Agustin Otxotorena, a Basque executive living in Caracas, grew tired of constant calls from friends and relatives in Spain telling him that there was no food in Venezuela, so on May 20 he began publishing photos on Facebook of supermarkets in upscale sectors of Caracas filled with goods.
Is There Hunger in Venezuela?
In addition to showing evidence of an abundance of food stuffs, Otxotorena also analyzed the situation. He concluded that there are two countries in Venezuela—one where "there are many people having a hard time, who don’t have the money to live,” and another where there is "an upper class that has a living standard higher than Europe."
The exclusive Fresh Fish Gourmet Market in the upscale Altamira neighborhood in Caracas has plenty of food.
"If you have money there is champagne … vodka, Belgian chocolates … lobster, brand-name clothes, exclusive restaurants … nightclubs, beaches … yachts, golf clubs—a whole country within a country where there are no poor, women and children are blond, go to exclusive schools, exclusive universities, and vacation, where Blacks or poor are the waiters … ,” he posted on his Facebook page.
In his analysis he stated that the phenomenon stems from corruption in import processes, subsidies by the government, and the existence of buying, re-selling and smuggling of subsidized essential goods by "bachaqueros", linked to Colombian paramilitary groups.
He explained that large retail chains such as Makro, Excelsior Gama or Plaza’s have their own import mechanisms, "They import directly and work with the strongest private importers."
These chains are then able to set their own prices to the value of the dollar, they are not regulated by the government.
All other shops must turn to wholesalers and small importers, which are regulated and distributed by the Bolivarian government and sold at subsidized prices. The basic basket products are regulated in bolivars at very low prices and are accessible to the working class.
Otxotorena explained, "While oil prices held, the Venezuelan government brought and brought food in and everything, and gave dollars to importers, who basically defrauded the government by putting premiums in dollars and a thousand ways and means, corrupting officials to certify, for example, that they had brought in three containers of auto parts ... when they had only brought one in and passed it through customs three times.”
When the Venezuelan government closed the border with Colombia in 2015, the "bachaqueros" began to buy subsidized commodities to re-sell to Venezuelans and to take out of the country.
"I post these photos because I'm tired of all who call or write me saying that in Venezuela there is no food and we live like Ethiopia or Somalia."
He adds that these bachaqueros, are directed and controlled by Colombian mafia organizations, with the complacency of the Venezuelan opposition, and have made a career of standing in lines to buy, hoard, re-sell and smuggle goods out of the country.
This is what has lead to the lack of foodstuffs in working class and poor neighborhoods of the country. It is estimated that 40 percent of these products, are taken out of the country.
Colombian paramilitaries earn more money from these Venezuelan goods than from the production and marketing of cocaine, Otxotorena added.
Otxotorena’s conclusion is that indeed there is a war against the Venezuelan people, whose criminal and coup character is encouraged by some international media "that would not bear or endure a 10th of these behaviors if they occurred in their countries.
"Everything goes toward the overthrow of Chavismo. However, whatever, whenever ... The only thing that matters to them (the opposition), even if the country is destroyed, is to get the Blacks, the poor, the Indigenous, the ‘ugly people’ or ‘peasants’ out of power.
"Unfortunately, they are very racist and classist …”