While Hugo Chavez receives excellent care in Cuba, the real picture of day to day life in Venezuela emerges. In the supermarkets and government-owned food outlets there is a scarcity of basic goods. Of the 16 price regulated food goods 10 were scarce. No cooking oils or regulated cuts of meat, cheeses or corn flour were available for the Venezuela shopper.
The easy money policy of the Bank Of Venezuela has stoked high inflation even with price controls levied by the Chavez government. Personal care products are up 30% and hoarding has become a serious issue. Non-alcoholic beverages have climbed 22% over the same 12 month period.
The real impact of Chavez-nomics has been more devastating in the hospitals and lives of the doctors that have not fled the country. Of those that have stayed to work in crime ridden hospitals, their salary is a mere 2,600 bolivars or the equivalent of $325 a month. Patients show up in the private hospitals with government sponsored insurance that the insurer does not fulfill its obligation to pay. 130,000 patients are waiting for basic surgery.
Pharmaceutical companies and importers are laying low, loath to complain of rising costs and shortages of basic medicines like aspirin, afraid of being nationalized by the Chavez government. Large companies that offend Chavez have been targets of nationalization. – Background information provided by Mary O”Grady
Mary O’Grady is a member of the editorial board at The Wall Street Journal and writes editorial columns on Latin America, trade and international economics. She is also editor of “The Americas,” a weekly column that appears every Monday and deals with politics, economics and business in Latin America and Canada.