Price Controls, Food Shortages in Venezuela

On Monday in the Wall Street Journal, Mary Anastasia O’Grady wrote a column about food shortages resulting from Hugo Chávez’s price control policies in Venezuela. WSJ subscribers can read “A Circus But No Bread” online. Or watch O’Grady talk about her column in the video below.

But first, check out the news story we ran way back on March 7, by Caracas-based contributor José Orozco. In “Chavez, Private Sector Face Off Over Food Shortages in Venezuela,” WPR covered this story just as Chavez began his price control policies, before it had been written about anywhere else. Here’s an excerpt:

“On the hoarders and speculators, I declare war,” Chavez said on his “Hello, President” radio show recently. He added: “If you don’t want to sell beef, don’t — we will sell it. But we’re going to take away the butcher shop, we’re going to expropriate the butcher shop, no matter how small, because they are obligated to open and sell to the public.”

A new law promises up to six years prison time, heavy fines and even possible expropriation for food hoarders and price speculators. Chavez blames the shortages on greedy capitalists, claiming that they are blackmailing Venezuelans by refusing to sell at regulated prices. Food industry representatives, however, attribute the shortages to Chavez’s economic policies.

Watch O’Grady talking about her column in the video below: