One of the most cruelly ironic aspects of applied socialism is that it ends up inflicting the worst pain on those it most vocally purports to try to help. Witness, the scenes of chaos in Caracas:
On a recent morning in the rundown, garbage-strewn Caracas district of El Valle, some 200 people pushed up against police guarding a supermarket as they chanted, “We want food!” and “Loot it!” A few at the front were allowed in for two bags of pasta each.
“We’re not eating. People are desperate for a looting,” said mother-of-three Miza Colmenares, 55, who had spent the night in line and not eaten since the previous day when she had eggs for breakfast.
One young woman fainted in the heat, an elderly lady cried uncontrollably on the sidewalk and the seething crowd chased away a government supporter.
10 lootings per day are now reported across the country, with supermarkets a frequent target of enraged, hungry citizens. At night, armed gangs hijack delivery trucks and sell the goods on the black market.
Venezuela’s opposition is still trying to unseat President Nicolas Maduro by means of a recall referendum, but the situation on the ground may soon overtake any such political niceties. So far Maduro has been attempting to blame the shortages on food hoarding by the opposition, but that line is increasingly not gaining purchase among the increasingly desperate population. Should truly massive public unrest break out, all eyes will turn on the Venezuelan army—an institution with its share of Maduro-sympathisizing Chavistas who nevertheless may find it convenient to cut the boss loose in order to secure a decent future for themselves in whatever arrangement comes next.