Monday, 20 June 2016

Venezuela - A Nation of Beauty Queens; Now A Nation of Hungers! Who will have thought this will happened?

“It was all a new reality for Gabriel Márquez, 24, who grew up in the boom years when Venezuela was rich and empty shelves were unimaginable.”

Read below news and you will be shocked that this is happening to a country that used to be extremely prosperous.

Venezuela had once the world's largest oil reserves and had been one of the world's leading exporters of oil. Besides, it is also the country which also produced many beauty queens!  TODAY it is in riot for food. In 2015, Venezuela had the world's highest inflation rate with the rate surpassing 100%, becoming the highest in the country's history.

THIS IS REAL AND NOT IMAGINARY!

Venezuela’s woes are results of years of DEFICIT SPENDING from populist policies leading to overspending on social programs and over-reliance on oil funds. 

As from Ray Dalio’s economic principles, very often a situation like this will lead to the poor resenting the rich and riots will take place. And the most worrying is that it will then lead to a dictator coming in power just like Hitler during the WW2.

Perhaps Venezuela too insignificant a country to have a big impact to the global economy. 

How about USA?


UMANÁ, Venezuela — With delivery trucks under constant attack, the nation’s food is now transported under armed guard. Soldiers stand watch over bakeries. The police fire rubber bullets at desperate mobs storming grocery stores, pharmacies and butcher shops. A 4-year-old girl was shot to death as street gangs fought over food.

Venezuela is convulsing from hunger.

Hundreds of people here in the city of Cumaná, home to one of the region’s independence heroes, marched on a supermarket in recent days, screaming for food. They forced open a large metal gate and poured inside. They snatched water, flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, potatoes, anything they could find, leaving behind only broken freezers and overturned shelves.

And they showed that even in a country with the largest oil reserves in the world, it is possible for people to riot because there is not enough food.

In the last two weeks alone, more than 50 food riots, protests and mass looting have erupted around the country. Scores of businesses have been stripped bare or destroyed. At least five people have been killed.

This is precisely the Venezuela its leaders vowed to prevent.

In one of the nation’s worst moments, riots spread from Caracas, the capital, in 1989, leaving hundreds dead at the hands of security forces. Known as the “Caracazo,” or the “Caracas clash,” they were set off by low oil prices, cuts in subsidies and a population that was suddenly impoverished.

The event seared the memory of a future president, Hugo Chávez, who said the country’s inability to provide for its people, and the state’s repression of the uprising, were the reasons Venezuela needed a socialist revolution.

Now his successors find themselves in a similar bind — or maybe even worse.

The nation is anxiously searching for ways to feed itself.

The economic collapse of recent years has left it unable to produce enough food on its own or import what it needs from abroad. Cities have been militarized under an emergency decree from President Nicolás Maduro, the man Mr. Chávez picked to carry on with his revolution before he died three years ago.

“If there is no food, there will be more riots,” said Raibelis Henriquez, 19, who waited all day for bread in Cumaná, where at least 22 businesses were attacked in a single day last week.

But while the riots and clashes punctuate the country with alarm, it is the hunger that remains the constant source of unease.

A staggering 87 percent of Venezuelans say they do not have money to buy enough food, the most recent assessment of living standards by Simón Bolívar University found.

About 72 percent of monthly wages are being spent just to buy food, according to the Center for Documentation and Social Analysis, a research group associated with the Venezuelan Teachers Federation.

In April, it found that a family would need the equivalent of 16 minimum-wage salaries to properly feed itself.

Ask people in this city when they last ate a meal, and many will respond that it was not today.

Among them are Leidy Cordova, 37, and her five children — Abran, Deliannys, Eliannys, Milianny and Javier Luis — ages 1 to 11. On Thursday evening, the entire family had not eaten since lunchtime the day before, when Ms. Cordova made a soup by boiling chicken skin and fat that she had found for a cheap price at the butcher.

“My kids tell me they’re hungry,” Ms. Cordova said as her family looked on. “And all I can say to them is to grin and bear it.”

Other families have to choose who eats. Lucila Fonseca, 69, has lymphatic cancer, and her 45-year-old daughter, Vanessa Furtado, has a brain tumor. Despite also being ill, Ms. Furtado gives up the little food she has on many days so her mother does not skip meals.

“I used to be very fat, but no longer,” the daughter said. “We are dying as we live.”

Her mother added, “We are now living on Maduro’s diet: no food, no nothing.”

Economists say years of economic mismanagement — worsened by low prices for oil, the nation’s main source of revenue — have shattered the food supply.

Sugar fields in the country’s agricultural center lie fallow for lack of fertilizers. Unused machinery rots in shuttered state-owned factories. Staples like corn and rice, once exported, now must be imported and arrive in amounts that do not meet the need.

In response, Mr. Maduro has tightened his grip over the food supply. Using emergency decrees he signed this year, the president put most food distribution in the hands of a group of citizen brigades loyal to leftists, a measure critics say is reminiscent of food rationing in Cuba.

“They’re saying, in other words, you get food if you’re my friend, if you’re my sympathizer,” said Roberto Briceño-León, the director of the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, a human rights group.

It was all a new reality for Gabriel Márquez, 24, who grew up in the boom years when Venezuela was rich and empty shelves were unimaginable. He stood in front of the destroyed supermarket where the mob had arrived at Cumaná, an endless expanse of smashed bottles, boxes and scattered shelves. A few people, including a policeman, were searching the wreckage for leftovers to take.

“During Carnival, we used to throw eggs at each other just to have some fun,” he said. “Now an egg is like gold.”

Down the coastal road in a small fishing town called Boca de Uchire, hundreds gathered on a bridge this month to protest because the food deliveries were not arriving. Residents demanded to meet the mayor, but when he did not come they sacked a Chinese bodega.

Residents hacked open the door with pickaxes and pillaged the shop, venting their anger at a global power that has lent billions of dollars to prop up Venezuela in recent years.

“We are now living on Maduro’s diet: no food, no nothing.” LUCILA FONSECA, 69

“The Chinese won’t sell to us,” said a taxi driver who watched the crowd haul away all that was inside. “So we burn their stores instead.”

Mr. Maduro, who is fighting a push for a referendum to recall him this year over the country’s declines, said it was the political opposition that was behind the attacks on the stores.

“They paid a group of criminals, brought them in trucks,” he said on Saturday on television, promising compensation to those who lost property.

At the same time, the government also blames an “economic war” for the shortages. It accuses wealthy business owners of hoarding food and charging exorbitant prices, creating artificial shortages to profit from the country’s misery.

It has left shop owners feeling under siege, particularly those who do not have Spanish names.

“Look how we are working today,” said Maria Basmagi, whose family immigrated from Syria a generation ago, pointing to the metal grate pulled over the window of her shoe store.

Her shop was on the commercial boulevard in Barcelona, another coastal town racked by unrest last week. At 11 a.m. the day before, someone screamed that there was an attack on a government-run kitchen nearby. Every shop on Ms. Basmagi’s street closed down in fear.

Other shops stay open, like the bakery in Cumaná where a line of 100 people snaked around a corner. Each person was allowed to buy about a pound of bread.

Robert Astudillo, a 23-year-old father of two, was not sure there would be any left once his turn came. He said he still had corn flour to make arepas, a Venezuelan staple, for his children. They had not eaten meat in months.

“We make the arepas small,” he said.

In the refrigerator of Araselis Rodriguez and Nestor Daniel Reina, the parents of four small children, there was not even corn flour — just a few limes and some bottles of water.

The family had eaten bread for breakfast and soup for lunch made from fish that Mr. Reina had managed to catch. The family had nothing for dinner.

It has not always been clear what provokes the riots. Is it hunger alone? Or is it some larger anger that has built up in a country that has crumbled?

Inés Rodríguez was not sure. She remembered calling out to the crowd of people who had come to sack her restaurant on Tuesday night, offering them all the chicken and rice the restaurant had if they would only leave the furniture and cash register behind. They balked at the offer and simply pushed her aside, Ms. Rodríguez said.

“It is the meeting of hunger and crime now,” she said.

As she spoke, three trucks with armed patrols drove by, each emblazoned with photos of Mr. Chávez and Mr. Maduro.

The trucks were carrying food.


“Finally they come here,” Ms. Rodríguez said. “And look what it took to get them. It took this riot to get us something to eat.”

A Message To My Children: 

Hereby, I will like to tell you kids NEVER to take things for granted just because you are Singaporeans living in a country well-sheltered like Singapore. Our success is not a coincident. Please have your eyes and ears wide open about the world outside Singapore. If possible, go out and experience the world, in particular that of developing countries (e.g. the poorer places of India, South America, China, Indonesia, Africa etc). You will then realise that Singapore is not the typical country you will find on this earth. Your father was lucky enough to travel to many of these countries and also spoke to the natives. Exposures can be one of the greatest gifts in life for you to have a better understanding of yourself and this world, and hence your life. 


34 comments:

  1. Beautiful. All should be reminded of this. Singaporeans are really too naive in their thinking

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous,

      thank you for the compliment.

      It can be a bit harsh or hurtful to say Singaporeans are naive. Nonetheless, it can be quite true. :-)

      Most S'poreans are really too sheltered and always think that this is Singapore and we will be just fine! Perhaps our wealth and people talents today can last us for another good 30 years even being just average, but thereafter I am starting to worry! We can be fallen into the same trap that raid other used-to-be prosperous nations.

      Delete
  2. Hi Rolf,
    Why do you only highlight the US? Deficit spending is trending strongly and happening everywhere incl China and Japan.
    In a finite world, infinite growth - and with growth I mean growth in debts - cannot continue forever. Who is going to pay the price for our unsustainable behaviour? I am afraid it might be us at old age or if we are 'lucky' our next generation.
    Luckily your kids are way better prepared than most. I really do admire you how you always have your kids in mind when you blog.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Andy,

      Hehe….I get what you mean. Thanks for highlighting.

      This is because today USA is still the strongest economy in the world, therefore I just use them as a metaphor. If the strongest meets with mishaps, the impact will be biggest.

      Oh Oh Oh…. I totally agree with you. Japan, China, EU, everywhere….Indonesia also plan to loosen. Negative interest rate, this never happen in the history of mankind before…. Do we really think it makes sense?

      Many thought Singapore is extremely strong financially. We will be just fine even if US, China or Japan collapse. I almost fainted when I hear how ignorant people here can blathered always that “Sg will just be fine, w/o any concern!”

      Yes, this may be true for our govt. for a limited number of years because of our first generation leaders. How about our current and next and next generation leaders? We need to evaluate if they really have what it takes to make us as good as before or now?

      For the short term now, we can also take a good look at our household debt, it is extremely high and many did not realise this! Debt/income ratios are close to or above 150% in Singapore and Malaysia and are well above 100% in Thailand," said ICAEW.

      Any sneeze from USA, China and Japan, many in Singapore will be in a big trouble!

      As for my kids, one main reason why I started this blog is mainly for them (and public readers) and not really for myself. So this is my main motivation behind blogging here. Perhaps this motivation is important and more sustainable than me just wanting to be rich from investing.

      I am sure you will do the same for your family members!

      Delete
    2. Singapore being small on a global scale but having a trading volume with that globe in excess of 300% of our GDP can hardly ignore what is going on beyond our borders.

      Delete
    3. Hi Andy,

      Indeed our success depends largely on external (big picture), then couples with internal efficiency providing top class services/gds.

      There is a saying: in the past, the world, there are >180-190 ships with their own captains. Today the world is one big ship with 196 cabins and WITHOUT A CAPTAIN!



      Delete
  3. Hi Rolf,

    Venezuela?
    What?
    Where?
    "Woo Ah Ne A Tye Chi Meh?

    Your main motivation of speaking the "truth" to open the eyes and ears of people can hurt or frighten some fragile and sensitive souls.
    When times are good & the streets & buildings seems painted with gold, we tend to believe it's forever the same.
    That's the main problem with us or most human beings.

    Suddenly i think the time when we are ask to think in terms of "TOTAL DEFENCE " for Singapore.
    Where the "PSYCHE" of the people is emphasized.
    Where have "Total Defence" gone to?
    Or Most Singaporeans are prepared to take the first flight out?
    Especially for the rich and "Elites?
    The masses how?

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    Replies
    1. Hi temp,

      Ya lor "bo wa kai tye chi!" so common bcos pple r all becoming colder with the advance of IT... hehe...

      I totally agree with you.

      Yes, total defence is so important no matter how small we are. Not just about war but also internal conflict.

      Culture of country may make a diff in terms of crisis. If JAPAN is in same situation in Venezuela now in terms of financial situation, maybe their COMRADESHIP will make a difference?

      All I know is during Fukushima nuclear accident, the Japanese display clear comradeship.

      Hopefully Singapore will not ever see a depression but if yes, I really hope Singaporeans can have the Comradeship as well. I think we can do it, bcos somehow it's in our traits I choose to believe.

      The rich and the elites hmm... maybe they r gone long before bcos they already anticipates!

      Delete
    2. Yes it's confirmed that the very rich have families spread all over "SEA" - Some as far as Europe or America.

      Delete
  4. Hi rolf

    I do not think that i am harsh. Youngsters only seem to be on the phone and is not interested in what is happening around. They only look forward to a yolo life without wanting to put any effort. They grow up with a maid. Where are the days where ppl are good at cooking and handycraft ? I see it as a global ussue with the smart phone. Sorry for ranting but i really get pissed off seeing all ppl on their phones at all times. This is so even at work. They can watch dramma while working. Watapp while working.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi,

      I like your directness and I can't agree more that smart phones are seriously not improving our lives much as a whole.
      We need the old school types of work to stimulate a community spirit where human touch is more abundant!

      Yes, a lot of time our life is almost wasted again with all these smart phone apps, Facebook, games n leisure videos all the time.

      For those who work hard even worst! Many of us use to have free time outside work! Now with smart phone at 10/11pm, ur boss will text u "did u see that email... Bla Bla bla..."

      Ur mind is all day on work..

      Delete
  5. Joseph's Cycles? Up and down of a nation. Just long and how stretch is each cycle,

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    Replies
    1. CW, yes it's like Shemitah by Jonathan Cahn.

      http://www.rolfsuey.com/2015/09/hazy-outlook-ahead-cash-as-hedge.html?m=1

      Delete
  6. Your gold and silver will be useful here.

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    1. Dun be surprised gold may dip below $1000 n silver may dip $10 bcos there still be many manipulations of monetary policies by central bankers to push up the dollars.

      All I believe is not the pricing of gold or silver will go up. it's a believe that it's a store of real monetary value in history of mankind. We cannot predict what the govts or central banks ll do!

      Delete
  7. Your post reminded me of a fascinating report on Venezuela that stated that as a result of the food rationing, people are only allowed to buy a specific amount of certain items on each day, so you may have queued up for 2 hours to buy rice, only to find that only diapers are left. Do you still buy it?

    Yes! Citizens have banded together to form categorised chat groups (WhatsApp etc) to employ a rather primitive concept of bartering items. 1 pack of diapers for 1 kg of flour etc, and the groups are so well-run that there are operating hours so as not to be disturbed by the flood of notifications during night-time etc. Really amazed by how people adapt to the tough times.

    So, back to the topic. I think Singapore is an anomaly, we are all fighting hard to stay as an anomaly, but you never know. Your exposure has given you valuable perspectives. Makes me envious.

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    1. Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for the compliments. I have still a long way to go n long list to learn. As long as we improve 1% a day it's still good.

      Exposures r obtained by
      1) reading n awareness (good but not good enough)
      2) talking to pple (impt to have human touch n not just virtual - lacking big time today)
      3) doing or being there experiencing (most impt bcos this is where we know what we do not know, fail, PAIN n improve!

      That is why I I want to convey this message of exposures to my children.

      The whatsapp group is good initiative only when the culture of the country has comradeship as I mentioned in my earlier comment.

      Problem is when u r so hungry, u no longer queue n just snatches! Our survivor instinct prevails above all!

      The "have nots" will resent the "haves" n even the "haves (rich)" will soon rob off their riches, if not being beaten to death.

      Soln: Not to fret!!! It's the ability to see things happening early ahead of the masses! So many smart Americans have already left their country to reside in other parts of the world - Jim Rogers, Marc Faber, Richard Duncan etc

      Delete
  8. Hi Rolf,

    Thanks for the good read. Anyway, don't ask your kids go China because they treat all guests with excessive food to show 'face', haha!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jes,
      Thanks for the good advice. Anyway I had done business with many chinese for more than a decade now, excessive food is good isn't it.

      It's the "bai jiu!" that is more killing.

      The new chinese generation (born after 1980) is different nowadays. By the time my kids grow up this 80s pple will be the boss n I believe the culture will change dramatically.

      Delete
  9. Rolf;

    We are indeed blessed. So count our blessings. But some just keep whining and grumbling. Damn irritating ...

    But cannot say it as it is, because we will be label disrespectful

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    Replies
    1. Hi SI,

      Have to agree with you about the whining and grumbling esp seeing more on social media comments.

      Maybe it's a way to vent out the stress air who they initially dun really meant it so seriously. But then again, sometimes the more we rant, after awhile it becomes like a habit which can be quite harmful.

      For me, I will say it if eventually what I say will actually "awakens" those still not sober n for benefit of greater good. But if what I say i know will make v little difference (depending on who's the audience), I will prefer to keep mum instead!

      Delete
  10. Hi Rolf,

    It just so happen that I recently chanced upon a video on the current Venezuela situation; and it scares me when I realise that a country stability can change overnight.

    If even a resource rich country like Venezuela can end up in such situation, what is there to stop Singapore from doing so?

    Good governance? If so, then it's even scarier when a significant number of Singaporeans espouse populist social policy put up by "certain" party to garner support. Who's gonna pay for these proposed social program? Our kids?

    Btw, im not a pro-pap (I voted for oppo before:p) supporter as they have their shortcomings too. I just prefer to choose the lesser evil for our leaders.

    Oops. I have no inclination to turn this into a political rant. Sorry 😬

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    1. Investment bloggers are likely to ask "where does the money come from?" :-)

      Delete
    2. From all of us lol!
      Ants , grasshoppers, butterflies & moths.
      Must always remember Gs of the world actually produce nothing.
      If the people don't produce, where got money for the G to hand back some of your collective money back to you.

      We better pray our G will be anti-corruption all the way.
      And the people of Singapore knows we can not stop working, we have nothing but people.
      There is "NO FREE LUNCH" anywhere in the World man!

      Delete
    3. Free lunch and breakfast?

      Come to Nativity Church Centre.

      But; not really free. Actually it is sponsored meals by donors.

      Same as Government's freebies. They are from taxpayers.

      Delete
    4. Hi PP,

      if it is a political rant, I will moderate. So far this comment still ok. I am balanced between ruling and opposition party also, just like u and what the usa election called "swing" votes!

      Which video is that, maybe I will take a look and ask my children to watch also.

      Yea... lesser of the evil. The problem comes when economy is down n pple lives become difficult n this is when we tend to be more blinded bcos we r focus on ourselves only n our own survival. This is when someone even evil (like Hitler) is able to manipulate.

      So evil or not, depending on situation can be sometimes difficult to tell.

      Delete
    5. Hi Rolf,

      Oops! Glad I made that disclaimer right at the end then:p

      It's a Hong Kong program where the group went to Venezuela and interviewed its people. Can't seem to find it on YouTube but a quick search will show a ton of similar program able Venezuela though.

      Oh yes. We have the chance to choose the lesser evil now because we are still in good shape. Afterall, the Nazis were not a strong political party until the Germans underwent hardship.

      Talking about the Germans reminds me of Brexit! Interesting times again. I'm quite curious how it'll pan out eventually🤔

      Delete
    6. Hi Rolf,

      I found the program! Lol.

      It's titled "世界零距离2".

      I happen to catch another episode on it just now. And it's not a HK program. It's a TW program.

      Opss 😂

      Delete
    7. Hi PP,

      I watched the video you recommended. Thank you, it is really educational and let us understand perception vs reality.

      Unfortunately it is in Cantonese and I am not as fluent and trying hard to keep up reading the chinese character. :-)

      Delete
  11. Ya lor, a lot of pple working in the civil service actually forgotten that their money is actaully from partly tax payers.

    When I go back reservist, u can see everyone is driving Mercs, BMW, Audi. A camp mate who is in civil service also changed Mercs after Mercs. A frd of mine not from rich family n just an assoc director in govt sector is driving 7 series.

    Actaully the pay scale in stat board I kind of know the band too.. for some, it's really imbalance in terms of car to their income or even title.

    Do not mistaken I never jealous, but imagine, soldiers, police, civil defence, customs people all driving Mercs n BMW... which is what happens now.

    The image portrayed is really not good. Civil servants taking for granted tax payers money n spend luxuriously thinking that public sector is far more impt than private sector...

    I jokingly tell a frd that actaully not good if he is in uniform sector to drive all these luxurious car... bcos I m partly funding his income... he asked me go tell our ministers lor!

    oh dear....

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    1. Yeah... CW, everyone think that as long as from "Ah Gong" it's free!

      I am worrying that one day, u will only find Singaporeans working in civil service n private sectors investments will start flowing out of the country if they can no longer attract talents!

      Delete
  12. Hi rolf

    Just a note to say i like your post. Keep them going on. I can learn so much :)

    ReplyDelete