ALERT THE REALIST NEWS Venezuela Prepares For 720% Hyperinflation


PUERTO CABELLO, Venezuela — In the capital, water is so expensive and scarce that residents wait for hours with bottles at the side of a mountain where it trickles out onto the highway.

In the countryside, sugar cane fields rot, and milk factories stand idle, even as people carry bags of money around to buy food on the black market in every city and town.

And here in this port that once fed a nation, everything looks bare. Where a dozen ships once waited to enter, only four could be seen from a hilltop fort built long ago to guard against raids from the sea.

No one would pillage Puerto Cabello today. There is nothing to take anymore.

And it is all about to get much worse.

Inflation is expected to hit 720 percent this year, the highest in the world, making Venezuela reminiscent of Zimbabwe at the start of its collapse. The price of oil, this country’s lifeblood, has collapsed to lows not seen in more than a decade.

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Foes May Hate Hugo Chávez, but They Like His Political PlaybookJAN. 26, 2016
For the last month, I have been writing about Venezuela every day, chronicling its people, politics, language, quirks and culture through the eyes of a correspondent who moved here just as this country was heading deeper into economic disarray.


Patients rested in the hallways at the public hospital in Merida. Across Venezuela, public hospitals are short on supplies and have long waiting lists for beds. Credit Meridith Kohut for The New York Times
It was a project where fleeting moments carried the story: shouting matches during the first session of Congress; soldiers at the tomb of President Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013; letters from expatriates who had left Venezuela because of crime and longed to return.

As I wrote about everyday interactions and exchanges, some themes became even more apparent. In Venezuela — a country where hospitals already lack syringes, supermarkets struggle to stock basic goods, and the government has declared an economic emergency while sitting upon the world’s largest reserves of oil — the strains just keep growing.

I visited a fish farmer who, after the fish feed ran out, resorted to grinding up beans and sugar cane, throwing them into a pond and crossing his fingers. (He got small fish.) I wrote about the bundles of cash needed to buy some coffee and water; a store that sold only broken toys; and the enduring loyalty of Mr. Chávez’s supporters.


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With the photographer Meridith Kohut, I traveled across the country on what seemed, to many, the eve of a disaster. It showed in the faces of the people along the journey, 1,200 miles in all, starting at the coast, winding through the Andes and finally dropping down into Venezuela’s vast but dying agricultural plains.

Down the hillside in Puerto Cabello, a line formed in front of a grocery store, with hundreds of people looking for food. Many had arrived at 5:30 a.m., when rumor had it that a delivery truck had reached the store. At a quarter past 10, a policeman with a pistol monitored the door, letting in a dozen at a time.

The day before, there were beans, flour and milk for sale.

This morning, there was only cooking oil.

Ecio Corredor, who stood in line, said he lost his job in November. Ironically, he said, he used to drive the goods from the docks to the supermarkets.


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“There are no more shipments now,” he said. He mumbled to Carlos Perozo, another driver, who said he had been out of work for a year because of a dead car battery. He could not find another, and could not afford one if he did.

“Be careful,” Mr. Perozo said. “Someone will come for yours.”

Palm trees lined an oil refinery. “We Are All Chávez,” was painted on the side of the facility.



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