Venezuelans, welcome to life in Cuba

Venezuelans who voted in Chavez are now beginning to see he’s as bad as Castro. Shortages, which have been a way of life in Cuba for the last 48 years, are beginning to rear their ugly faces in Venezuela:

Ysacar Morales and her stepfather Daniel are sitting on the front step of their house in San José Cotiza, a poor neighbourhood in central Caracas, reminiscing about beef and black beans.

“There hasn’t been meat in the shops since February,” says Ysacar, 15. “And the beans disappeared a couple of weeks ago.”

Shortages of such staples are a symptom of an economy distorted by foreign exchange restrictions, price controls and subsidies. Another is rampant consumerism, fuelled by cash transfers to the very poor and furious spending by the wealthy.

The result is that while those at the top and the bottom have benefited, the poor and lower middle class are suffering from scarcity and inflation.

Ysacar and Daniel do not blame the popular leftwing President Hugo Chávez for the shortages. But Daniel, a waiter, is critical of the government.

“We’re heading towards a situation like in Cuba,” he says. “Scarcity is becoming a normal part of life.”

Get ready for worse, Daniel.