Author of The Blackout Book and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted
We’d all like to believe that the United States is on the road to economic recovery and that things are going to get better. Everyone wants to think the store shelves are just a few cargo ships away from being refilled. People want to believe that once 2020 is over, life will return to “normal” and that we’re just having a really bad year.
But someone pointed out an article I published four and a half years ago and when you look at the things which happened there and compare them to our situation, you may notice some uncanny similarities.
Here’s how Venezuela ran out of food.
In February of 2016, I wrote about what an economic collapse really looks like, using Venezuela as an illustration.
The article begins when prepping began to be frowned upon by the Venezuelan government.
In 2013, many began to suspect that the outlook for Venezuela was grim when prepping became illegal. The Attorney General of Venezuela, Luisa Ortega Díaz, called on prosecutors to target people who are “hoarding” basic staples with serious sanctions.
Shortly thereafter, grocery stores instituted a fingerprint registry to purchase food and supplies. Families had to register and were allotted a certain amount of supplies to prevent “hoarding.” (source)
The United States:
Early in 2020, supplies began to be difficult to find due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the potential of a lockdown. When folks couldn’t find basics like toilet paper, fingers immediately began to point at “preppers” and “hoarders.”
The word “hoarding” is being repeatedly used throughout news reports. They’re already working to paint preppers as bad and selfish people. They’re already vilifying those who hurry out to fill any gaps in their supplies. They’re making it seem like a mental illness to get prepared for what could potentially be a long stretch of time at home with only the supplies you have on hand.
This is a frequent trick of propagandists everywhere. Repeat a word often enough and suddenly everyone begins using it. Everyone begins to believe that the people labeled with an ugly word are terrible, selfish, and threats to decency. (source)
This dialogue is still in place, with people being shamed for large purchases, when in fact, they’re simply getting necessities for a large family. A friend of mine with a large family has said she’d have to shop every two days with the original limits stores posted to keep everyone in her household well-fed.
It wasn’t long until the basics were incredibly difficult to acquire.
Then, just over a year ago, it became even more apparent that the country was falling. when long lines for basic necessities such as laundry soap, diapers, and food became the norm rather than the exception. Thousands of people were standing in line for 5-6 hours in the hopes that they would be able to purchase a few much-needed items. (source)
The United States:
Writers on this website have talked about the shelves being cleared back in March, what we may see in shortage after halting many imports from China, and the fact that in most parts of the country, the supply chain is clearly broken.
People from all over the country have reported in the comments the bare spots in their local stores, with a few exceptions who say that everything in their part of the nation is back to normal. Many areas still have limits on how many packages of toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and canned goods customers can purchase months after the original panic-fueled shopping sprees.
Shortly after the story broke to the rest of the world, the propaganda machine shifted into high gear. As the government began to ration electricity, it was announced that this was not due to economic reasons at all, but instead was a measure of their great concern for the environment. (source)
The United States:
We’re looking at you, California, where PG&E, the largest power provider in the state has shut off the power to people in rural areas repeatedly over the past couple of years to “prevent wildfires.” Millions faced the hottest days of the summer without electricity.
As stores struggled to provide the essentials to customers, the government stepped in to “help.”
As the situation continued to devolve, farmers in Venezuela were forced to hand over their crops last summer. They assumed control of essential goods like food, and began putting retail outlets out of business. Then, once they had control of the sales outlets, they began forcing farmers and food manufacturers to sell anywhere from 30-100% of their products to the state at the price the state opted to pay, as opposed to stores and supermarkets.
But that wasn’t enough to keep the population fed. (Isn’t it astonishing how much less motivated people are to produce food and supplies when they are no longer allowed to benefit from their hard work? Historically, collectivism and farming have never gone successfully hand in hand.) This January, the government told citizens that they would need to produce their own food. The Ministry of Urban Farming was created to oversee this. While self-reliance sounds great, it isn’t so great in Venezuela. Just so the urban farmers don’t get too self-reliant, a registry of the crops and livestock will be required. (And obviously, they’ve already proven that they have no issue forcing farmers to hand over what they’ve produced.) (source)
The United States:
As our supply chain devolved, it was learned that farmers in the United States were unable to get their products to the market due to logistics issues, closed packaging plants, and a totally different marketplace. The President signed an Executive Order to force people to go back to work at meat packaging plants and also tried to organize a way to get food that was just being thrown out to the people who desperately needed it.
Processing plants across the country are shutting down as more and more employees become ill. At least ten large meat processing plants have closed due to the virus. Distribution issues have farmers dumping thousands of gallons of milk, plowing under vegetables in the fields, and leaving potatoes to rot.
A lot of the food being produced was destined for restaurants, hotels, and cruise ships. Diverting it to grocery stores and the millions of people using food banks right now (because they didn’t get their money from unemployment yet, remember?) is unfortunately not as easy as it should be. This article explains some of the issues with getting food to hungry people.
One of the issues processing. With meat, in particular, this is difficult – most folks aren’t even going to be willing to process their own chickens and it’s wildly unrealistic to imagine a family in the city processing a cow or a pig. With produce, it becomes a little bit easier – anyone can wash fruits and vegetables – but employees are still needed to harvest the food.
A lot of that scarcity could be remedied if we could reallocate things – if janitorial supplies could be sold to the general public, if farmers could sell directly to stores or consumers, and if farmers could donate unpurchased items to food banks.
To summarize, farmers are losing billions of dollars and people are going without food, while the food we have is left to rot. Hopefully, President Trump’s new 19 billion dollar plan will allow the federal government to play matchmaker between frustrated farmers and hungry families. (source)
So while nobody has insisted farmers hand over their crops without compensation, the government is clearly getting involved in the distribution of food.
Eventually, all the measures the government of Venezuela took to hide the catastrophic collapse from citizens could hold up no longer.
Venezuela is out of food.
After several years of long lines, rationing, and shortages, the socialist country does not have enough food to feed its population, and the opposition government has declared a “nutritional emergency.” This is just the most recent nail in the beleaguered country’s slow, painful economic collapse.
Many people expect an economic collapse to be shocking, instant, and dramatic, but really, it’s far more gradual than that. It looks like empty shelves, long lines, desperate government officials trying to cover their tushes, and hungry people. For the past two years, I’ve been following the situation in Venezuela as each shocking event has unfolded. Americans who feel that our country would be better served by a socialist government would be wise to take note of this timeline of the collapse. (source)
It only took 3 years from the first report (about making “hoarding” illegal) for the once oil-rich country to fall into a ruin so extreme that there wasn’t enough food for everyone.
The United States:
While we are by no means at the point where there is no more food, there are all sorts of warning signs that day could come – and sooner than expected. Many aspects of our system are crumbling, the supply chain is definitely broken, stores are already preparing for the second wave of shortages, and a simulation has predicted a 400% increase in the price of food by 2030.
An important side note
I’m sure it’s merely a coincidence but Venezuelans lost their firearms at around the same time “hoarding” was deemed illegal.
Were you aware that Venezuela banned guns for private citizens a mere four years ago, in 2012? Although the country was already in trouble, it seems like that was the beginning of the end.
Under the reign of Hugo Chavez, the government introduced a law that banned personal purchases of firearms and ammunition in an attempt to “improve security and cut crime”. The law was designed to keep guns in the hands of only police, military, and some security companies.
At the time, Chavez’s government said that “the ultimate aim is to disarm all civilians.” Shortly after the law passed, Chavez lost a battle to cancer, and bus driver Nicolas Maduro became the new president.
Maduro invested $47 million in “disarmament centers” in 2014, where citizens could turn in their firearms without fear of repercussions. This was at about the same time as the government declared that prepping was illegal and those “hoarding” could be detained on criminal charges and when the country instituted a fingerprint registry for purchasing groceries so that they could ensure people only purchased what they were allotted. (source)
Most readers of this website are well aware of concentrated efforts across the United States to undermine the Second Amendment over the past 9 years it has been operating. For more information on these efforts, check out these articles.
How far will we fall in the United States?
This side-by-side comparison is certainly not identical to the crisis in Venezuela, but there are enough similarities that you should be very uncomfortable with our situation. We strongly encourage efforts to become more self-reliant, stocking up on food and other supplies, and frugality in the days ahead.
Those who are prepared may still struggle but they’ll be far better off than those who are completely blindsided by the continued collapse.