A new decree by Venezuela’s government could make its citizens work on farms to tackle the country’s severe food shortages. That “effectively amounts to forced labour,” according to Amnesty International, which derided the decree as “unlawful.”
In a vaguely-worded decree, Venezuelan officials indicated that public and private sector employees could be forced to work in the country’s fields for at least 60-day periods, which may be extended “if circumstances merit.”
“Trying to tackle Venezuela’s severe food shortages by forcing people to work the fields is like trying to fix a broken leg with a band aid,” Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas’ Director at Amnesty International, said in a statement.
President Nicolas Maduro is using his executive powers to declare a state of economic emergency. By using a decree, he can legally circumvent Venezuela’s opposition-led National Assembly — the Congress — which is staunchly against all of Maduro’s actions.
According to the decree from July 22, workers would still be paid their normal salary by the government and they can’t be fired from their actual job.
This is what happens when the blood-sucking ticks of the Maxist-Leninist-Maoist spectrum get hold of the economy, you rapidly go from subsidised foodstuffs and the promise of cradle-to-grave protection by the state to starvation and forced labour.
The only thing new in all of this is the date; socialist induced famines being a well documented feature, albeit seldom advertised. Certainly Venezuela’s policies from nationalisation of the petrochemical industry to price fixing and currency manipulation have a familiar feel to any student of post-WW2 Eastern Europe. Thus we prepare to entire the next stage of the consequences of economic denial, the Road to Hyperinflation.
Venezuela’s inflation for 2016 is estimated at 481.5% this year and by a staggering 1,642.8% next year, according to the latest International Monetary Fund World Outlook. Given that smuggling food is now a crime in the country as is taking photographs of the queues outside supermarkets, these figures are probably understated.
The supermarket shelves are empty, not because of a US government plot to bring down Maduro (as the Chavistas claim), but because simple economics says that goods cannot be sold at below the cost of production, which is what Chavista policies require at this time given the massive budget deficit.
Maduro continues to occupy the presidential palace, with attempts to remove him taking a glacial pace. One would perhaps wish for a coup to end the deadlock quickly, but that was the route by which Hugo Chavez began his populist climb into power, so possibly not.
I think Venezuelans will have to get a little thinner before the Presidential cockroach is forced to finally “check out”.