By Eyanir Chinea and Maria Ramirez
CARACAS/CIUDAD GUAYANA, Venezuela (Reuters) – There was no way Jose Ramon Garcia, a food transporter in Venezuela, could afford new tires for his van at $350 each.
Whether he opted to pay in U.S. currency or in the devalued local bolivar currency at the equivalent black market price, Garcia would have had to save up for years.
Though used to expensive repairs, this one was too much and put him out of business. “Repairs cost an arm and a leg in Venezuela,” said the now-unemployed 42-year-old Garcia, who has a wife and two children to support in the southern city of Guayana.
“There’s no point keeping bolivars.”
For a decade and a half, strict exchange controls have severely limited access to dollars. A black market in hard currency has spread in response, and as once-sky-high oil revenue runs dry, Venezuela’s economy is in free-fall.
The practice adopted by gourmet and design stores in Caracas over the last couple of years to charge in dollars to a select group of expatriates or Venezuelans with access to greenbacks is fast spreading.
Food sellers, dental and medical clinics, and others are starting to charge in dollars or their black market equivalent – putting many basic goods and services out of reach for a large number of Venezuelans.
According to the opposition-led National Assembly, November’s rise in prices topped academics’ traditional benchmark for hyperinflation of more than 50 percent a month – and could end the year at 2,000 percent. The government has not published inflation data for more than a year.
“I can’t think in bolivars anymore, because you have to give a different price every hour,” said Yoselin Aguirre, 27, who makes and sells jewelry in the Paraguana peninsula and has recently pegged prices to the dollar. “To survive, you have to dollarize.”
The socialist government of the late president Hugo Chavez in 2003 brought in the strict controls in order to curb capital flight, as the wealthy sought to move money out of Venezuela after a coup attempt and major oil strike the previous year.
Oil revenue was initially able to bolster artificial exchange rates, though the black market grew and now is becoming unmanageable for the government.
TRIM THE TREE WITH BOLIVARS
President Nicolas Maduro has maintained his predecessor’s policies on capital controls. Yet, the spread between the strongest official rate, of some 10 bolivars per dollar, and the black market rate, of around 110,000 per dollar, is now huge.
While sellers see a shift to hard currency as necessary, buyers sometimes blame them for speculating.
Rafael Vetencourt, 55, a steel worker in Ciudad Guayana, needed a prostate operation priced at $250.
“We don’t earn in dollars. It’s abusive to charge in dollars!” said Vetencourt, who had to decimate his savings to pay for the surgery.
In just one year, Venezuela’s currency has weakened 97.5 per cent against the greenback, meaning $1,000 of local currency purchased then would be worth just $25 now.
Maduro blames black market rate-publishing websites such as DolarToday for inflating the numbers, part of an “economic war” he says is designed by the opposition and Washington to topple him.
On Venezuela’s borders with Brazil and Colombia, the prices of imported oil, eggs and wheat flour vary daily in line with the black market price for bolivars.
In an upscale Caracas market, cheese-filled arepas, the traditional breakfast made with corn flour, increased 65 percent in price in just two weeks, according to tracking by Reuters reporters. In the same period, a kilogram of ham jumped a whopping 171 percent.
The runaway prices have dampened Christmas celebrations, which this season were characterized by shortages of pine trees and toys, as well as meat, chicken and cornmeal for the preparation of typical dishes.
In one grim festive joke, a Christmas tree in Maracaibo, the country’s oil capital and second city, was decorated with virtually worthless low-denomination bolivar bills.
Most Venezuelans, earning just $5 a month at the black market rate, are nowhere near being able to save hard currency.
“How do I do it? I earn in bolivars and have no way to buy foreign currency,” said Cristina Centeno, a 31-year-old teacher who, like many, was seeking remote work online before Christmas in order to bring in some hard currency.
(Additional reporting by Andreina Aponte and Leon Wietfeld in Caracas, Mircely Guanipa in Maracay, Anggy Polanco in San Cristobal, Lenin Danieri in Maracaibo; Writing by Girish Gupta; Editing by Leslie Adler)
No Nation Is An Idea
The concept that “America is a timeless placeholder of ideas” is a common talking point that has been in circulation from both Conservative Inc., and the broader American Left for many years now. This saying is typically used as a divergence from addressing important policies as they pertain to mass immigration. Often, it is also used to stifle the growth of an American National Populist movement. Clearly, the unelected elites calling shots around the Western world seek to undermine valid and critical debate of the role of National Populism. Rather than emphasizing the importance of health, stable families, community, housing, and wages, our leaders have an obsession with growing GDP, doing the bidding of predatory crony capitalists who are constantly pushing to import cheap labor, and retaining power for generations to come.
The fact of the matter is, Americans (and humans in general) seek more than cheap, 4k television sets, quirky tupper-ware for last night’s leftovers, and salad shooters that break after a few uses. We are innately spiritual beings who long for community, order, and social cohesion. The United States of America is not an idea… actually, no nation is an idea. As further disorder ensues among the population, the elites have made sure to use their corporate-funded foot soldiers as a means to promote a very new, Neo-Liberal agenda. This agenda is the concept that the beautiful mountains, forests, and lakes of our Nation would mean absolutely nothing without this arbitrary term of “ideas.” The blood, sweat, and tears American workers shed producing automobiles in Michigan, the early mornings for the farmers of Iowa, and the dedicated fishermen of California, all mean nothing if this is but a plot of land where the British came to talk about the importance of small government.
Although we can appreciate the writings of philosophers like John Stuart Mill, John Locke, and Adam Smith, the “marketplace of ideas” means absolutely nothing to people who see the world completely different than you. It is apparent that the philosophy of our ancestors and founding fathers have changed the world. In an American context, the very concepts of things like liberty, freedom of speech, and the right to bear arms should be held in the highest regard. Among Conservatives and the American Right, these values are not even up for debate. Unfortunately, much of Conservative Inc. (who are just liberals who want to keep more of their money) do not recognize (or are blatantly ignorant to) the sacrifices made by the ones who came before them.
To put this into perspective, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk previously stated, “I have loyalty to ideas.” Kirk says, “Of course I love the Grand Canyon. I love the Rocky Mountains. And I love Boston. And I love Chicago. But if all that disappeared, if all I had was ideas, and we were on an island, that’s America. That’s Israel. And that’s what people have to realize, America’s just a placeholder for timeless ideas. And if you fall too in love with, oh, the specific place, and all this…that’s not what it is.” What Kirk fails to recognize is that the physical reality of a Nation is what manifests those very ideas he holds so dear.
Nations are unique, with celebrations and folktales that those who inhabit the land feel relation to. Nations are made up of a people. Nations are traditions. Nations are land, resources, and landmarks. Nations are history – the good, the bad, and the ugly. No Nation is an idea.
The ‘Alt-Lite’ Has No Answers For Real Conservatives, Ask More Questions
As was with the answer to my Demographics question by Charlie Kirk on October 23rd (the third “Groyper” question of them all), insufficient, so is the entire ‘grifter right’ and gateway keepers answers on the right to legitimate concerns of Americans across the spectrum, left or right. Global, corporate, and government sponsored legal immigration, mass migration, demographic changes in Western Countries, the destruction of the Christian Religion, the Family, and the decrease in the value of labor.
— Pop Wire (@populist_wire) October 24, 2019
— Pop Wire (@populist_wire) October 24, 2019
Charlie Kirk embodies the 21st century establishment Libertarian side of the Republican party, being an ex-libertarian I can see how it’s appealing. However, as much as it is appealing it is even more destructive to our culture and politics than perhaps progressives. Giving up on key issues such as abortion, morals, religion, demographics, free trade, and open borders.
This is a fairly new hive-mind of new and old Republican talking points, however this ‘Corporate’ or ‘Conservative Inc.’ style control over the conversation on the right is leading us back into the same problems with middle of the ground “Conservative” leaders like John McCain and Mitt Romney, you can see the Alt-Lite gearing up to endorse Nikki Haley or Dan Crenshaw to be President in 2024. Attempting to usurp and hop on the Populist Wave Trump rode in on.
The same host of Never-Trumpers who now play ball as Trump supporters only to not be completely tarnished by Trump’s Populist base, are seething at the idea that the actual Conservative Right, who wishes to actually conserve Western Culture & Christian Values in America, instead of making this a “place holder” for Wood Stock and Wall-Street Culture, to continue to sacrifice the American Middle Class. This is also the same class of people who endlessly call for Wars in the Middle East at the behest of Israel, Saudi Arabia, etc, and criticize Trump on a regular basis of his “liberal” handling on the Middle East, aka withdrawing our Troops, and as Trump declares, “without a drop of blood.” Something that must really get the blood boiling of the Neo-Con Establishment.
— ZOA National (@ZOA_National) November 1, 2019
It is ever imperative we make sure this establishment force within the Republican Party is shut out and completely shunned into the corner of Politics, along with failed trade deals, endless overseas wars, bail outs of the elites, and a slew of other misguided policies. The only way to keep these sell outs on their toes is to always ask them questions that can ultimately either continually expose their hypocrisy, or open their eyes to the truth, otherwise they will attempt to continue to use the “leftist” tactics of smear campaigns, silencing you, get you fired, etc. It is not so different from the Antifa tactics that are used of the far left.
why does everyone who hates nick fuentes look like this pic.twitter.com/Vutu1dYZRx
— SNOWpai~ ⛄🎄 (@stembrandt) November 3, 2019
We’ve posted the graphic below of the continued “Groyper Wars” events and will be continuing the coverage of this:
Bill Maher Defends Kavanaugh
On his show Friday night, Bill Maher and his panel got into a heated debate over the “new” allegations about Brett Kavanaugh – yes, the ones even his accuser can’t remember. Maher even turned on his liberal comrades, adopting the position that rehashing events from when Kavanaugh was 17 years old hurt the Democrats in 2018… and could hurt them again.
Citing polling from 2018, Maher said that Democrats could have done better in the midterm elections had it not been for the Kavanaugh hearings: “People did not like going after a guy for what he did in high school. It looked bad and now Democrats are talking about impeaching him again?” Maher said.
Guest Andrew Sullivan seemed to agree. “He probably did some shitty things in high school drunk,” he said.
And when liberal guest Heather McGhee tried to jump in, asking “May the woman please speak about what this felt like?”, Sullivan shot her down immediately: “Please don’t play that card. You’re making my point.”
When Kavanaugh’s temperament was brought up, Sullivan responded: “You try maintaining a good temperament when you’re being accused of something, you had no idea it was coming at you, came at the last minute, and that happened years and years and years ago.”
As McGhee tried to make the point that being a Supreme Court justice isn’t just a “normal job”, Maher immediately fired back: “So you’re saying at 17 you have to have your fully formed character?”
He continued: “Live in reality, man! That’s who they put up. We don’t have the votes, and now we lost seats! Are we gonna do it again? Ruth Bader Ginsburg said glowing things about him… What were you like at 17?”