The grinch of socialism pays Venezuela a Christmas visit

The grinch of socialism is visiting Venezuela this year, bearing coal. Scratch that, in Venezuela, coal is too costly - and in short supply. Socialism is bringing to Venezuela utterly nothing and Santa Claus is not being allowed in.

It's going to be a very, very, very bleak holiday in Venezuela as described in this Washington Post report:

Downtown Caracas was once festooned with Christmas lights during the holidays. Now, as Enrique and Viviana strolled with their kids down a major Caracas shopping street, it was devoid of holiday decor.

“It’s like Christmas isn’t even happening this year,” said Enrique, 30, as he carried his 4-year-old, Victoria, in his arms.

As the family walked the Boulevard Sabana Grande, they passed long lines at ATMs. In Venezuela, larger transactions are now mostly made by bank card. Financial institutions are rationing cash withdrawals to 10,000 bolívars a day, about 8 cents at the black-market rate. To have enough cash to buy smaller items, many Venezuelans must go to the ATM day after day. 

The Post describes the actual problem and the reason for the problem in, for them, what must be a first:

Venezuelans are calling this “Infeliz Navidad” — Unhappy Christmas — a holiday season devastated by hyperinflation.

Under Chavez, who came to power in 1999, oil-rich Venezuela proclaimed itself a socialist paradise. Industries were nationalized. Government handouts multiplied. 

But Venezuela’s economy no longer works. 

The past six months have brought the kind of shocking price surges that the world last saw in Zimbabwe in 2008. Venezuela hasn’t released official inflation data since 2015. But last month, according to the Caracas-based statistical firm Ecoanalitica, the country slipped into hyperinflation — and hit an annualized rate of nearly 2,000 percent.

Which shows the real wages of socialism up close - the privation, the shortages, the elites getting all they like and the poor left to starve. It's a sad thing that today's U.S. millennial generation which embraces in the idea of socialism so much, has no idea that this is the reality socialism creates. Christmas is a season of abundance and celebrated with giving. For Venezuelans, there is nothing to give.

The story is vivid to me for another reason. I visited several areas of Venezuela around the Christmas of 2005,when anti-socialist sentiment was very strong even then and people were bitter about Chavez's thuggy reaction to an oil strike as well as a stolen recall referendum to throw him out. People hesitated to wear red, even at Christmas because of the association with the communist dictator.

That said, Venezuelans celebrated Christmas exuberantly then, with tinsel, colored lights, Christmas trees, fake snow and Santa Claus, even on government buildings festooned with the Cuban flag. It was all improbably comic because the country is in such a tropical, Caribbean-feeling climate. The country is so tropical it cannot grow corn, which forms the staple flour of its arepa, the national dish, and thus, must import it no matter what kind of government it has. It's so tropical that out on the ranches of the llano, the country's cows are the humpy-backed Brahman kind found in India, because only those cows can handle the heat. One of the Christmas trees in the public square was made of metal, something even the Venezuelans considered a bit annoying because they wanted a real tree.

But the Venezuelans nevertheless made a spirited effort to create a Bavarian-style Christmas all over anyway, and it was fun to see the unique hybrid of a celebration.

The subways in Caracas had nativity scenes. The bus stations had people rushing home to the countryside to be with family during the holidays.

The national dish, the hallaca, which is meat and corn flour wrapped in a banana leaf and tied, fairly similar to the Mexican tamale, takes a great deal of time and effort to create and it's often a family affair to do so. Miguel Octavio, the great blogger at Devil's Excrement, took me to the restaurants to introduce me to the tasty treat.

In downtown Caracas, at one of the main shopping malls, everyone was rushing to get home as Christmas approached. In one taxi line, I recall everyone was carrying a big box of pannetone, the delicious Italian fruitcake bread made during the holidays, and trying to avoid the rain.

The Venezuelans I met said it was harder to do Christmas than in the past ... but obviously, it was nothing like this situation, where celebrating Christmas has no visible element anymore.

What a nasty, hellish gift from socialism this country is enduring. They can't even celebrate Christmas in their traditional way anymore. Compare and contrast to Iraq, which erected its first Christmas tree in years as a way of celebrating the defeat of ISIS.

One can only hope that one day, Venezuela will raise a similar tree to celebrate the defeat of socialism.

 

 

 

The grinch of socialism is visiting Venezuela this year, bearing coal. Scratch that, in Venezuela, coal is too costly - and in short supply. Socialism is bringing to Venezuela utterly nothing and Santa Claus is not being allowed in.

It's going to be a very, very, very bleak holiday in Venezuela as described in this Washington Post report:

Downtown Caracas was once festooned with Christmas lights during the holidays. Now, as Enrique and Viviana strolled with their kids down a major Caracas shopping street, it was devoid of holiday decor.

“It’s like Christmas isn’t even happening this year,” said Enrique, 30, as he carried his 4-year-old, Victoria, in his arms.

As the family walked the Boulevard Sabana Grande, they passed long lines at ATMs. In Venezuela, larger transactions are now mostly made by bank card. Financial institutions are rationing cash withdrawals to 10,000 bolívars a day, about 8 cents at the black-market rate. To have enough cash to buy smaller items, many Venezuelans must go to the ATM day after day. 

The Post describes the actual problem and the reason for the problem in, for them, what must be a first:

Venezuelans are calling this “Infeliz Navidad” — Unhappy Christmas — a holiday season devastated by hyperinflation.

Under Chavez, who came to power in 1999, oil-rich Venezuela proclaimed itself a socialist paradise. Industries were nationalized. Government handouts multiplied. 

But Venezuela’s economy no longer works. 

The past six months have brought the kind of shocking price surges that the world last saw in Zimbabwe in 2008. Venezuela hasn’t released official inflation data since 2015. But last month, according to the Caracas-based statistical firm Ecoanalitica, the country slipped into hyperinflation — and hit an annualized rate of nearly 2,000 percent.

Which shows the real wages of socialism up close - the privation, the shortages, the elites getting all they like and the poor left to starve. It's a sad thing that today's U.S. millennial generation which embraces in the idea of socialism so much, has no idea that this is the reality socialism creates. Christmas is a season of abundance and celebrated with giving. For Venezuelans, there is nothing to give.

The story is vivid to me for another reason. I visited several areas of Venezuela around the Christmas of 2005,when anti-socialist sentiment was very strong even then and people were bitter about Chavez's thuggy reaction to an oil strike as well as a stolen recall referendum to throw him out. People hesitated to wear red, even at Christmas because of the association with the communist dictator.

That said, Venezuelans celebrated Christmas exuberantly then, with tinsel, colored lights, Christmas trees, fake snow and Santa Claus, even on government buildings festooned with the Cuban flag. It was all improbably comic because the country is in such a tropical, Caribbean-feeling climate. The country is so tropical it cannot grow corn, which forms the staple flour of its arepa, the national dish, and thus, must import it no matter what kind of government it has. It's so tropical that out on the ranches of the llano, the country's cows are the humpy-backed Brahman kind found in India, because only those cows can handle the heat. One of the Christmas trees in the public square was made of metal, something even the Venezuelans considered a bit annoying because they wanted a real tree.

But the Venezuelans nevertheless made a spirited effort to create a Bavarian-style Christmas all over anyway, and it was fun to see the unique hybrid of a celebration.

The subways in Caracas had nativity scenes. The bus stations had people rushing home to the countryside to be with family during the holidays.

The national dish, the hallaca, which is meat and corn flour wrapped in a banana leaf and tied, fairly similar to the Mexican tamale, takes a great deal of time and effort to create and it's often a family affair to do so. Miguel Octavio, the great blogger at Devil's Excrement, took me to the restaurants to introduce me to the tasty treat.

In downtown Caracas, at one of the main shopping malls, everyone was rushing to get home as Christmas approached. In one taxi line, I recall everyone was carrying a big box of pannetone, the delicious Italian fruitcake bread made during the holidays, and trying to avoid the rain.

The Venezuelans I met said it was harder to do Christmas than in the past ... but obviously, it was nothing like this situation, where celebrating Christmas has no visible element anymore.

What a nasty, hellish gift from socialism this country is enduring. They can't even celebrate Christmas in their traditional way anymore. Compare and contrast to Iraq, which erected its first Christmas tree in years as a way of celebrating the defeat of ISIS.

One can only hope that one day, Venezuela will raise a similar tree to celebrate the defeat of socialism.