Venezuela's dictator Maduro chomps down an empanada during a long, windy TV speech

Venezuela's people may be starving, but that isn't stopping the country's dictator, Nicolás Maduro, from eating in front of them.

Thursday, Maduro was in the midst of a long-winded national speech known in Venezuela as a "cadena."  He paused, pulled a sandwich-like object out of his desk, and took a bite, chomped it down, and then continued his speech.  He was eating what looked like a Venezuelan arepa, a tasty cornmeal-based snack with probably some meat inside, although the Latin press accounts identified it as an empanada, a dish more commonly associated with Argentina and Chile.

It comes at a time when the Venezuelan daily minimum wage, just raised for the sixth time this year, won't even cover the cost of an empanada, let alone an arepa, given that inflation is running at close to 3,000% and Maduro has just introduced the new 100,000 bolivar note.

Efecto Concuya, via Google Translate, reports:

For the sixth time in 2017, President Nicolás Maduro announced a new increase in the minimum wage that placed the daily salary at Bs. 5,916, but the number of products that can be purchased with that amount is increasingly reduced.

In a sale of breakfast and lunch located in the municipality of Libertador, a pie costs 5,500 bolivars and a filled arepa exceeds Bs. 12,000. There was Rodolfo Gutiérrez, who bought two empanadas and a malt for an amount of Bs. 15,500. That is, someone who only receives a minimum wage, nothing else could pay for a pie.

In a restaurant located in El Cafetal, municipality Baruta, it is impossible to even buy a pie, because it has a price of Bs. 7,500. A large coffee is also inaccessible since it is sold above 8,000 bolivars.

What it shows is the Venezuelan elites' complete indifference to the suffering of Venezuela's people.  They mark their superiority over the masses – not by flashing Rolexes anymore, but by eating in front of them.

And don't think such a message didn't get out.  Cadenas in Venezuela break into every TV set, every radio show, every program without warning, no matter what's playing.  You don't have the option to flip the channel, because the cadena is on every channel.

And cadenas can last for hours.  The logic was that the president's announcements were so crucial, so important, and so necessary that every other broadcast could just be broken into, like the emergency broadcast system.  The late, unlamented Hugo Chávez rapidly put paid to that logic, discussing his airplane rides, his diarrhea, his weight problems, his woman problems, all in addition to his ravings on Meester Boosh.

Maduro, a former bus driver, is colossally stupid and may have been doing just what came naturally to his uncouth self in taking the bite out of the empanada, having no sense of propriety or sense of the office he holds.  But the message sent to Venezuelans is clear enough: the elites eat.  The poor don't.

Venezuela's people may be starving, but that isn't stopping the country's dictator, Nicolás Maduro, from eating in front of them.

Thursday, Maduro was in the midst of a long-winded national speech known in Venezuela as a "cadena."  He paused, pulled a sandwich-like object out of his desk, and took a bite, chomped it down, and then continued his speech.  He was eating what looked like a Venezuelan arepa, a tasty cornmeal-based snack with probably some meat inside, although the Latin press accounts identified it as an empanada, a dish more commonly associated with Argentina and Chile.

It comes at a time when the Venezuelan daily minimum wage, just raised for the sixth time this year, won't even cover the cost of an empanada, let alone an arepa, given that inflation is running at close to 3,000% and Maduro has just introduced the new 100,000 bolivar note.

Efecto Concuya, via Google Translate, reports:

For the sixth time in 2017, President Nicolás Maduro announced a new increase in the minimum wage that placed the daily salary at Bs. 5,916, but the number of products that can be purchased with that amount is increasingly reduced.

In a sale of breakfast and lunch located in the municipality of Libertador, a pie costs 5,500 bolivars and a filled arepa exceeds Bs. 12,000. There was Rodolfo Gutiérrez, who bought two empanadas and a malt for an amount of Bs. 15,500. That is, someone who only receives a minimum wage, nothing else could pay for a pie.

In a restaurant located in El Cafetal, municipality Baruta, it is impossible to even buy a pie, because it has a price of Bs. 7,500. A large coffee is also inaccessible since it is sold above 8,000 bolivars.

What it shows is the Venezuelan elites' complete indifference to the suffering of Venezuela's people.  They mark their superiority over the masses – not by flashing Rolexes anymore, but by eating in front of them.

And don't think such a message didn't get out.  Cadenas in Venezuela break into every TV set, every radio show, every program without warning, no matter what's playing.  You don't have the option to flip the channel, because the cadena is on every channel.

And cadenas can last for hours.  The logic was that the president's announcements were so crucial, so important, and so necessary that every other broadcast could just be broken into, like the emergency broadcast system.  The late, unlamented Hugo Chávez rapidly put paid to that logic, discussing his airplane rides, his diarrhea, his weight problems, his woman problems, all in addition to his ravings on Meester Boosh.

Maduro, a former bus driver, is colossally stupid and may have been doing just what came naturally to his uncouth self in taking the bite out of the empanada, having no sense of propriety or sense of the office he holds.  But the message sent to Venezuelans is clear enough: the elites eat.  The poor don't.

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