AP Report on Venezuela Touts How Chronic Shortages 'Bury Mindless Consumerism'

November 26th, 2014 9:17 AM

It's amazing how any reporter can cover the deepening economic crisis in Venezuela without saying a word about how the country got there.

But Associated Press reporter Hannah Dreier was up to the task. In a bizarre, sickening November 20 report on how its people are having to get "creative" in the face of chronic shortages of basic goods to get by, she acted as if those shortages — and the over five decades of worse problems in Cuba — somehow just happened.

Dreier also virtually celebrated the fact that conditions in that country can be seen as the fulfillment of a fond "dream" of deceased dictator Hugo Chavez's dreams (bolds and numbered tags are mine):


Cloth diapers, baking soda to make deodorant and vinegar to mop the floor. That's not the shopping list of an eco-friendly hipster, it's how an increasing number of resourceful Venezuelans are making do in a time of severe shortages.

With the South American country entering what looks to be a third year of empty store shelves amid a deepening economic crisis, [1] Venezuelans are turning to old-timey, all-natural methods to replace their favorite products.

At a smog-choked makeshift market under a downtown overpass, street vendors compare their preferred method of keeping the insects away, now that DEET bug spray is all but extinct here. The matter has taken on new urgency as a painful mosquito-borne illness, chikungunya, sweeps the country. [2]

... Home to the world's largest proven oil reserves, Venezuela is nothing if not a consumerist culture, despite the anti-materialist ideology proffered by the nation's 14-year-old socialist revolution. In the 1970s, Venezuelan shoppers in Miami earned the nickname "dame dos," Spanish for "give me two." And with the highest per-capita gas consumption in Latin America, the country isn't about to win any recognition for its environmentalism.

But that same oil-dependence has led to a cycle of booms and busts that make Venezuelans especially adept at improvising during tough times. [3]

"You have had a century of ups and downs, and instability. [3] People get used to certain products. When they are not available they figure out a different way," said David Smilde, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America who has spent decades researching in Venezuela.

... In Cuba, Venezuela's closest ally, making do has become second nature. There, a population that has been grappling with shortages since the 1960s [4] substitute lard for olive oil, punch holes in water bottles to make showerheads, and keep their vintage cars running with surprisingly functional homemade batteries.

Such hardships have not yet arrived in Venezuela. [5] ...

... In some ways, the turn toward home remedies is the fulfillment of the late President Hugo Chavez's dream to bury mindless consumerism - a key, albeit largely ignored, element of his revolution. [6]


[1] — Yeah, this "deepening economic crisis" just sort of showed up, and it's hung around for three years now. AP clearly has no interest in telling readers that all of this is the completely predictable result of socialism on steroids with a heavy dose of totalitarian rule on the side.

[2] — Chikungunya is more than "painful," Hannah. People are dying from it in Caribbean countries, and the nationalization of much of the economy by the governments of Chavez and Nicolas Maduro has made the best defense against the disease unavailable.

[3] (tagged twice) — Here we go again. It's just those uncontrollable "booms and busts," or "ups and downs," that lead to these shortages, and Venezuela just so happens to be in the bust phase. It has nothing to do with the authoritarian governments of Chavez and Maduro.

[4] — Poor Cuba. It's been in the "bust" phase for over 50 years. I don't know, maybe that has something to do with Fidel Castro's ruthless Communist government. What do you think, Hannah?

[5] — Dreier seems to recognize that Venezuela is on the path to becoming another Cuba, despite having, as she noted, "the world's largest proven oil reserves." It takes a special level of incompetence and arrogance to replicate Cuba while sitting on tons of oil, but the Maduro government has been proving itself up to the challenge.

[6] — "Mindless consumerism"? Based on Dreier's writeup, those "mindless consumers" include people who:

  • Prefer disposable diapers to cloth.
  • Want to have real pest control products instead of having to resort to dubious home-brewed concoctions to fight a painful and sometimes deadly disease.
  • (Brace yourself) Would rather not use "an 'organic' re-usable cloth sanitary napkin of the kind now in vogue on many U.S. liberal arts campuses."

Someone is indeed being "mindless" here, Hannah Dreier and AP — and it's not the suffering Venezuelan people.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.