Hugo Chavez Spearheads Raids as Food Prices SkyrocketEvery revolution that has promised a "Socialist Paradise" has quickly produced a special circle of Hell for its citizens; Socialism is simply not part of the normal human psyche and those citizens who embrace it are either tools of the State or parasites.
Mountains of rotting food found at a government warehouse, soaring prices and soldiers raiding wholesalers accused of hoarding: Food supply is the latest battle in President Hugo Chavez's socialist revolution.
Venezuelan army soldiers swept through the working class, pro-Chavez neighborhood of Catia in Caracas last week, seizing 120 tons of rice along with coffee and powdered milk that officials said was to be sold above regulated prices.
"The battle for food is a matter of national security," said a red-shirted official from the Food Ministry, resting his arm on a pallet laden with bags of coffee.
It is also the latest issue to divide the Latin American country where Chavez has nationalized a wide swathe of the economy, he says to reverse years of exploitation of the poor.
Chavez supporters are grateful for a network of cheap state-run supermarkets and they say the raids will slow massive inflation.
Critics accuse him of steering the country toward a communist dictatorship and say he is destroying the private sector.
They point to 80,000 tons of rotting food found in warehouses belonging to the government as evidence the state is a poor and corrupt administrator.
Jose Guzman, an assistant manager at a store raided in Catia, watched with resignation as government agents pored over the company's accounts and computers after the food ministry official and the television cameras left.
"The government is pushing this type of establishment toward bankruptcy," said Guzman, who linked the raid to the rotten food scandal. "Somehow they have to replace all the food that was lost, and this is the most expeditious way."
Chavez, and his country, are doomed to a particularly bloody counter-revolution as a result of this folly.