In Hugo's 21st Century Socialism, Venezuelans grapple with food shortages

These nearly empty shelves at a shopping store could be a scene from Cuba - yet this is Venezuela under what Hugo Chavez calls "21st Century socialism." A screen grab of these sparsely stocked shelves -- at a rural store near the port city of Puerto La Cruz -- says it all. No sugar. No flour. No toilet paper. You can thank draconian currency exchange and price controls for that, along with epic levels of government mismanagement and corruption. Globovision, a Caracas TV channel under attack by the Chavez's administration, reports that shoppers who live near the northeastern city -- a tourist destination and oil-refinery town -- report products are hard to find. And when they are found, prices are high and lines are long. When I was reporting from Venezuela in the late 1990s, I noted that painful free-market reforms -- belatedly introduced by President Rafael Caldera (Chavez's predecessor) -- were making life tough for poor Venezuelans. They were eating less meat as...(Read Full Post)