Source: teleSUR

The first thing to make absolutely clear is that most Venezuelans are now facing very serious difficulties managing their everyday needs. The problems are varied, but they really come down to two. Firstly, it is very hard to find many basic foodstuffs and other everyday items. Secondly, most people find it very hard to pay for them.

To illustrate this, and give some context, here are a couple of anecdotes. The video above was filmed outside the Central Madeirense, one of Venezuela’s largest supermarket chains. For over a year I did most of my shopping here. There were shortages and queues then too. For several weeks you couldn’t find milk, or Venezuela’s favorite flour mix, harina pan, or oil. The government had already begun to accuse the private sector of hoarding and speculating. Then one or other item would appear and that day long lines would form.

Several things seem to have changed since then. The lines are more constant. And the mood is more tense. Three years ago it was clear that some people were lining up to buy many more bottles of oil than they needed. Sometimes the whole family turned up, each buying as many as they could carry. This has now turned into the elaborate industry of bachaqueo, where people buy basic products at very low, controlled prices, then resell them at very many times that price. Queuing has become their profession. But the bigger players seem to have direct access to the storeroom at the back. Most people here are convinced that this business is run by agreement between three sectors: the bachaqueros, or resellers themselves, the supermarket managers who deliberately divert produce to them, and members of the police or armed forces who are on hand to make sure it all goes smoothly. My own experience seems to confirm that.