Monday, April 25, 2016
Just about anybody who reads the newspapers is (or ought to be) aware that Trinidad's closest neighbor has completely collapsed economically. Venezuela is now officially a complete and utter economic basket case with its currency being unofficially devalued on a daily basis on the black market (the official rate of exchange is such a joke that nobody even bothers to quote it any more). Last week the black market rate was in the region of US$1 being able to buy more than Bolivars 1,150!! Inflation is running at around 700 percent and basic things like toilet paper and women's feminine products are scarce. Manufacturing has collapsed ... last week Polar, the country's largest beer manufacturer said that it would stop making beer! Eggs and milk are in short supply. And I mean short supply!!
The electricity supply is now so bad that Government offices are now closing on Fridays in order to conserve the supply. And this is in addition to power cuts averaging 4 hours a day in the capital city Caracas. Many private offices are also closing on Fridays as well. In other words, productivity in this most unfortunate South American country has gone to hell in a basket.
Shopping for groceries can only be done on alternative days and your fingerprints have to be taken before you are let in the store. Crime is completely out of control. Its so bad over there that Venezuelans who come over here are surprised at how much we complain about our own crime rate. 'Yours is nothing', they say with something approaching scorn. 'You should see ours!' And in comparative terms they are right! Most people do not even wear their wedding rings any more when they walk out of the house. Gangs on motor cycles terrorize motorists holding them up and robbing them in traffic jams.
Of course, if you listen to Venezuela's President Maduro (who on a play on words Venezuelans call 'Ma burro' ... 'burro' in Spanish is 'donkey') you will readily understand that the economic woes of his oil rich country have absolutely nothing to do with his and his predecessor's (the erstwhile Hugo Chavez) economic policies but are all the fault of that 'Great Satan', the United States!! (To which you will undoubtedly yawn and say 'what a surprise!') Of course, the total and complete incompetence of the regime not to mention the corruption that pervades the Chavista movement from top to bottom has nothing to do with a country that has been blessed with a plethora of riches from oil to gold and everything in between, being on its economic back!
But this post is not about the idiocies of Chavez and Ma burro (sorry, I mean Maduro). It is about the old Trinidadian adage 'when your neighbor's house is on fire wet your own'. T&T is doing nothing to prepare for the serious possibility of refugees from Venezuela that will occur when the proverbial mud hits the proverbial fan. The situation in Venezuela can't last much longer. Their "sell by" date for serious social unrest has long since passed and the regime can only stay in power by more and more brutal and undemocratic means. How long it will take before the lighted fuse finally hits the dynamite is anybody's guess. But that an explosion is inevitable is beyond question.
So? What are we doing to prepare for the coming explosion? What should we be doing now? And don't say 'nothing'. We should pay attention and prepare for the coming tsunami. Because, come it will.
P.S. Full disclosure: my wife is Venezuelan.
Posted by Robin Montano at 11:48 AM