How Venezuela’s Maduro Controls Starving Voters with Food
The socialist country Venezuela has been on the verge of a collapse for years.
The dire state in the country has morphed into not only an economic, but also a political and humanitarian crisis.
The living conditions in Venezuela have gradually become more disastrous. Inflation is expected to reach 13,000 percent this year, grocery stores are empty, and businesses and factories have had to close down.
90 percent of Venezuelans don’t have enough money to purchase food.
Although Venezuelans have made it clear that they are unhappy with Maduro’s leadership, he is likely going to get a majority of the citizen’s votes.
“If I didn’t vote, there would be trouble, I was told,” said Sara Meza to Wall Street Journal. “They are playing with people’s hunger.”
“A 32-year-old teacher, she’s fed up with President Nicolás Maduro’s government. Her salary has fallen to the equivalent of $2 a month with Venezuela’s currency collapse. She struggles to feed her 10-year-old son and is unable to treat the small tumor on her breast because the health-care system is in shambles,” writes the WSJ. “Still, Ms. Meza voted for the ruling Socialist Party in recent mayoral elections, fearing that otherwise she would have lost her state job and benefits—especially the monthly bags of rice, corn flour and other subsidized food she says keeps her family alive. She also plans to vote for Mr. Maduro in the May 20 presidential election.”
Maduro’s administration has about a 22 percent approval rating, but he remains in power by using fear tactics and by controlling voters with the limited food supply.
“It’s criminal,” said Maritza Landaeta, head of the Bengoa Foundation to WSJ. “The same people that asphyxiated the food industry and generated the shortages are now using food as a political tool.”
“About 3.5 million of Venezuela’s 6 million homes receive boxes of food through the military-run Local Committee for Supply and Production, according to pollster Delphos. That program—known by its Spanish initials, CLAP—is the main food source for 15% of Venezuelans, according to Caracas’s Catholic University,” writes WSJ.
“Stamped with the faces of Maduro and Chavez, the CLAP boxes usually contain rice, pasta, grains, cooking oil, powdered milk, canned tuna and other basic goods. Recipients pay 25,000 bolivars per box, or about $0.12 at the black market rate. That is a godsend in a country where the minimum monthly wage is less than $2 at that rate – and would be swallowed up by two boxes of eggs or a small tin of powdered milk,” writes Reuters.
However, these boxes aren’t delivered regularly and the pricing is also inconsistent.
“They (the government) don’t care about the food issue, just about getting people something to eat while they get through the elections,” said Susana Raffalli, a consultant with charity Caritas to Reuters.
Prior to the elections, Maduro strategically ramps up these “hand-outs.”
“In November, a month ahead of the mayoral elections, Mr. Maduro offered pork joints to voters. Weeks later, with people struggling to pay for goods amid hyperinflation, he promised voters cash bonuses. And then on election day, with turnout slumping, he enticed voters with what he said would be a special gift. It was unclear what the gift was, although many voters did get boxes of food. To receive benefits, the government is increasingly requiring citizens to hold new identification cards, which authorities say have been issued to about half of Venezuela’s 30 million people,” writes WSJ.
These cards also act as a way for Maduro’s government to track who has and hasn’t voted. Government patrollers will visit the homes of those receiving benefits and “urge” them to vote.
The government even gave out food at polling stations or told the voters where to pick up food during the previous election.
“With an economy that is destroyed, every day Venezuelans become more dependent on the state,” said Henrique Capriles, a two-time presidential candidate who is longer allowed to hold office. “If you’re not loyal you don’t eat.”
Maduro has also barred Capriles and his other opposition candidates from running.
“I don’t want to be part of that so-called official opposition,” said Capriles. “This country stopped being a democracy a while ago. I never thought Maduro would take things this far.”
Author’s note: Maduro will do whatever he has to keep control, even if he has to starve his citizens and then buy their support with food. There is no way he will lose this election because as we saw in the last set of elections, the elections are rigged.
Editor’s note: Venezuela needs to learn the value of revolution…