As Venezuela’s inflation rate continues to skyrocket and the socialist regime of President Nicolás Maduro clamps down even tighter on food rationing, a new allegation has emerged from opposition congresswoman Neidy Rosal: Maduro’s administration began hoarding over 131,000 tons of imported food in August in an attempt to control the upcoming December elections.
Rosal recently told the PanAm Post that the price of food and basic items has dropped significantly in the past seven months, compared to the prices of these items a year earlier. Despite the fact that most foreign manufacturers have refused to import items into Venezuela due to the inflation of the country’s currency, the bolivar, Rosal stated that Maduro’s administration has somehow managed to import food from Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and the U.S.
Rosal stated that the administration is storing the food in various ports across the country’s border; this facade, according to Rosal, is the government’s way of convincing citizens that widespread food shortages are coming to an end.
Of course, the timing of this staged production is no coincidence.
“It happens just before elections, to supposedly show that the government is fighting the economic war, and that closing the border [to Colombia] was worth it,” Rosal told the PanAm Post. “But those are all lies.”
Rosal discovered, back in 2011, that Maduro’s administration had been holding 160,000 tons of rotten food in the Puerto Cabello port — and she’s worried that the same thing will happen again, except on a larger scale and with even fewer items on grocery store shelves.
While many American families are worried about spending too much on their grocery bills, most Venezuelans feel lucky if they’re able to find more than a few items at one time in the grocery store. Inflation has bubbled up so quickly (64% in 2014, according to Yahoo! News) that a Venezuelan family of five needs approximately 28,363 bolivars to purchase one month’s worth of food, which is approximately equal to $40 USD.
Just a few years ago, the bolivar was roughly equal to the U.S. dollar. And within just one year, the cost of basic food items has increased by approximately 300%.
It may sound bad to Americans that 40% of families in the U.S. struggle to spend less than they earn, but in Venezuela, the average family now needs 3.8 minimum-wage jobs to cover basic costs.
This all ties back to the problem of Maduro hoarding so much food, since food prices can only decrease if more food is available, and Venezuelans can only go back to their daily routines (including work) if they don’t have to spend hours queuing in grocery store lines.
It’s unknown how Maduro’s administration will react to Rosal’s allegations, but she stated that she hopes the Venezuelan people will hold the government accountable for its actions come elections in December.