Why is Corbyn still fetishising Venezuela?
By Rachel Cunliffe
- Why is Corbyn still fetishising Venezuela?
- Where else in the world would it be worth the costs and risks of smuggling just to transport flour?
- Maduro is using state-sanctioned violence to address a problem the Venezuelan state created for itself
It’s all been kicking off in Venezuela this week. President Maduro announced on Monday that he was continuing to ramp up the anti-smuggling drive along the Colombian border. The “state of emergency” he called in August has meant deporting thousands of Colombians, as well as stationing over two thousand troops along the border in Tachira. According to the Guardian, “Nearly 20,000 other Colombians, some of whom have lived in Venezuela for years, have returned voluntarily, fearing reprisals as reports spread about security forces uprooting migrants and earmarking their homes for demolition.”
The situation is both tragic and politically disturbing. Venezuelans will head to the polls in December, and Maduro has the right to maintain the state of emergency for 120 days. That means violence and disruption will continue to destabilise a state which just happens to be one of the key opposition strongholds.
But let’s excuse Maduro of this Machiavellian political manoeuvring for a moment and assume he is sincere in trying to tackle smuggling. AsBusiness Insider makes clear, smuggling is a genuine problem: “Organized smuggling groups also operate in the area, buying goods in Venezuela to resell them in Colombia, exacerbating shortages in crisis-hit Venezuela.”
What are these goods that are so lucrative as to be worthy of organised crime? Are gangs smuggling heroin or cocaine? Weapons? Child prostitutes? No. The key goods being smuggled into Colombia are commodities like petrol and flour, which are subsidised and kept at artificially low prices in Venezuela.
Where else in the world would it be worth the costs and risks of smuggling just to transport flour? Maybe somewhere in a famine-stricken sub-Saharan country, but Colombia isn’t facing nationwide starvation. So why is the Colombian border such a hotspot? Simple. Prices in Venezuela are far too low, meaning there is real profit to be made transporting basic goods somewhere they can be sold at their market value. And my guess is that anyone with flour or petrol to spare would much rather sell it on the black market to a smuggler than via the official channels at a loss. It’s no wonder Venezuelans are facing acute shortages of basic goods.
Read more: www.capx.co