As Venezuela continues to fall into economic ruin with food and other basic necessities in short supply, President Maduro declared war on public enemy number one, the culprits responsible for the crisis starving his people: bakers.
On March 14, Maduro published Plan 700, which sent hundreds of inspectors to bakeries across Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, to ensure that the suspected businesses were not “speculating or hiding wheat flour.”
As Reuters reported, Maduro’s order goes beyond just speculation and hoarding. Plan 700 states that “90 percent of the wheat flour must be used for price-regulated salted bread, and not expensive loaves and cakes.”
The latest assault yielded victories when the National Superintendent for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights, local governmental offices, and the Bolivarian National Armed Forces arrested four bakers for selling sweets in contradiction to the government order.
In a press report, the Office of the Superintendent of Fair Prices stated that two of the offending bakers “were responsible for the preparation and commercialization of brownies with wheat flour.”
This latest farce by Maduro’s government shows how extreme his government and the socialists are willing to go to continue the failed economic and political doctrine of the late Hugo Chavez, who advocated state control at the expense of the free market.
The economic collapse of Venezuela is a casebook example of the perils Dutch disease and too much state control over the economy.
When oil prices were high, Venezuela appeared to be a model of poverty reduction. Chavez’s antipoverty programs aided millions of his loyal countrymen who reelected him with overwhelming majorities.
As with other countries afflicted with Dutch disease, the influx of foreign currencies from oil sales strengthened the Venezuelan bolivar. The strong domestic currency lowered the price of imports which decimated local industries, especially in the agricultural sector. State expropriation and control provided the killing blow to any semblance of a functioning free market.
With the death of Hugo Chavez and the collapse of global oil prices, the cracks in the economic and political structure became too deep, and Venezuela started to crumble.
The policies of the socialist governments of Chavez and Maduro have failed Venezuela. Their regimes are an infection in a country teetering on the brink of ruin.
Plan 700 is another gasping breath of a dying regime that believed it could control the economy, just as the Soviets believed that they could control the economy. Maduro’s latest gambit will further damage the local market in Venezuela.
Venezuela needs leaders and policies that recognize the crisis cannot be solved through the outdated and misguided methods of Chavismo. Rather, Venezuela must look to its neighbors and the international community to end the crushing inflation and rebuild its economy.
Unfortunately, Plan 700 shows that as long as Maduro remains in power the Venezuelan economy, Chavismo lives on.
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