Venezuela runs out of toilet paper, govt blames opponents


The gang at Zero Hedge are in high snark over news that Venezuela has run out of toilet paper with the government blaming opponents for a media campaign that has created an excessive demand. The government will be importing 50 million rolls to make up the shortfall. The problem appears to be artificially low price controls which apparently makes it impossible for Venezuelan firms to manufacture toilet paper and sell it with it at a profit.

Alternatively, if the government is not merely paranoid, and if indeed this is just another CIA-inspired tactic to overthrow the government, then the Langley brain trust will have redeemed itself for the recent humiliation in Russia by showing the world it can truly think outside of the toilet box.

Note to Hugo Chavez. Oil is fungible

Socialist Unity on Venezuela’s threat to stop selling oil to the US if attacked by Columbia

If actually carried out, such a threat would be a big blow for the Venezuelan economy. More than 90 percent of its export earnings are from oil. The United States is the top buyer of oil from Venezuela, which is one of the U.S. main oil suppliers.


Fungibility is the property of a good or a commodity whose individual units are capable of mutual substitution. Examples of highly fungible commodities are crude oil, wheat, orange juice, precious metals, and currencies.

So, if Venezuela blocks direct oil sales to the US, someone else will buy their oil and perhaps sell it to the US. Or the US simply buys oil elsewhere.

Hugo sings

Marc Cooper

This is so stupid, I am not going to bother to translate this little ditty from Hugo Chavez. The gist of it is that he expresses sorrow for all of the poor people condemned to live in the U.S. and then he sings a song about how he doesn’t love Hillary Clinton. It’s Chavez’ right to be an ass. No harm there. What I do find unsettling are the “optics” — the disciplined audience of party faithful, all wearing red and clapping in unison. We’ve see this movie before, and it never ends very well. Doesn’t exactly look like an atmosphere that encourages critical and independent thinking.

Marc Cooper is socialist, was a translator for the Allende government in Chile and barely escaped with his life when the coup happened.

But apparently he must have forgotten that Chavez stands against imperialism so therefore anything he does is permissible, justifiable, and exemplary.


It’s not hard to find criticisms of Hugo Chavez in this country. Their socialist experiment, we are told, is doomed for failure. The recent news of Venezuela’s currency devaluation and two-tiered exchange rate have some shrieking failure. Mike Shedlock, on his blog Mish’s Global Economic Analysis, had this to say,

Turn out the lights. The collapse of Venezuela is well underway. It will not be long before the country completely stops functioning, assuming you think Venezuela is functioning now.

I happen to think Venezuela is functioning. According to a recent study by the Venezuelan Institute of Data Analysis (IVAD), Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez’s approval rating has dropped slightly, to 60.3%, from 62.4% last October. That’s about eight points higher than Obama’s approval rating here in the United States. Like the US and the rest of the world they are dealing with the economic crisis. However, unlike here in the United States where social spending is getting slashed across the board, “Venezuela’s 2010 Budget Maintains Social Spending…” According to Venezuela’s Minister for Finances and the Economy, Ali Rodriguez Araque:

The total budget for 2010 is 159.41 billion Bolivars (US $73.9 billion). Of this, 45.73% would be directed towards social spending aimed at poverty reduction and improving the quality of life for Venezuelans, Rodriguez announced.

The big question seems to be whether or not Venezuela can actually afford to continue its social spending in the wake of this economic crisis. In a previous post, Bob points out:

If you devalue the currency and make imports much more expensive, inflation will increase. Nationalizing a business does nothing to stop this. Nor does denouncing inflation.

Bob is probably right, but when I contrast our nation’s priorities during the bailout with those of Venezuela I’m left a bit envious. Where are the programs here to combat poverty, rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, create energy independence and the like? Whatever you think about Hugo Chavez, you should understand the Bolivarian Revolution underway there is much bigger than any one person. As I was researching for this article, I came across an interesting quote from Chavez’s brother Adan:

We conducted urban guerrilla work. But because of its clandestine character [of the Party of the Venezuelan Revolution] did not have contact with the masses. Furthermore they were very dogmatic and sectarian. like the MIR, it split and ended up disappearing. In order to achieve a revolutionary popular movement, which would allow the taking of power, one had to have a strong influence within the popular masses and have support within the Armed Forces.”

The dogmatic and sectarian nature of the Left in the US is something Bob has written about repeatedly here and I think in many ways the Bolivarian example offers clues on how we might move beyond that.