July 18, 2016

UNEXPECTEDLY: Venezuela’s inflation is set to top 1,600% next year.

A shortage of medical supplies means infants and other sick patients are dying of treatable illnesses. Soldiers guard empty grocery store shelves. Inflation is so bad, the government has had to order bolivars by the planeload.

As Caracas extends its declared state of economic emergency, it’s no wonder many economists say the nation will soon have to ask the IMF for a bailout. It’s gotten so bad, the government this week handed over control of food stocks to the military, ceding even more power to the armed forces.

And:

Thursday. My day of the week to buy staples. I head over to the local supermarket just after 10 a.m. Sixty people or so are waiting outside. They’ve come from all over the city, especially the poorer neighborhoods where food is scarcest, to stand in line. No one knows anything: what time the regulated goods will be put up for sale; which items, if any, will be offered; nothing. They just wait, doggedly, under the blistering Caribbean sun.

“This is the line of hope,” one woman says to me. “We are hoping they have something to sell us.” Nice. A little bit of gallows humor. I laugh. A couple hours later, though, with the line still at a standstill, I’m out of hope. I abandon my spot and walk away.

Socialism is about caring.

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