how to deal with the country’s newest crisis: a dearth of beer.

“I travel a lot for work, and in the last two weeks I haven’t found beer in many bars of Aragua, Guárico (states in the center of the country) and Caracas,” Ramírez said. “That upsets me, because beer is the No. 1 drink in Venezuela.”

The country’s largest beer distributor, Empresas Polar, has been battling with union workers with close ties to the government who have been demanding higher wages. Union workers at the company, which distributes about 70 percent of the nation’s beer, have shut down breweries and distributors to try to force the company to approve a new contract – a move that has threatened to deplete the country’s beer supply.

The company has said the union’s actions are “political.”

Local beer makers have been unable to buy basic staples like barley and malt, and aluminum needed for cans is in very short supply. Inflation has also been nearing triple-digit levels, prompting the country to spiral into an ever-worsening crisis.

Daniel De Souza, manager of El León, said the bar is already having a difficult time trying to find certain types of beer. He said distributors have told him that by the end of July the shipments, which have already started to slow down, might stop.

“In the past we only sold beer in bottles, now we offer cans or whatever options we can find to satisfy clients,” De Souza said. “Distributors treat us better because we have been in this business for years, but other bars and restaurants already ran out of beer.”

People have been trying to adapt to the situation, and some are making light of it. A common joke people tell: “If the beer runs out in this country, the government will be overthrown.”

Other beverages, like whiskey, are also difficult to find but much more expensive. A bottle of Scotch can cost up to 12,000 Bolivars, or about $1,700 at the official exchange rate. Prices are expected to increase in the coming months because of new taxes imposed on alcohol sales.

Given the high cost, the Venezuelan Federation of Liquor Stores (Federación Venezolana de Licorerías y Afines) said whiskey consumption dropped last year, while cheaper beverages, like beer, increased dramatically.

But now that option seems to be slipping away.

“Last year we received more than 60 cases of beer weekly. Now we’re getting between 20 and 30. This week we didn’t get anything,” said Jorge Arabia, who works at the Líder Liquor Store in Caracas.

Aurelio De Freitas, owner of a liquor store and a bar in Los Palos Grandes, in the east of Caracas, is facing the same problem.

“I am receiving 20 percent of the merchandise that I used to get in the past,” he said. “The situation is worst with pilsner beer, which is the most popular, and now you can’t find it.”

To deal with the situation, stores are beginning to ration their sales. Arabia said that Líder is only allowing customers to buy two six-packs, while De Freitas, whose store is also an official Polar distributor that sells to small restaurants, is selling a maximum of 10 cases to each costumer.

“In the past, we used to sell around 150 to 200,” De Freitas said.

For now, Venezuelans are trying to make do.

“If they don’t have the beer I like, I order another. If they don’t have any, I drink sangria. Other alcoholic beverages are really expensive right now,” said Gilberto Rivero, while holding a beer at another Caracas bar, La California.

But others argue that beer is “irreplaceable.” Miguel Castillo, 25, who was drinking at El León with a friend, said the beer shortage will likely disrupt social gatherings.

He brought up the joke about the shortage of beer threatening the country’s Chavista regime.

“This is what we have been waiting for,” he said. “When the beer runs out, let’s see what happens with the government.”

But supporters of the government were more optimistic. Carlos García, 29, who was drinking at El León, believes that beer won’t run out, “because we are Venezuelans and revolutionaries.”

@PatrideCeballos @liliantintori Mass Protests Back the Hunger Strike of Venezuela’s Political Prisoners

Leopoldo López and Daniel Ceballos Fast for Release, an Election Date

Many thousands of Caracas residents came together with Leopoldo López's wife Lilian Tintori (pictured) to demonstrate their support for her husband and other political prisoners in Venezuela. (<a href="https://www.facebook.com/liliantintorioficial/photos/pb.135171103876.-2207520000.1433080716./10152987668378877/" target="_blank">Lilian Tintori</a>)

Venezuelan political prisoners, with Leopoldo López and Daniel Ceballos taking the lead, remain adamant in their hunger strike. It will not end until the National Electoral Council sets a date for congressional elections this year, and until the 79 political prisoners in the South American nation are freed.+

That was the message conveyed by López’s wife, Lilian Tintori, during the #30MVamosTodos(let’s go everyone) mass demonstration on Saturday, May 30. The show of support took place in Caracas and at least 10 other cities in Venezuela, along with more than 20 other cities throughout the world. Venezuelans and sympathizers gathered to call on the international community and the regime of Nicolás Maduro to respect the rule of law.+

Exiles from Venezuela and sympathizers gather at the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Santiago, Chile, to express their support for the demands of the #30MVamosTodos demonstration. "Right away: a date for congressional elections." (Cientochenta Foundation)

Tintori was one of four speakers at the Caracas demonstration — alongside Patricia de Ceballos, mayor of San Cristóbal and wife of Ceballos; Mitzy Capriles, wife of political prisoner and Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma; and opposition leader María Corina Machado — and she announced an upcoming day of fasting as a show of solidarity with Venezuelan political prisoners: “Neither Daniel nor Leopoldo have eaten anything in the about a week now, and we shall stand with them.”+

Tintori called on Venezuelans to “be on alert for actions to be announced. All will be peaceful, and we do not want anyone to close the streets or set fire to tires. We shall go home peacefully, and return to streets peacefully again in the coming days.”+

Prior to the event, Tintori requested that participants dress in white and carry flowers, since Maduro’s officials constantly accuse the opposition of having a violent agenda.+

Now, she wants to see a united front among campaigners for the rule of law and democratic accountability: “The regime wants us to fragment. I pledge to unity, pledge to peace, pledge to freedom for Venezuela.”+

Beyond López and Ceballos, eight other individuals in Venezuela are engaged in the hunger strike, including one lady. She began her fast on Saturday, across from the headquarters of the headquarters of the Organization of American States in Caracas.+

“I call on three women,” Tintori said, “Dilma Roussell, president of Brazil, Michelle Bachelet, president of Chile, and Christina Fernández, president of Argentina — that they come to Venezuela and help in this social, political, and economic crisis.”+

The name of Argentinean head of state, in contrast to those of Brazil and Chile, drew an echoing boo throughout the crowd of approximately 10,000. They gathered on Francisco de Miranda Avenue, in the east of the Venezuelan capital.+

The gathering highlighted the “marcha de las cabezas rapadas” (march of the buzz cuts), in support of Ceballos. Prison officials transferred him a week prior to the dangerous Ramo Verde Military Prison, away from where he was in touch with López and 110 kilometers from Caracas.+

The former mayor of San Cristóbal (succeeded by his wife) has completed his one-year sentence, but continues to be held. With his arrival at the new prison, guards had his hair cut down to a zero, as occurs with many common inmates.+

At the protest, therefore, Freddy Guevara of the Caracas municipal council had his hair cut in a full buzz cut. He called on others to do the same as an act of solidarity.+

Adding clout to the event, ex-presidents Andrés Pastrana of Colombia and Jorge Quiroga of Bolivia, attended personally. They had sought to visit with the two prisoners, but were not permitted by Chavista authorities. Quiroga called on the local media to make their presence felt when it came to the suffering of the political prisoners.+

The political party of López and Ceballos, Popular Will, sponsored the event, which did not receive the support of other opposition parties in the Democratic Unity Roundtable. The other parties permitted freedom of conscience for members to attend, and opposition leader and Miranda Governor Henrique Capriles had announced his presence. However, he did not show, or at least was not among the lineup of speakers.+

Both the demonstrations and the hunger strike have come with four demands: a date for congressional elections this year; observation of the elections by the Organization of American States and the European Union; the release of all political prisoners; and an end to all repression and political persecution of the opposition.+

Venezuela “Is a Dictatorship”

Patricia de Ceballos, sporting a shortened haircut of her own, called attention to the case of her husband, in his eighth day of hunger strike: “Daniel is stuck in a dump, and they are violating his rights. We call for respect towards the dissidents, a free press, and until then we will not stop the hunger strike.”+

“One must say clearly,” she added, “this is a dictatorship!” and the demonstrators echoed the cry.+

In a call for support from the rest of the Democratic Unity Roundtable, the mayor said “we don’t want unity in the cemetery, when we are burying my husband. We want unity now … there is no time to get caught up in chitchat.”+

Machado joined the chorus and proclaimed that “the transition has already begun, because the regime is crumbling.” She wants people to participate in this process and concern themselves with the reconstruction of the nation: “We are not going to abandon the streets, nor shall we let go of the peaceful battle.”+

San Cristóbal Mayor Patricia de Ceballos cut her hair to show support for her husband, who has been moved to an isolated and dangerous prison.

“We Are Tired”

The PanAm Post, present at the Caracas demonstration, sought the views of various attendees. One was María Auxiliadora García, a bio-analyst at a public hospital. She shared that she was tired of having to queue for everything, and that the regime had “destroyed the nation.”+

“It feels like being in prison in Venezuela, because now you cannot even travel abroad. When I graduated 30 years ago, I earned a salary of about US$2,000 per month, and now about $15. There is no rule of law here.”+

On the other hand, Joicy Yanes (who preferred to withhold his real name), works in the Caracas municipal office of Libertador, which is headed by Jorge Rodríguez, one of the highestChavistas on the totem pole: “Sixteen years have passed fighting against this, and never has this nation been worse. Now people are invading the building next to my own house, and crime is overwhelming. Right here, we feel fear. I want a nation in which my children don’t have fear, in which they can study and dream of a future better than what I have.”

Henri Ramos: Ojalá Maduro reclamara a Obama la explotación del Esequibo

Mar, 07/04/2015 – 10:12

El diputado a la Asamblea Nacional, Henri Ramos Allup, expresó este martes a través de su cuenta en Twitter, sus deseos de que el presidente venezolano reclame en las próxima Cumbre de las Américas, la explotación del Esequibo por parte de Guyana.

Henri Ramos resaltó que el reclamo es propicio realizarlo en la próxima Cumbre de las Américas en Panamá”Ojalá en reunión de Panamá Maduro reclamara a Obama, la explotación petróleo en nuestro Esequibo por empresa norteamericana favorecida por Guyana con apoyo de Cuba”, refirió el dirigente opositor.

Asimismo, el diputado afirmó que Guyana es “amiga” de Venezuela para lucrarse pero enemiga cuando aprovecha con apoyo de Cuba, la explotación petrólera por empresas norteamericanas en el Esequibo venezolano.

Del mismo modo, mencionó que Venezuela ha perdido parte del reclamo del Esequibo gracias al fallecido presidente Hugo Chávez. “La entrega del Esequibo y la renuncia a la histórica reclamación de Venezuela, fue consumada por Chávez por instancias de Fidel Castro”, aseguró.

Agregó que en la reunión de la Cumbre Grupo de Río el 08 de marzo de 2008 Chávez deslegitimó el reclamo histórico de Venezuela sobre la zona en reclamación.

Caracas es la tercera ciudad más barata del mundo (en dólar Simadi, claro nada mas)

Caracas

08/03/2015

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CARACAS VISTA DESDE LA TORRE DE DAVID
CRISIS ECONÓMICA | DEVALUACIÓN | EXTRANJEROS EN VENEZUELA |

La encuesta Worldwide Cost of Living, que semestralmente presenta la Unidad de Inteligencia de la revista The Economist, arrojó que Singapur es la ciudad más cara del mundo, en tanto que Karachi (Pakistán) es la más barata, seguida por Bangalore y Caracas.

La capital de Venezuela pasó de ser una de las más caras del mundo para los visitantes a estar entre las más baratas, gracias a la macro devaluación que representa el dólar oficial Simadi (por encima de Bs 170), que permite a extranjeros gastar libremente con sus tarjetas de crédito y cambiar de forma legal a una tasa más próxima a la del dólar paralelo, según analistas venezolanos.

Según reseña el medio mexicano El Economista, citando a The Economist, en Singapur, el costo de una botella de vino, un paquete de cigarros y un kilo de pan es de US$40 estadounidenses en promedio, mientras que en Karachi, los mismos productos cuestan US$17.50.

Estos son algunos datos del más reciente estudio Worldwide Cost of Living (Encuesta de costo de vida mundial), que presenta semestralmente la Unidad de Inteligencia de la revista The Economist. El estudio muestra las 10 ciudades del mundo en donde resulta más caro y más barato vivir en el 2015.

Esta lista es el resultado de una comparación de los precios de 160 productos y servicios como precios de comida, bebidas, ropa, vivienda, educación, entretenimiento y servicios básicos en cada una de las 130 ciudades analizadas.

El Worldwide Cost of Living toma como base a Nueva York, ciudad que se encuentra en el puesto 22 este año, y a Singapur como la ciudad más cara del mundo por segundo año consecutivo, seguida de París y Oslo.

Tokio, que se había mantenido entre las primeras diez posiciones durante los últimos años, se encuentra ahora en onceava posición y el estudio atribuye el declive a la devaluación del yen.

Las 10 ciudades más caras para vivir y su puntuación con respecto a New York (100) son las siguientes:

Singapur, Singapur (129)
París, Francia (126)
Oslo, Noruega (124)
Zurich, Suiza (121)
Sydney, Australia (120)
Melbourne, Australia (118)
Ginebra, Suiza (116)
Copenhague, Dinamarca (115)
Hong Kong, China (113)
Seúl, Corea del Sur (113)
Las ciudades más baratas, según el estudio, son:

Karachi, Pakistán (44)
Bangalore, India (44)
Caracas, Venezuela (45)
Mumbai, India (45)
Chennai, India (46)
Nueva Delhi, India (48)
Damasco, Siria (49)
Teherán, Irán (49)
Katmandú, Nepal (51)
Argel, Argelia (52)

A 15 muertes violentas aumenta el promedio diario en Gran Caracas

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420 cadáveres ingresaron a la Morgue de Bello Monte en febrero, con 15 muertes violentas en promedio cada día en Gran Caracas. El promedio sigue aumentando. Fueron 14 víctimas diarias en enero. Este año han sido asesinados en la Gran Caracas 27 funcionarios de los cuerpos de seguridad del Estado y 33 mujeres.

 

 

Mr. Maduro in His Labyrinth

A line to buy basic goods in Caracas, Venezuela CreditJorge Silva/Reuters

Framed portraits of the Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez were propped up at various stops of President Nicolás Maduro’s recent whirlwind trip abroad, as the man at the helm of the nation with the world’s largest oil reservesbegged for bailouts.

Posters of his predecessor also abounded when Mr. Maduro, a former bus driver, arrived home to a carnival-like welcome, as he drove the lead coach of a convoy that snaked through crowds of supporters.

Last week, in a speech before lawmakers, Mr. Maduro, whose approval rating has slipped to 22 percent as the Venezuelan economy teeters on the brink of collapse, again invoked his mentor in predicting a landslide victory in upcoming parliamentary elections. “I have no doubt that Chávez’s nation will deliver a great victory in the memory of Hugo Chávez in elections that are being held this year,” he said.

Since he was voted into office in April 2013 by a minuscule margin after Mr. Chávez’s death, Mr. Maduro has leaned heavily on the legacy of his predecessor, a populist who governed poorly but had magnetic charisma and shrewd political instincts. Woefully lacking on both fronts, Mr. Maduro has become increasingly erratic and despotic in a quest for political survival that seems more daunting by the day. Healthy oil export revenue allowed Mr. Chávez to build a robust network of patronage and create generous welfare programs during his 14 years in power. Those are becoming increasingly paltry on Mr. Maduro’s watch.

The tumbling price of oil, which accounts for 95 percent of Venezuela’s export earnings, has nearly destroyed an economy that has been managed dismally for years. Inflation rose to 64 percent last year. On Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund predicted that Venezuela’s economy would contract 7 percent in 2015, which could force Mr. Maduro’s government to default on its loans or significantly curtail the subsidized oil his country provides to allies in the Caribbean, including Cuba.

Mr. Maduro has been vague about the type of painful economic measures his government has been willing to embrace, yet he bafflingly has promised to expand social programs and raise salaries. Far from acknowledging responsibility for the crisis, he and his loyalists have blamed the revenue shortfalls on political opponents they accuse of enabling an international conspiracy.

They have jailed one of the most prominent figures in the opposition, Leopoldo López, since last February on trumped up charges of stoking violent protests a year ago. During Mr. López’s Kafkaesque trial, which is still in process, prosecutors have argued that he instigated bloodshed through subliminal messages.

Last month, the authorities in Venezuela charged another opposition leader, María Corina Machado, with plotting to assassinate Mr. Maduro — a ludicrous, unfounded allegation against another inspiring challenger.

The crackdown on the opposition, unobstructed by a weak and compromised press, appears to be an effort to divert attention from Venezuelans’ deteriorating quality of life. Security forces have been deployed to maintain order outside supermarkets, where people line up for hours to scrounge whatever is left on depleted shelves.

On a recent afternoon, a Venezuelan woman who had been waiting in line since 4 a.m. showed a television journalist from Al Jazeera English her forearm, where someone had written the number 413 with a black marker to establish her place in line. “Now we are like cattle,” the woman lamented. “This must end.”

Hours later, Mr. Maduro’s government responded with its standard effort to find a scapegoat for the national calamity. The head of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, in a televised address, called the journalist, Mónica Villamizar, an American spy.

Opositores marcharon en contra de las #OllasVacías en Caracas (Fotos)

Publicado el Sábado, 24/Enero/2015

Miles de venezolanos recorrieron calles del centro y sureste de Caracas atendiendo la convocatoria de la alianza opositora Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD), en protesta por la grave escasez de productos básicos y la crisis económica en el país caribeño.

Fotos: Twitter

Los problemas de suministro de alimentos como leche, pollo, café, azúcar, aceite, harina de maíz; y de productos como pañales, detergentes, papel higiénico o medicinas, fue el principal reclamo de las personas en la marcha.

La “Marcha de las ollas vacías” cerró con un mitin de los dirigentes opositores.

La destituida diputada María Corina Machado -imputada por instigación a la violencia en las cruentas protestas de 2014- afirmó que el presidente Maduro “tiene que hacerse a un lado que para Venezuela pueda unirse”, pues a su juicio “el cambio de régimen urgente” por la vía constitucional “no puede esperar”.

El secretario ejecutivo de la MUD, Jesús ‘Chúo’ Torrealba, insistió en que el camino para la oposición es “voto y calle”, en alusión a las venideras elecciones legislativas.

Los reclamos más airados de los asistentes giraban en torno a las penurias para comprar productos básicos, la corrupción y desvíos de recursos y la situación de varios dirigientes políticos encarcelados.

Uno de los manifestantes, José Salinas, arquitecto de 46 años de edad, aseguró a la AFP que acudió a marchar por “todo lo que estamos padeciendo” en Venezuela.

“Esta escasez de alimentos, en las farmacias, y todo ha subido muchísimo de precio, la carne cuesta el doble”, dijo.

El gobernador de Miranda y excandidato presidencial, Henrique Capriles Radonski, acompañó la marcha y estuvo en la tarima, pero no dio ningún discurso, para sorpresa de varios asistentes.

Hubo llamamientos a la unidad política en las filas opositoras para acudir en bloque a las elecciones parlamentarias previstas para finales de este año.

Mientras la oposición protestaba contra la escasez, Maduro encabezaba un megaoperativo de venta de alimentos subsidiados en el centro de Caracas.

Según encuestas, la popularidad del presidente Nicolás Maduro apenas llega a 22%, y la gestión de gobierno es rechazada por más de tres cuartas partes de la población.

El mandatario venezolano tendrá que lidiar este año con una caída de 61% en los precios del petróleo en los últimos 7 meses, materia prima de la que Venezuela obtiene 96% de sus divisas.

En 2014 el pais caribeño, el de las mayores reservas de crudo del mundo, cerró con una inflación de 64%, la escasez de casi un tercio de los rubros básicos, una economía en recesión, y segunda tasa de homicidios más alta del mundo según la OMS.

 

#Venezuela behind only Honduras as country with most murders per capita, NGO says

  • Venezuela Murder Rate.jpg

A non-governmental group that tracks crime in Venezuela says the country’s homicide rate rose again in 2014.

The Venezuelan Violence Observatory estimates that 24,980 killings occurred this year, pushing the homicide rate up to 82 per 100,000 inhabitants. The group says that makes Venezuela the No. 2 country in the world for murders per capita, after Honduras.

Last year, the observatory counted 79 killings per 100,000 people. In 1998, the rate was 19 per 100,000.

The report published Monday is based on press reports, victim surveys and officials’ comments. Venezuelan authorities generally dispute the group’s findings, and say the crime situation is improving.

Victims include people in wealthy and poor neighborhoods and armed guards and police. Jusat this past weekend, a National Guardsman was killed in Caracas, reportedly in an attempt to steal his motorcycle.

Battle with Scarcity Is Venezuela’s New Christmas Tradition

Seasonal Spirit Out of Stock as Desperate Citizens Fight for Supplies

Datanálisis calculates that 65 percent of those waiting in line for price-regulated goods in Venezuela plan to sell them on.

As President Nicolás Maduro forges ahead with 21st-century socialism, new Christmas traditions are emerging in Venezuela. Huge queues of people waiting to buy supplies or gifts are only the most visible symptom.

Citizens face worsening scarcity every day, and the lines are getting longer. Luis Vicente León, director of Datanálisis, said at the end of November that seven out of 10 shops in Caracas lacked basic goods at government-regulated prices. In August, the scarcity of basic supplies nationwide rose to some 70 percent, and prices were up by 63 percent.

Meanwhile, the Venezuelan Pharmaceutical College revealed in October that 70 percent of pharmacies nationwide lacked necessary medication.

Clothing shops have also been affected by shortages and government price controls. On December 10, the government minister responsible for pricing, Andrés Eloy Méndez,charged the childrens’ clothes shop EPK with allegedly violating the law by setting “speculative” prices between 19 and 60 percent higher than those permitted.

As a result of the prosecution, long lines appeared outside the chain, as people sought to buy clothes at a “fair price,” and fulfill the tradition of wearing brand new clothes to receive the baby Jesus.

Virginia, from Araujo, who joined shoppers in the line, said that she’d visited EPK a few days before without being able to buy the clothing needed to dress her four grandchildren, due to exorbitant prices. “We’re going to take the opportunity to see if there really can be a fair price for these goods,” she told Noticias 24 Carabobo.

On December 12, in the city of  Puerto Ordaz (Bolívar State), shoppers waited in line for 14 hours — and fought among themselves — to buy foodstuffs in an Abasto Bicentenario, a government supermarket.

Morela Mora arrived in the queue at 6 a.m. with her 70-year-old wheelchair-bound mother. “This is the most degrading thing. There were people throwing punches, and I almost had to fight the guard because we wouldn’t join the line outside in the sun,” she said to Correo del Caroní.

This is how you buy food in Venezuela.

The Struggle for “Fair” Prices 

This year saw a revival of an episode from Christmas 2013 known as El Dakazo. In November 2013, Maduro’s government obliged the electronic appliance sector to cut prices by up to 77 percent, causing demand to skyrocket and many products to disappear shortly before Christmas. This run on prices brought with it looting and other serious assaults on private property in the main urban centers of the country.

On November 21, 2014, an official program regulating the sale of domestic appliances began, called Mi Casa Bien Equipada, or “My Well-Equipped Home.” Goods such as fridge-freezers, washing machines, and televisions were sold at cut-price rates in public and private outlets.

Many took up positions outside said outlets: goods were available on a first come, first served basis. Winding queues and improvised shelters outside shops like Daka, Traki, and Mercados Bicentenario became an everyday sighting.

Queuing customers complained that some were selling places in the line for prices approaching 3,000 Bs. (US$16, in a country where the minimum wage is $26.80 per month, according to the free-dollar exchange rate). Shops were said to receive at least 200 people a day.

The lines also made other sections of the population unhappy. Residents of several zones in Carabobo State (178 kilometers from Caracas) were affected by an increase in vehicle traffic and insecurity. A week after the improvised encampments outside shops began, unknown hooded assailants under cover of darkness threw firebombs at those on guard outside Daka in the neighborhood of Naguanagua.

Although none were hurt, local media reported a confrontation between police and the attackers. Following the attack, numbers which allocate a place in shop lines are now handed out in other outlets on the far edge of the city.

Employment Down, Queues Up

Damiano Del Véscovo, President of Carabobo State’s Chamber of Commerce (Fedecámaras) warns that Venezuela is facing stagflation, with five to six times greater scarcity than the international average, and a 4 percent fall in GDP.

The Chamber calculates that national productivity is at 40 percent of capacity due to the loss of investment, judicial insecurity, and the difficulty of obtaining foreign currency reserves. “Our production has been in free fall, roughly since the year 2011,” Véscovo tells the PanAm Post.

According to his statistics, the last 10 years in Venezuela have seen the loss of almost 4,000 businesses and up to 213,000 employees from all sectors, to the point where almost 5 million people now work in the informal economy.

For Véscovo, confiscations of private property carried out by the executive in 2013 have caused private investment to evaporate. At the same time, the government hasn’t regulated the use of dollars in the private sector effectively, instead dedicating itself to importing products highly subsidized by a “fictitious dollar.” He believes that the economic situation encourages citizens to invest in goods, only to later sell them at higher prices thanks to increasing scarcity.

Véscovo also explains that, in the face of inflation and low interest rates offered by banks, Venezuelans try to protect their money by selling on the most sought-after products. This, he suggests, takes place in all sectors of the national economy: electronic appliances, auto parts, medicines, clothing, shoes, and raw materials, among other areas.

Datanálisis figures further reveal that 65 percent of those waiting in line for both public and private stores are buying products to resell. “They’re in the business of buying regulated products and then selling them on the street. This creates price distortions and causes products to disappear off the shelves. It’s out of control,” argues Luis Vicente León.

Happy New Year

Víctor Maldonado, Director for the Caracas Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services, told the PanAm Post that the outlook for 2015 is bleak, as petrol prices have fallen by 38 percent since June, catching the government with a budgetary deficit and reduced foreign currency reserves.

From the beginning of November, the government announced an increase in the minimum monthly salary to 4,888 Bs. (US$26.80 on the “free” market), representing an increase of 45 percent from 2014. However, the Central Bank announced in its latest report in September that year on year inflation will reach 63.4 percent. Even these figures are optimistic. According to the Cato Institute’s Troubled Currencies project, inflation will close 2014 at 178 percent.

 

Tascas españolas en #Caracas sobreviven entre escasez, inflación e inseguridad

Publicado el Domingo, 7/Dic/2014

Caracas es la ciudad con más tascas españolas de América Latina, pero sus dueños penan por seguir adelante debido a la escasez de alimentos, que los pone en aprietos para confeccionar sus platos, la inflación y una inseguridad que espanta parroquianos nocturnos. Después de Argentina y Francia, el país caribeño alberga la tercera mayor comunidad de emigrantes españoles en el mundo, que llegaron huyendo de la pobreza de las décadas posteriores a la Guerra Civil y atraídos por el auge petrolero de la segunda mitad del siglo XX.

Foto: Referencial (AFP)

La floreciente economía y una sociedad aficionada a comer fuera de casa desde hacía varias generaciones eran el escenario perfecto para que la potente gastronomía española echara raíces a lo largo y ancho del territorio. El resultado son centenares de restaurantes y tascas al más puro estilo español diseminadas por todo el país con una variadísima oferta de platos y tapas de todas las regiones españolas, como el pulpo a la gallega, la fabada asturiana, el cochinillo al horno, los pimientos del piquillo o el bacalao al pil pil. Algunos de estos platos adquirieron variantes, como agregarle vino de Jerez a la paella antes de servirla, o costumbres locales como acompañar los platos con whisky.

“En Venezuela la inmigración española llegó más tarde que en otros países como Argentina. Por eso el estilo de sus restaurantes y su cocina se mantiene más”, explica a AFP el crítico gastronómico Miro Popic, autor de varias guías de restaurantes en el país caribeño. Según Popic, “la cocina española surgió como alternativa económica a la cocina francesa, que era la más sofisticada en la Venezuela petrolera”, hasta que decayó en el país a partir de los 80, con las primeras crisis y devaluaciones de la moneda.

– “Patear mucho para la mercancía” –

La embajada de España en Venezuela acaba de publicar la ‘Guía de Restaurantes Españoles en Caracas’, en la que recomienda 53 establecimientos como el Bar Basque, el Aranjuez, el Cordobés, el Guernica o El barco de Colón, con su estilo intacto -pata de jamón en la barra, tapas a la vista- a pesar del paso de las décadas y de que en ocasiones están regentadas por venezolanos hijos o nietos de los fundadores o personal de otras nacionalidades.

Todos ellos se enfrentan a diario al contexto actual de Venezuela, uno de los países más violentos del mundo, con una inflación superior al 60% y una escasez de uno de cada cuatro productos básicos.

La mayoría están a rebosar, sobre todo a la hora del almuerzo de jueves a domingo, a pesar de que los precios de sus cartas suben más rápido que la espuma.

“Hay que patear mucho para conseguir la mercancía, pero siempre se consigue. Llamando, averiguando, yendo, viniendo”, explica a AFP Egidio Romano, hijo del fundador de ‘La Huerta’, una tasca asturiana en el este de Caracas, mientras sirve su tradicional “cordero encendido”. “El tema de la inseguridad también afecta, antes en las noches venía más gente, pero ahora muchos prefieren quedarse en casa”, agrega.

El dueño español de una pequeña tasca en el este de Caracas, que prefirió hablar en condición de anonimato, asegura que uno de sus trabajadores se dedica toda su jornada a conseguir los alimentos necesarios para su carta, en tiempos en que la escasez de divisas ha limitado las importaciones de alimentos y productos básicos en este país altamente dependiente de las importaciones. A veces estos “compradores” tienen que acudir a los mercados subsidiados por el Gobierno y hacer largas horas de cola para conseguir productos a precio controlado comoleche, azúcar o material de limpieza, que son los que más escasean en el mercado al no resultar rentables para los productores locales y debido al descontrolado contrabando hacia países como Colombia, estimulado por el diferencial cambiario.

Jerson Zambrano es el camarero más veterano de ‘La Cita’, en el barrio de La Candelaria, una zona popular del centro de Caracas, convertida a partir de los años 50 en el epicentro de las tascas españolas en Venezuela y ahora azotada por la inseguridad.

“Hasta los 90, podías estar por estas calles hasta la 1 de la mañana y no te pasaba nada. Ahora, la mayoría está cerrando a las 10 o 11. Incluso algunas ya cerraron del todo”, explica mientras muestra la caldera de mero con mariscos, el plato estrella de la casa.

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