Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Going shopping in Venezuela is a border‐crosser

What else can you say about Venezuela?  It is a mess!   
Years ago, I went to Caracas, and I remember having to buy some things for my trip.  I walked over to a small shopping center near the hotel, purchased some things, and that was it.  It was like any U.S. city, from the availability of products to number of stores.  To say the least, Caracas was a modern city with nice people.
Well, things have changed, and not for the better.  In the last couple of days, I saw a report of people crossing into Colombia to purchase groceries:
In just 12 hours, more than 35,000 Venezuelans crossed the border into Colombia on Sunday to buy food and medicines in the city of Cucuta, when the Venezuelan government agreed to opened border crossings for one day only.
People began crossing the Simon Bolivar international bridge at 5:00 a.m. to purchase products that are scarce in Venezuela.
“We’re from here in San Antonio (and), honestly, we don’t have any food to give our children, so I don’t think it’s fair that the border is still closed,” a Venezuelan woman told EFE in Cucuta.
The woman, who preferred to not give her name, crossed the international bridge with her husband and children ages 5 and 2.
The border crossings between Tachira state and Norte de Santander province were closed on Aug. 19, 2015, by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who said he took the measure to fight smuggling and prevent members of paramilitary groups from entering Venezuela.
What is the definition of a failed state?  In my mind, a failed state is one where people have to cross a border to buy milk and other groceries because their stores are empty.
Sooner rather than later, the U.S. and the OAS will come to terms with the reality that Venezuela is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis previously unseen in Latin America.  What else can you say about shelves without foodstuffs, gas stations without gasoline, drug stores without aspirin, and hospitals without medical supplies?
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