[News] The Politics of Food in Venezuela

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jun 5 15:21:13 EDT 2018


https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/13855


  The Politics of Food in Venezuela

By Ana Felicien, Christina Schiavoni and Liccia Romero - June 5, 2018
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Few countries and political processes have been subject to such 
scrutiny, yet so generally misunderstood, as Venezuela and the 
Bolivarian Revolution.^1 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-1> This 
is particularly true today, as the international media paints an image 
of absolute devastation in the country, wrought by failed policies and 
government mismanagement. At the same time, the three national elections 
of 2017 demonstrated a strong show of support for the continuation of 
the revolution under its current leadership. This seeming paradox, we 
are told, can only be attributed to government tendencies of co-optation 
and clientelism, along with a closing of democratic space. Such messages 
are reproduced many times over, both in the media and in certain 
intellectual circles.^2 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-2>

A benefit of the intense attention paid to Venezuela is that a recurring 
narrative can be identified, which goes basically as follows. The 
central character is Hugo Chávez Frías, a strong-armed political leader 
who enjoyed the double advantage of personal charisma and high oil 
prices over the course of his presidency from 1999 through 2012. In 
2013, Chávez died, and the following year global oil prices plunged. 
Amid the perfect storm of the loss of Chávez, the collapse in oil 
prices, and the government’s misguided policies, Venezuela has steadily 
slid into a state of economic and political disintegration, with food 
and other necessities growing scarce, in turn sparking social unrest as 
people take to the streets. The government, headed by Chávez’s less 
charismatic successor, Nicolás Maduro, is going to desperate lengths to 
hang onto power, becoming increasingly authoritarian in the process, 
while maintaining the populist rhetoric of Chávez’s Bolivarian Revolution.

However, this dominant narrative does not capture the complexities of 
what is happening in Venezuela today. There are significant holes in the 
account, which raise important questions: who are “the people” at the 
center of this analysis? What, if any, are the different impacts of 
present challenges on various sectors of society? How should the 
Venezuelan state be understood, and where and how does the role of 
capital figure? By focusing on the politics of food as a key area in 
which the country’s broader politics are playing out—particularly by 
looking at recent shortages and food lines, as well as what have been 
presented as “food riots”—a multitude of issues can be better 
understood. Often-ignored matters of race, class, gender, and geography 
demand special attention.

We will begin by looking to the past to situate present trends in their 
proper context. By homing in on the dynamics around Venezuela’s most 
highly consumed staple foods, we can gain insight into the current 
conjuncture, particularly the recent food shortages. Some of the main 
drivers of the shortages come from forces opposing the Bolivarian 
Revolution, which are increasingly gaining ground within the state. We 
will then discuss responses to the shortages by the government and 
popular forces.


    Historical Continuities of Extraction

A nuanced understanding of contemporary Venezuela requires going back 
not to Chávez’s election in 1999, but centuries earlier, to the period 
of colonization and the inception of interrelated patterns of extraction 
and social differentiation that continue today. While much has been 
written on “extractivism” as a key feature of Latin America’s “pink 
tide” countries, including Venezuela, it is imperative to understand 
present patterns of extraction as part of a much longer historical 
continuity dating back to Spanish colonization from the sixteenth into 
the nineteenth centuries. During this period, a “tropical plantation 
economy based on slave labor” gave rise to a powerful agroexportation 
complex, through which cacao and later coffee were supplied to Europe 
and Mexico.^3 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-3> A 
key feature of this complex was the two-part plantation-/conuco/ system, 
in which the enslaved and, later, low-wage labor forces of the colonial 
/haciendas/ depended on family and communal plots (/conucos/) for 
subsistence.

Venezuela was among the first countries in the region to achieve 
independence, but in the early nineteenth century, most social and 
economic structures established under colonization were little altered. 
These included patterns of food consumption, extending from the 
plantation-/conuco/ system to the culinary habits that the colonial 
elite brought over from Europe. This dietary differentiation was 
intricately linked with issues of identity and domination, serving to 
maintain European descendants’ sense of superiority over the indigenous, 
Afro-descendent, and /mestizo/ majority. One Spanish general remarked 
that he could “handle anything on this earth except for those wretched 
corn cakes they call /arepas/, that have only been made for stomachs of 
blacks and ostriches.”^4 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-4> But 
even as they disdained indigenous foodways, European elites depended on 
them, as indigenous knowledge proved essential for the adaptation of 
European crops to tropical agroecosystems, and food from 
/conucos/ served as a vital source of sustenance, particularly during 
war. The plantation economy and the hacienda system lasted for another 
century after independence.

In 1929, the U.S. stock market crash and the associated collapse in 
agricultural commodity prices, together with the rise of oil in 
Venezuela as an export commodity, spelled the end of the agroexportation 
period, as several new patterns rapidly emerged. One was a flight of 
capital from agriculture to the emerging petroleum industry, with oil 
concessions going mostly to the same wealthy families that had dominated 
the agroexport complex.^5 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-5> This 
was accompanied by mass migration out of rural areas, through mutually 
reinforcing processes of proletarianization and urbanization, and a 
subsequent surge in urban poverty, with insufficient employment and 
infrastructure to absorb these new urban workers. The development of the 
petroleum sector thus further concentrated wealth among the elite while 
fostering a “surplus population” of urban poor, but also gave rise to a 
middle class of professional workers. In response to these changes, 
owners of the former agroexport complex were able to take advantage of 
its existing infrastructure, an influx of oil dollars, and the new 
purchasing power of Venezuela’s emerging middle class to shift from 
exporting to importing food. Over time, these practices developed into a 
powerful agro-food import and distribution complex.^6 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-6>

Petroleum also broke the plantation-/conuco/ system, rupturing existing 
patterns of production and consumption. To fill this void, the 
government in 1936 initiated an agricultural modernization program, 
funded by petroleum dollars and designed to replace imports of highly 
consumed foods in the growing urban centers. The push for modernization 
was part and parcel of the Green Revolution then sweeping much of the 
global South, part of an anticommunist Cold War strategy among the 
United States and allies. In Venezuela, the process was ushered in by 
U.S. “missionary capitalist” to Latin America and godfather to the Green 
Revolution, Nelson Rockefeller. As the home of Standard Oil’s most 
profitable regional affiliate, the country held a special significance 
for Rockefeller, who made Venezuela his home away from home, even 
establishing his own /hacienda/.^7 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-7>

Venezuela’s agricultural modernization program melded industrial 
production and white supremacy, manifested in efforts aimed at 
/blanqueamiento/, or “whitening.” This was reflected, for instance, in 
the Law of Immigration and Colonization of 1936, which facilitated the 
entrance of white Europeans into Venezuela, intended, in the words of 
agricultural minister Alberto Adriani, to help Venezuela “diversify its 
agriculture; develop new industries and perfect existing ones; and 
contribute to the improvement of its race and the elevation of its 
culture.”^8 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-8> Towards 
these ends, the law supported the formation of aptly named /colonias 
agrícolas/ (agricultural colonies) of European immigrants on some of the 
country’s most productive agricultural land, several of which still 
exist today.

The modernization agenda also introduced another kind of colonization in 
the form of Venezuela’s first chain of supermarkets, CADA, founded in 
1948 and spearheaded by Rockefeller, together with the Venezuelan 
government. Further solidifying the connections between food 
consumption, identity, and social status, supermarkets allowed the 
emerging middle class to enjoy a taste of food elitism, literally and 
figuratively. This was part of a broader program of modern 
state-building designed to turn Venezuela into a “reliable US ally 
with…a solid middle-class electorate.”^9 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-9> By 
many accounts, these efforts succeeded, and Venezuela by the late 
twentieth century was commonly regarded as “one of the developing 
world’s success stories, an oil-rich democracy that was seen as a model 
for economic growth and political stability in the region.”^10 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-10> However, 
“oil never fully transformed Venezuela, but rather it created the 
illusion of modernity in a country where high levels of inequality 
persisted.”^11 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-11> Indeed, 
the predominant narratives routinely fail to mention that at the start 
of the Bolivarian Revolution, more than half of the population was 
living in poverty, with hunger levels higher than those of today.^12 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-12>


    Another Side of History

A glance at recent history challenges the depiction of pre-Chávez 
Venezuela as a model democracy and bastion of stability in a tumultuous 
region. One particularly revealing episode occurred in 1989, when 
IMF-prescribed structural adjustment policies proved the final straw for 
an increasingly fed-up population, sparking the Caracazo, or “explosion 
of Caracas,” in which hundreds of thousands of people from the hillside 
barrios flooded the center of the capital in a massive popular uprising 
that rapidly spread across the country.^13 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-13> The 
military was ordered to open fire on civilians, yielding a death toll 
officially in the hundreds but believed to be in the thousands—yet the 
social revolt unleashed by the Caracazo would not be contained.

This brings us to another side of history: every event described above 
occurred amid tension, and sometimes open conflict, between the elite 
and the “others” whom they attempted to subjugate and exploit, while 
never fully succeeding. As recognized by numerous historical accounts, 
the indigenous peoples, African descendants, and /mestizos/ who make up 
the majority of Venezuelans have long been a defiant lot, from 
Afro-descendent rebellions and indigenous uprisings to more covert forms 
of resistance. Such resistance from below was pivotal to the fall of 
colonization, once independence leader Simon Bolivar understood the 
importance of enslaved and indigenous peoples to the struggle for 
independence, and continued into peasant struggles over land 
post-independence, and later through the struggles of /guerillas/, 
students, workers, and women, among other “others,” during the period of 
democratization. The rise of Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution can be 
understood as a direct continuation of the Caracazo and the rebellions 
before it, through which “the popular sectors…came to assume their own 
political representation.”^14 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-14>

Inequities around food were among the immediate causes of the Caracazo, 
as the poor endured long lines to access basic goods, while middle-class 
merchants hoarded these goods to speculate on rising prices in the face 
of inflation, and the elite carried on with their day-to-day food habits 
largely unaffected—all striking parallels with the present situation. 
Just before and after the Caracazo, headlines such as “Prices of Sugar, 
Cereals, and Oils Go Up” and “Distressed Multitudes in Search of Food” 
abounded in the national press, while the /New York Times/ reported 
“shortages of items like coffee, salt, flour, cooking oil and other 
basic products.”^15 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-15> This 
reflected growing tensions around food access, disproportionately 
impacting the poor and showing that Venezuela’s “modernized” food 
system, based on importation, industrial agriculture, and supermarkets, 
as championed by Rockefeller, did not in fact serve the interests of the 
majority. This in turn implied the dual, if at times divergent, tasks at 
the start of the Bolivarian Revolution: addressing the immediate 
material needs of the more than half of the population living in 
poverty, while working to shift the historical patterns that had caused 
deep disparities in Venezuela’s food system.

The importance of food and agriculture was reflected in Venezuela’s new 
national constitution, drafted through a participatory constituent 
assembly process and passed by popular referendum in 1999. The 
constitution guarantees food security for all citizens, “through the 
promotion of sustainable agriculture as a strategic basis for integrated 
rural development.”^16 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-16> In 
response to this popular mandate, a variety of state-sponsored 
initiatives have been established, in tandem with citizen efforts, under 
the banner of “food sovereignty.” Fundamental to these have been 
processes of agrarian reform, which have combined land redistribution 
with a wide variety of rural development programs, including in 
education, housing, health care, and media and communications. Fishing 
communities have benefited from similar programs, and from the banning 
of industrial trawling off the Venezuelan coast.^17 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-17>These 
rural initiatives have been complemented by a range of largely urban 
food access programs, reaching schools, workplaces, and households.^18 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-18> Equally 
important to food sovereignty efforts are diverse forms of popular 
organization, from local communal councils and regional /comunas/ to 
farmers’ and fishers’ councils, that have helped to broaden popular 
participation in the food system.^19 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-19>

Such programs have seen both important gains and limitations. Perhaps 
most notably, Venezuela surpassed the first Millennium Development Goal 
of cutting hunger in half by 2015, as recognized by the United Nations 
Food and Agriculture Organization.^20 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-20> From 
2008 to 2011, hunger was dramatically reduced, affecting an average of 
3.1 percent of the population.^21 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-21> Yet 
such advances, sponsored by oil revenues from Venezuela’s nationalized 
petroleum industry, came largely from a reinforcement of the agroimport 
complex, not from alternative systems. In addition, efforts toward 
agrarian reform in the countryside also received significant investment, 
but remained largely separate from food security programs. While some 
important inroads were made in connecting the two initiatives, the 
Chávez years saw no lasting rupture in the historic power of those who 
controlled the agrifood system. Thus, more food programs for the poor 
meant more food imports, which further consolidated the import complex, 
reinforced through multiple mechanisms of the state. Among these 
mechanisms was the granting of dollars from oil revenues to private 
enterprises, at highly subsidized rates, for imports of food and other 
goods deemed essential. This means that over the course of the 
Bolivarian Revolution, state funds, while going toward many social 
programs, have also flowed into the private food import complex, 
amounting to major subsidies for the most powerful companies.^22 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-22> The 
direct and indirect beneficiaries of this system have little incentive 
to alter it.


    Power in the Food System: The /Maíz-Harina-Arepa/ Complex

These processes of accumulation and differentiation in Venezuela’s 
agrifood system can be clearly seen in the case of the country’s most 
widely consumed food, the /arepa/, a corn patty made from precooked corn 
flour. By focusing on what we call the 
/maíz-harina-arepa/ (corn-flour-arepa) complex, we can trace the history 
of food politics in Venezuela.

The complex dates back to precolonial times, when corn, inextricably 
linked with the /conuco/, figured prominently in indigenous traditions, 
from cosmologies to foodways. With the colonial invasion, the Spanish 
grain of preference, wheat, together with corn and cassava, another 
Indigenous staple, helped sustain the Triangle Trade of the colonization 
project.^23 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-23>

Patterns of production, processing, and consumption of corn remained 
largely unaltered for many years after independence. This changed in the 
1960s with the introduction of precooked corn flour, which drove 
profound changes across the agrifood system. On the production end, corn 
cultivation moved from the /conuco/ into industrial monoculture 
production, dependent on certified commercial seed varieties. No less 
dramatic were changes in the processing of corn for precooked corn 
flour, in which the kernel is “dehulled, degermed, precooked, dried, 
flaked, and milled.”^24 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-24> In 
the process, its more nutritious outer layers are removed, yielding a 
nutritionally poor substance lacking in vitamins and minerals that then 
requires fortification to meet basic dietary standards. Inevitably, most 
precooked corn flour was used for arepas, dramatically reducing their 
preparation time. The food quickly became the principal staple of 
Venezuela’s poor working class, and within four decades, pre-cooked corn 
flour came to represent 88 percent of all corn consumed in the 
country.^25 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-25>

Ever since the first commercialization of precooked corn flour, one 
brand, Harina PAN, has become synonymous with the product—to the point 
that its name is used interchangeably with the generic term /harina 
precocida/. PAN stands for Productos Alimenticios Nacionales, National 
Food Products, and is a homonym of /pan/, bread. Despite the humble 
origins portrayed in the company’s marketing campaigns, its owners, the 
Mendoza Fleury family, come from a long lineage traceable back to the 
colonial elite, and have held key posts in both government and business 
for generations.^26 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-26> Today 
they are among the most powerful families in the country and best known 
as the owners of Empresas Polar, the conglomerate that supplies the most 
widely consumed foods and beverages in Venezuela, particularly arepas 
and beer. Polar, a Venezuelan subsidiary of PepsiCo, is the largest 
private company in the country, with products reaching global markets, 
and it controls an estimated 50 to 60 percent of Venezuela’s supply of 
precooked corn flour.^27 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-27> Such 
a degree of control is only possible through a combination of vertical 
integration and concentration, strategic links with the state, and 
well-crafted marketing in both public and private spaces, including the 
most intimate spaces of everyday life. On the production side, Polar’s 
Fundación Danac, with more than 600 proprietary corn varieties, has come 
to control much of the genetic base of Venezuela’s certified corn seeds, 
influencing research and seed certification.^28 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-28> On 
the distribution end, Polar is a key shareholder in the Cada supermarket 
chain, and in 1992 partnered with the Dutch firm SHV to launch 
Venezuela’s largest hypermarket chain, Makro.

Polar’s involvement in the retail sector has secured important 
distribution channels, but its primary aim was to secure the market. 
Among its earliest marketing strategies was to target Venezuelan 
housewives, including training thousands of women to go into their 
neighborhoods and teach other women how to make arepas from Harina PAN. 
 From there, Polar has employed a wide range of tactics reaching 
multiple segments of society, from billboards, television, and print 
media, to sponsorship of key cultural events, to research and publishing 
(through its Fundación Polar), to a prestigious award for scientists 
(the Premio Polar) to forms of “corporate social responsibility” that 
have garnered international attention.^29 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-29>Through 
these and other means, Polar has positioned Harina PAN as “the brand of 
birth of all Venezuelans.”^30 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-30> Given 
the product’s ubiquity in Venezuelan households, this claim is less 
outlandish than it sounds. Perhaps most telling of the sheer extent of 
Polar’s penetration into the everyday life of Venezuelans is the common 
equation of its products, most of all Harina PAN, with food itself—the 
idea that without Polar, there is no food. This phenomenon has not been 
lost on the company, which retains the ability to keep its products off 
the shelves just as readily as its ability to keep them on—a point to 
which we will return.

Since its emergence in 1999, the Bolivarian Revolution has had a complex 
and often tense relationship with Polar, even while forging alternatives 
within the /maíz-harina-arepa/ complex, particularly through 
partnerships between state institutions and farming communities. These 
projects center on nationwide planning and coordination of corn 
production, coupled with public financing, and primarily involve 
cooperatives on former /latifundio/ lands recovered through the agrarian 
reform process. Efforts at reform have also been made in the processing 
of corn products, though these have yet to reach a significant scale of 
production.

Polar thus maintains relative hegemony over corn flour production, and 
beyond its physical control, the company wields enormous cultural and 
symbolic power as the brand of preference of most Venezuelans. But if 
relations between Polar and the government have been fraught over the 
course of the Bolivarian Revolution, they have nevertheless not been 
entirely oppositional, and deep ties still bind the two across the 
/maíz-harina-arepa/ complex. This includes the previously mentioned 
provision of money for food importation at highly subsidized rates, of 
which Polar is among the top recipients.^31 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-31> Today 
such linkages are being further solidified.Food Lines and Fault Lines

As we have seen, the Venezuelan food system has long been shaped by the 
pushes and pulls of capital, society, and the state, in a delicate 
balance of forces characterized by both deep tensions and deep ties, 
with repercussions felt throughout everyday life. The fragility of this 
balance has come to the fore in recent years, particularly since 2013, 
with the persistence of long food lines that are by now emblematic of 
present-day Venezuela, images of which are endlessly reproduced by the 
international press. The next set of images to reach international 
audiences, first in 2014 and much more intensely in 2017, were of “the 
people” taking to the streets. The story was one of spontaneous “food 
riots” that over time combined with more organized “pro-democracy” 
protests, as part of a global surge of popular uprisings against 
authoritarian regimes. The riots, according to the prevailing narrative, 
were sparked by the lines, which were themselves the result of scarcity 
brought about by the drop in oil prices, combined with government 
mismanagement. This combination of factors has come to mark what is 
widely regarded as the current crisis of Venezuela’s food system, part 
of a broader political and economic emergency facing the nation. 
However, a closer look at the current situation and its defining 
features provides a fuller and more nuanced understanding of events.

First, it is important to look carefully at the food lines: their 
composition, their location, and what products are being sought. The 
people waiting in these lines have overwhelmingly been poor 
working-class women—an attack on both everyday life at the household 
level, as well as on the popular organization of the Bolivarian 
Revolution, in which women have played a key role. The lines have also 
largely formed outside supermarkets, where consumers wait to access 
certain specific items that have mostly gone missing from the shelves. 
These consist of the most consumed industrially processed products in 
the Venezuelan food basket, particularly precooked corn flour. The 
specific selection of these missing items—those deemed most essential to 
the population—tends not to make the headlines, and this points to a 
wider gap in media narratives. For while precooked corn flour has gone 
missing, corn-based porridge has remained available; milk powder 
disappeared from the shelves, but fresh dairy products like cheeses can 
still be found, and so on.

Several other important factors point to holes in the dominant scarcity 
narrative. First, the same items missing from shelves have continued to 
be found in restaurants. Second, by their own accounting, private food 
companies, including Polar, continued to maintain steady production 
levels at least through 2015.^32 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-32> In 
a 2016 interview, in fact, a representative from Polar spoke of the 
recent addition of new products such as teas and gelatins to their 
Venezuelan lines.^33 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-33> Third, 
even before the government mounted a widespread response to the 
shortages (as described below), corn flour consumption levels among both 
higher- and lower-income sectors of the population remained steady from 
2012 to 2015.^34 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-34> Thus, 
while the shortages have undoubtedly caused tremendous anxiety and 
insecurity, and while accessing certain goods has become more 
time-consuming and complicated, Venezuelans have indeed found ways to 
obtain them.^35 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-35> In 
addition to enduring the lines, another channel has been the underground 
economy, through which goods such as corn flour are sold at a steep 
markup. While individuals have turned such practices into business 
opportunities, private enterprises have done so as well, both by 
hoarding goods for speculative purposes and by smuggling them across the 
Colombian border. The regular discovery of stockpiles further suggests 
that goods have been intentionally diverted from supermarket shelves.^36 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-36>

There are direct parallels between present-day Venezuela and Chile in 
the 1970s under Salvador Allende, where the U.S. strategy, in the words 
of Richard Nixon, was to “make the economy scream.”^37 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-37> The 
United States employed the same methods of destabilization, including a 
financial blockade, and supported the right-wing counterrevolution, 
likewise manifested in shortages, lines, and street protests, among 
other forms of disruption. The depressed prices of Chile’s main source 
of foreign exchange, copper, parallels declining oil prices Venezuela. 
While the extent of U.S. involvement in Chile’s counterrevolution would 
not be fully understood until years later, when key documents were 
declassified, overt U.S. aggression toward Venezuela is already evident 
in the intensifying economic sanctions imposed by the Obama and Trump 
administrations, as well as an all-out economic blockade that has made 
it extremely difficult for the government to make payments on food 
imports and manage its debt.^38 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-38> As 
one State Department representative put it:

    The pressure campaign is working. The financial sanctions we have
    placed on the Venezuelan Government has forced it to begin becoming
    in default, both on sovereign and PDVSA, its oil company’s debt. And
    what we are seeing because of the bad choices of the Maduro regime
    is a total economic collapse in Venezuela. So our policy is working,
    our strategy is working and we’re going to keep it on the
    Venezuelans.^39
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-39>

In Venezuela today, as in Chile in the 1970s, U.S. intervention relies 
on an ongoing counterrevolutionary effort, with elites using the 
revolutionary potential of the masses to frighten the middle class.^40 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-40> This 
brings us to another key feature of the present conjuncture: the class 
dynamics of the street protests, characterized as “food riots” in the 
dominant narrative, particularly in the latest and most intense round in 
2017. While the food lines began to appear in 2013, they grew over time, 
and are widely considered a key factor in the transfer of control of the 
National Assembly from the /chavistas/ to an opposition majority under 
the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) at the end of 2015. Among MUD’s 
campaign strategies had been its “La Ultima Cola” (The Last Line) 
commercial, depicting dissatisfied people standing in the “last line” 
they would have to endure, should they vote for the MUD, which once in 
power would do away with the lines forever.^41 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-41> Of 
particular note was the working-class slant of the commercial, with the 
demographic composition of the people in the line reflective of the 
majority of the population, in contrast to the party’s wealthier, whiter 
base. It did not take long for the MUD to return to this base, however, 
upon its electoral ascent, with the Second Vice President of the new 
National Assembly, Freddy Guevara, openly calling for “the people” (that 
is, MUD supporters) to take to the streets, “until the only option of 
the dictatorship would be to accept the less traumatic solution.”^42 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-42>

An array of demonstrations ensued, from peaceful resistance to acts of 
violence. Though portrayed in the media as nationwide, the actions were 
largely limited to the wealthiest areas of a few cities, and ranged from 
street barricades and vandalism to picnics and barbecues to candlelight 
vigils to physical assaults to the hurling of “poopootovs” of human 
feces.^43 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-43> But 
among this seemingly disparate set of tactics, protesters took precise 
aim on certain fronts, including a systematic attack on state-run social 
programs, such as the burning of buses providing subsidized public 
transportation and vandalism of public health facilities.^44 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-44> Especially 
hard hit was the state agrifood apparatus, as the National Institute of 
Nutrition was set ablaze, laboratories for the production of ecological 
farming inputs were vandalized, and supplies destined for government 
food programs were burned—including one on the order of 40 tons of 
food—along with vehicles associated with these programs.^45 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-45> Also 
among the targets, tragically, were people, specifically those seen as 
typical /chavistas/—i.e., poor and brown-skinned. The most visible of 
these was the attack on Orlando Figuera, a young Afro-Venezuelan 
supermarket worker, whose gruesome burning alive, as countless onlookers 
did nothing to intervene, was captured on video.^46 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-46> While 
Figuera did not survive his attack, another victim from a similar 
background, Carlos Ramirez, did, albeit with severe burns covering his 
body. Ramirez later recalled pleading for his life, shouting “Don’t kill 
me! I’m not /chavista/! Please don’t kill me!” as street protesters 
brutally beat him and set him ablaze.^47 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-47>

The racial motivations of these attacks associated with violent street 
protests, known as /guarimbas/, are apparent, and speak to what has been 
described as a “class/race fusion” with “deep roots in the country’s 
history.”^48 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-48> The 
protesters are mostly the grandchildren of the middle class that emerged 
in the period of modernization and “whitening,” with important links to 
the country’s elite, forming a middle class-elite alliance known as 
/sifrinaje/. The international media has largely ignored these nuances, 
but a rare and telling exception is a 2017 article in /Bloomberg 
Businessweek/ on nightlife among young protesters, whose gathering spots 
include upscale rooftop shisha bars, with one protester quoted as saying 
“You protest in the morning, but that doesn’t mean you stop living.”^49 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-49> While 
the protesters are not homogenous, those featured in the article 
challenge the narratives of repressed masses, while also highlighting 
the differentiated impacts of the protests, as some maintain their 
everyday lives in relative comfort, while others struggle to survive. 
The violent protests disproportionately affected people in the poorest 
sectors, who could not afford to skip work and for whom basic activities 
became daily struggles, between transportation shutdowns caused by 
roadblocks and fear of physical violence. Particularly disadvantaged 
were the domestic and service-sector workers who had to travel each day 
to and from the wealthier areas where the /guarimbas/ were concentrated. 
The same areas are also the sites of most supermarkets, further impeding 
food access for the poor and working class, already strained by 
shortages, lines, and attacks on government food programs.

The image promoted by the international press has been one of “the 
people” rising in response to a “humanitarian crisis” wrought by an 
“authoritarian regime.” In reality, however, the combination of peaceful 
resistance and blatant acts of /guarimba/ violence has only served to 
further isolate the popular sectors from the opposition. A look behind 
the headlines and images shows some glaring contradictions, particularly 
in the description of /guarimbas/ as “food riots,” given the class and 
racial composition of the protesters crying /hambre/ (hunger), described 
above. Furthermore, a quick glance at social media, such as posts by 
Freddy Guevara and others, dispels any illusion that the protests arose 
spontaneously. Finally, both the targets and tactics of the 
/guarimbas/—including burning food instead of redistributing it (indeed, 
food designated for the poor), along with violent assaults on the poor 
and dark-skinned—put the lie to any narrative of the /guarimbas/ as 
“food riots” of the hungry.

An event far more aptly described as a “food riot” or “food rebellion” 
was the Caracazo of 1989, mentioned above. At the time, reports in the 
/New York Times/ and other outlets made few criticisms of the government 
of President Andrés Pérez, but did include graphic accounts of mass 
graves, people lined up at morgues in search of loved ones, imposition 
of curfews, curtailing of civil liberties and press freedom, and death 
estimates upwards of 600 people, with one doctor quoted as saying “no 
country is prepared for what we have confronted this week.”^50 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-50>Today, 
in contrast, while government repression is regularly denounced in the 
/Times/ and elsewhere, a total of fourteen deaths associated with the 
2017 /guarimbas/ have been directly traced to government security 
forces, while twenty-three have been attributed to opposition 
violence.^51 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-51> While 
any government-sanctioned violence merits concern, attention, and 
investigation, it nevertheless bears asking why the international outcry 
has been so much greater than during the Caracazo, and, why, as one 
media watchdog group has noted, “the imperfect state of democracy in 
Venezuela” attracts singular attention, even as many atrocities in the 
world today go underreported.^52 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-52>

This brings us back to oil. Petroleum is central to the dominant 
narrative, which claims that the Chávez government won its popularity on 
the strength of high oil prices and personal charisma, while Maduro’s 
relative unpopularity is attributable to the plunge in prices and 
political ineptitude. Once again, this familiar story distorts the facts 
in key ways. First, as economist Luis Salas has shown, although oil 
prices did indeed rise for much of Chávez’s presidency, its peak at or 
around $100 per barrel was an aberration that occurred in the last stage 
of Chávez’s presidency, between 2010 and 2012, whereas the average price 
per barrel over the course of his presidency was closer to $55 per 
barrel.^53 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-53> (This 
happens to be right around the price at the time of writing.) Second, 
the shortages that have attracted such interest are in fact part of a 
broader trend seen over the course of the Bolivarian Revolution, through 
both periods of high and low oil prices, and particularly at politically 
heightened moments such as the lead-up to elections.^54 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-54> Furthermore, 
the most recent shortages did not begin in 2014, when oil prices 
dropped, but before, in 2013, while prices were still high.

All of this complicates simplistic narratives around present conditions 
and events in Venezuela. But perhaps the most significant gap in such 
analyses, which tend to center on the government and state, is the key 
role of capital and its relations with the state. Bearing in mind the 
revolution-counterrevolution dialectic, it is imperative to look at the 
role of the elite, whose power extends throughout much of the agrifood 
system, and who have exploited the current “crisis” to further 
consolidate their power while simultaneously seeking to dismantle 
redistributive agrifood policies. These forces have launched a material 
assault on much of the population, disproportionately impacting the poor 
and working class while further provoking an already frustrated middle 
class. They are also attacking the legitimacy of the government, both 
internally and externally, particularly by discrediting Venezuela’s 
reputation for exemplary achievements in the fight against hunger and 
toward food sovereignty.


    Resistance: ‘En Guerra Hay Que Comer’

As one Venezuelan food sovereignty activist commented on the present 
situation: “In war, one must eat.” Responses to the challenges have 
taken many forms, and while a full discussion is beyond the scope of 
this article, we will give a broad overview. First, if everyday life is 
the main battleground on which present problems are playing out, it is 
also the frontline of resistance. When the shortages began, among the 
first lines of defense to be activated was a kind of parallel solidarity 
economy, involving the sharing and bartering of food and other 
essentials among neighbors as well as a reactivation of survival 
techniques from the past. These have included a reclaiming of 
traditional food preparation techniques—by necessity, as the foods 
missing from supermarket shelves were substituted with foods that 
remained locally available, thanks to prior public efforts toward food 
sovereignty: plantains, cassava, and sweet potatoes for processed 
starches, fresh sugarcane for refined sugar, and so on. Perhaps most 
emblematic of the early days of the shortages was the substitution of 
freshly ground corn for processed (precooked) corn flour in the 
preparation of arepas, as many dusted off their grandmothers’ grinders 
and put them to use. Simultaneously, unprecedented numbers of urban 
dwellers began growing what they could on windowsills, patios, and in 
community spaces, enlivening a nascent urban agriculture movement.

In the countryside, food shortages coupled with diminished access to 
industrial inputs have prompted farmers to shift from commercial crop 
varieties to traditional staple food crops, and from agrichemicals 
toward agroecological practices, with certain parallels to Cuba’s 
“special period.” Rural people who had not been directly engaged in 
agriculture have been returning to food production, and are increasingly 
joined by their urban counterparts. The surge in interest in 
alternatives to industrially produced foods and the revaluing of the 
countryside have provided openings for social movements already working 
toward such transformations, helping forge connections between emerging 
grassroots responses and prior efforts toward food sovereignty under the 
Bolivarian Revolution. As one longtime activist and government official 
reflected: “We had the vision, and had many things in place, but what we 
lacked was urgency.… Now we have the urgency, we know what we need to 
do, and have what we need to do it.”^55 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-55> One 
example is the rural /comuna/ in the northwestern state of El Maízal in 
Lara, a product of both the above-mentioned agrarian reform process and 
the construction of /comunas/. When the shortages struck, the members of 
El Maízal had already been working hard toward food sovereignty since 
2009, particularly in corn and livestock production, and were able to 
help meet the food needs of up to 15,000 families in surrounding 
communities.^56 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-56>Another 
grassroots effort, Plan Pueblo a Pueblo (People to People Plan), has 
built on the preexisting organization of the /comunas/ to forge direct 
links between rural producers and urban inhabitants. Formed in 2015, it 
already reaches over 60,000 urban working-class families with regular 
distributions of affordable fresh food. Other grassroots initiatives 
include the Feria Conuquera (Conuco Fair), a large monthly alternative 
market in Caracas featuring agroecologically produced fresh foods and 
artisanal versions of many of the products missing from supermarket 
shelves, the Mano a Mano Intercambio Agroecologico (Hand to Hand 
Agroecological Exchange) bridging the urban-rural divide in the Andes, 
and the Plan Popular de Semillas (People’s Seed Plan), an offshoot of 
the new national Seed Law passed through a bottom-up policy-making 
process in 2015.^57 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-57>

There has also been a host of government responses to the shortages. 
Among the first was a reorganization of public management to prioritize 
food sovereignty, including the creation of three separate ministries 
out of the Ministry of Agriculture and Land in early 2016: the Ministry 
of Urban Agriculture (believed to be the first of its kind globally); 
the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture; and the Ministry of 
Agricultural Production. This was followed by the creation of the Great 
Sovereign Supply Mission, an umbrella body focused on securing national 
supplies of food, medicine, and other basic goods. Among the government 
responses to the shortages, those most intimately linked with popular 
organizing are the Comités Locales de Abastecimiento y Producción (Local 
Provisioning and Production Committees), known as CLAPs. CLAPs were 
rapidly rolled out in 2016, initially targeting the poorest fifth of the 
population, and now reach well over half. Through the CLAPs, the 
government purchases food directly from suppliers, both private and 
public, and coordinates with community organizations to distribute mixed 
food packages to individual households. Communities are responsible for 
organizing themselves into CLAPs, conducting local censuses, and running 
regular distributions, in which the food is sold at subsidized prices in 
units of twelve to fifteen kilograms. Through a massive coordinated push 
from both above and below, CLAPs reached an estimated two million 
families in their first year, and today there are more than thirty 
thousand CLAPs throughout the country, with the aim of reaching six 
million families—nearly three-quarters of the population—with regular 
distributions by the end of 2018.^58 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-58>

CLAPs have had a mixed reception among food sovereignty activists, who 
note their dependence on industrialized foods, half of which come 
through the above-mentioned food importation complex. At the same time, 
CLAPs have played a key role in mitigating the worst effects of the 
shortages, and have become important vehicles for citizen organizing 
around food, with 50 percent of CLAPs also directly involved in food 
production. Food sovereignty activists (including those of Pueblo a 
Pueblo and El Maízal) are thus increasingly opting to partner with the 
CLAPs and attempting to push them in more transformative directions, as 
part of a long-term vision of /agricultura cero divisas/, or 
“zero-dollar agriculture.”


    Conclusion

The situation confronting Venezuela today is far more complex than that 
portrayed in the dominant narrative, and it demands more thorough 
analysis. Through the lens of food and a focus on questions of power 
related to race, class, gender, and geography, new elements emerge that 
are key to understanding the present conjuncture. These include (1) food 
as a vehicle for social differentiation over time, most fundamentally in 
the creation and maintenance of an elite, an elite-aligned middle class, 
and a class of “others”; (2) the concentration and consolidation of 
power in the agrifood system, maintained through elite alliances, both 
within and outside of the state structure, and through both overt and 
hidden forms of power; (3) increasing homogenization, uniformity, and 
controllability of the agrifood system, from production and importation 
to consumption, through highly racialized notions of science and 
modernity; (4) marketing strategies that forge intimate relationships 
with the public so that specific industrially processed foods pervade 
everyday life; (5) dependency on monopolized supply channels and on 
supermarkets for access to such products; (6) the disappearance of such 
products, constituting an attack on everyday life, particularly that of 
the “others,” especially women; (7) the implication of the state in the 
products’ disappearance, while the role of private capital remains 
largely hidden; (8) the attempted consolidation of power by the elite 
through proposals for the restoration of the missing products (and of 
“order” more generally), in opposition to state programs and policies, 
with appeals to the working class “others”; (9) a rallying of the middle 
class in the name of “the people,” against the government and its 
alliance with the “others,” by coopting social justice imagery while 
committing racialized acts of violence; and, all the while, (10) a 
further strengthening of state-capital relations, constituting a further 
concentration and consolidation of power in the agrifood system.

While far from a comprehensive list, these elements reflect emerging 
trends in Venezuela today, stemming from elite alliances long in the 
making. Of particular note are the invisible—or so ubiquitous as to 
effectively be invisible—mechanisms of control in the realm of everyday 
life that facilitate the exertion of dominance over the population, 
especially the working poor. This is particularly true of everyday 
practices around food. Through processes of colonization, modernization, 
and today, globalization, the entire structure of the modern industrial 
food system—i.e., offering foods appealing to the tastes of the masses 
(tastes conditioned over time), but in a highly controlled and 
controlling way—can readily be made into a tool of control and 
domination, as in Venezuela today. However, as we have seen, food is 
also being used as a means of resistance.

The dominant narrative tends to obscure not only the main drivers of the 
current crisis, but also the many responses coming from the grassroots. 
This phenomenon is linked to the common portrayal of the Venezuelan 
working class as passive victims rather than active agents. The same 
stereotypes and “othering” that led to the common perception that most 
Venezuelans were blindly following Chávez, with his petrodollars and 
charisma, are today leading international media to ignore, among other 
things, the unprecedented popular advances toward food sovereignty 
manifesting at present. Such stereotypes of the poor and poverty are so 
pervasive that few questions were asked when a /New York Times/ article 
on starvation in Venezuela featured a picture of people eating one of 
the country’s most popular dishes, or when an article in the 
/Guardian/ entitled “Hunger Eats Away at Venezuela’s Soul as Its People 
Struggle to Survive” reported that in the fishing village of Chuao, 
“diets have shifted back to patterns more familiar to parents and 
grandparents, to fish, root vegetables and bananas”—the type of dish for 
which many foodies would pay dearly.^59 
<https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-59>

While these contradictions might be painfully, even laughably apparent 
to the average Venezuelan, such stories serve as powerful mechanisms 
reinforcing the dominant narrative on Venezuela and shaping 
international opinion. While we might expect as much from the Western 
mainstream media, it bears asking why the same narrative is reproduced 
so seemingly uncritically in intellectual and academic circles, 
including those of the left. Could it be that we do not always leave our 
own biases at the door, either?

This is where the importance of reflexivity comes in, as well as that of 
praxis-based partnerships among scholars and grassroots movements, to 
ensure that events and experiences we might not directly encounter 
ourselves, from our own places of power and privilege, do not become 
invisible, and that we question narratives that too comfortably fit our 
own realities. As scholars and activists, we are faced with a choice, as 
each day brings new forms of aggression against the government, people, 
and process in Venezuela by the United States and its allies. We can 
wait and offer post-mortem analyses of what could have been, or we can 
join now with Venezuelan grassroots movements—not uncritically, as 
constructive critique is needed more now than ever, but unequivocal in 
our solidarity with their struggles. We can make pronouncements about 
the “end of the cycle” of the rising left in Latin America, or we can 
stand with those who see no place for themselves at “the end of the 
cycle”: those for whom—and by whom—history is still being written, and 
for whom giving up is not an option.

/*Ana Felicien* is a researcher at the Venezuelan Institute of 
Scientific Research and a founding member of the Semillas del Pueblo 
(Seeds of the People) movement. *Christina M. Schiavoni* is a food 
sovereignty activist and doctoral researcher at the International 
Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. *Liccia Romero* is a professor 
of ecology at the University of the Andes in Mérida, Venezuela, and a 
founding member of Mano a Mano–Intercambio Agroecológico (Hand to 
Hand–Agroecological Exchange)./


    Notes

 1. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-1-backlink>This
    article is adapted from a paper presented at the first international
    conference of the Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative (ERPI),
    held at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague,
    March 17–18, 2018. The authors wish to thank the ERPI team, as well
    Fred Magdoff, William Camacaro, and the many others, particularly
    grassroots movements in Venezuela, who have contributed to this work.
 2. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-2-backlink>For
    an example of the limited range of debate on Venezuela in academic
    circles, see “Debates: On Venezuela” in the fall 2017 issue of LASA
    Forum.
 3. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-3-backlink>George
    Reid Andrews, “Spanish American Independence: A Structural
    Analysis,” Latin American Perspectives 12, no. 1 (1985): 105–32.
 4. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-4-backlink>Gonzalo
    M. Quintero Saravia, Soldado de Tierra y Mar: Pablo Morillo, el
    Pacificador (Madrid: Editorial EDAF, 2017).
 5. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-5-backlink>Brian
    Stuart McBeth, Juan Vicente Gómez and the Oil Companies in
    Venezuela, 1908–1935 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).
 6. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-6-backlink>Josefina
    Rios de Hernandez and Nelson Prato, Las Transformaciones de la
    Agricultura Venezolana: De la Agroexportación a la
    Agroindustria (Caracas: Fondo Editorial Tropykos, 1990).
 7. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-7-backlink>Darlene
    Rivas, Missionary Capitalist: Nelson Rockefeller in
    Venezuela (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002).
 8. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-8-backlink>Froilán
    Ramos Rodríguez, “La Inmigración en la Administración de Pérez
    Jiménez (1952–1958),” CONHISREMI: Revista Universitaria Arbitrada de
    Investigación y Diálogo Académico 6, no. 3 (2010): 29–43.
 9. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-9-backlink>Shane
    Hamilton, “From Bodega to Supermercado: Nelson A. Rockefeller’s
    Agro-Industrial Counterrevolution in Venezuela, 1947–1969,” paper
    presented at Yale Agrarian Studies Workshop, November 4, 2011.
10. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-10-backlink>John
    Lee Anderson, “Accelerating Revolution,” New Yorker, December 11, 2017.
11. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-11-backlink>Miguel
    Tinker Salas, “Life in a Venezuelan Oil Camp,” ReVista 15, no. 1
    (2015): 46–50.
12. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-12-backlink>According
    to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an
    average of 4.9 million people in Venezuela were undernourished each
    year from 1998 to 2000 (representing a fifth of the 2000 population
    of 24.5 million), and an average of 4.1 million from 2014–16, at the
    height of the shortages (13 percent of a total population of 31.5
    million in 2016). “El Estado de la Inseguridad Alimentaria en el
    Mundo 2002 <http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/y7352s/y7352s00.htm>,”
    FAO, 2017, http://fao.org; <http://fao.org/;%C2%A0>2017 Panorama de
    la Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutricional en América Latina y el Caribe
    <http://www.fao.org/3/a-i7914s.pdf> (Santiago: FAO and OPS, 2017).
13. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-13-backlink>See
    Miguel Angel Nuñez Nuñez, El Reto al Hambre (Merida: Universidad de
    Los Andes, 1990); Margarita López Maya, “The Venezuelan ‘Caracazo’
    of 1989: Popular Protest and Institutional Weakness,” Journal of
    Latin American Studies 35, no. 1 (2003): 117–37; Charles
    Hardy, Cowboy in Caracas: A North American’s Memoir of Venezuela’s
    Democratic Revolution (Willimantic, CT: Curbstone, 2007); and George
    Ciccariello-Maher, We Created Chávez: A People’s History of the
    Venezuelan Revolution (Durham: Duke University Press, 2013).
14. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-14-backlink>Mario
    Sanoja Obediente and Iraida Vargas Arenas, Razones para una
    Revolución (Caracas: Fundación Editorial el Perro y la Rana, 2017).
15. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-15-backlink>Oscar
    Battaglini, El 27 F para Siempre en la Memoria de Nuestro
    Pueblo (Caracas: Defensoría de Pueblo, 2011); “Dozens of Venezuelans
    Killed in Riots over Price Increases
    <https://www.nytimes.com/1989/03/01/world/dozens-of-venezuelans-killed-in-riots-over-price-increases.html>,” New
    York Times, March 1, 1989.
16. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-16-backlink>Constitution
    of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
    <http://www.venezuelaemb.or.kr/english/ConstitutionoftheBolivarianingles.pdf>,
    available at https://venezuelanalysis.com/constitution.
17. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-17-backlink>Chandrika
    Sharma, “Securing Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of
    Small-Scale and Artisanal Fisherworkers and Fishing
    Communities,” MAST 10, no. 2 (2011): 41–61; Christina Schiavoni and
    William Camacaro, “The Venezuelan Effort to Build a New Food and
    Agriculture System
    <http://dx.doi.org/10.14452/MR-061-03-2009-07_10>,” Monthly
    Review 61, no. 3 (2009): 129–41.
18. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-18-backlink>Maria
    Mercedes Alayón López, “Evaluación de las Políticas Alimentarias y
    Nutricionales en la República Bolivariana de Venezuela Periodo
    1980–2012” (master’s thesis, Universidad Simon Bolivar, 2016).
19. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-19-backlink>Ben
    McKay, Ryan Nehring, and Marygold Walsh-Dilley, “The ‘State’ of Food
    Sovereignty in Latin America: Political Projects and Alternative
    Pathways in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia,” Journal of Peasant
    Studies 41, no. 6 (2014): 1175–200; Christina M. Schiavoni, “The
    Contested Terrain of Food Sovereignty Construction: Toward a
    Historical, Relational and Interactive Approach,” Journal of Peasant
    Studies 44, no. 1 (2018): 1–32.
20. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-20-backlink>“38
    Countries Meet Anti-Hunger Target for 2015
    <http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/%20177728>,” FAO, June 12,
    2013; FAO, “Venezuela and FAO Create SANA, a New Cooperation
    Programme to Eliminate Hunger,” FAO, April 16, 2015.
21. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-21-backlink>2017
    Panorama de la Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutricional en América Latina
    y el Caribe.
22. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-22-backlink>Luis
    Enrique Gavazut Bianco, “Dólares de Maletín, Empresas Extranjeras y
    Modelo Económico Socialista
    <https://www.aporrea.org/ddhh/a184873.html>,” Aporrea, March 2014,
    http://aporrea.org <http://aporrea.org/>.
23. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-23-backlink>Emanuele
    Amodio, “Alteridades Alimentarias: Dietas Indígenas y Españolas al
    Comienzo de la Conquista de Tierra Firme,” in Emanuele Amodio and
    Luis Molina, eds., Saberes y Sabores: Antropología de la
    Alimentación en la Venezuela Colonial (Caracas: Fundación Centro
    Nacional de Estudios Históricos, 2017), 15–62.
24. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-24-backlink>Juan
    Pablo Peña­­­-Rosas et al., “Technical Considerations for Maize
    Flour and Corn Meal Fortification in Public Health,” Annals of the
    New York Academy of Sciences 1312, no. 1 (2014): 1–7.
25. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-25-backlink>Edgar
    Abreu Olivo and Elvira Ablan de Flórez, “¿Qué Ha Cambiado en
    Venezuela desde 1970 en cuanto a la Disponibilidad de Alimentos para
    el Consumo Humano?” Agroalimentaria 9, no. 19 (2004): 13–33.
26. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-26-backlink>B.
    S. McBeth, Juan Vicente Gómez and the Oil Companies in Venezuela;
    Orlando Araujo, Venezuela Violenta (Caracas: Banco Central de
    Venezuela, 2013).
27. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-27-backlink>Andres
    Schipani, “Empresas Polar: A Symbol of Resistance amid Venezuela
    Crisis
    <https://www.ft.com/content/9f038fae-d368-11e6-b06b-680c49b4b4c0>,” Financial
    Times, March 17, 2017; Pasqualina Curcio, “Concentración de la
    Producción en Pocos Afecta el Abastecimiento: Apenas 20 Empresas
    Controlan la Oferta de Alimentos y Medicinas en el País
    <http://www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve/apenas-20-empresas-controlan-oferta-alimentos-y-medicinas-pais/%202016>,” Correo
    del Orinoco, June 20, 2016.
28. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-28-backlink>Alberto
    Chassaigne-Ricciulli, Venancio Barrientos-Acosta, and Alexander
    Hernández-Jiménez, “Obtención de una Población de Maíz para
    Tolerancia a Factores Adversos en Tres Estados de
    Venezuela,” Bioagro 24, no. 3 (2012): 221–26; Alberto Chassaigne,
    “Evaluación de Híbridos Experimentales de Maíz en Fincas de
    Agricultores,” Gestión y Gerencia 4, no. 3 (2010): 4–19; “Programa
    Maíz <http://danac.org.ve/press/test/>,” Fundación Danac,
    http://danac.org; <http://danac.org/;> “Fundación Danac: El
    Semillero de Venezuela
    <http://www.quepasa.com.ve/economia/fundacion-danac-el-semillero-de-venezuela>,”
    Diario Qué Pasa, September 29, 2014, http://quepasa.com.ve
    <http://quepasa.com.ve/>.
29. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-29-backlink>Schipani,
    “Empresas Polar.”
30. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-30-backlink>Carlos
    Torelli, Globalization, Culture, and Branding (New York: Palgrave
    Macmillan, 2013).
31. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-31-backlink>Gavazut,
    “Dólares de Maletín.”
32. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-32-backlink>Pasqualina
    Curcio Curcio, The Visible Hand of the Market: Economic Warfare in
    Venezuela (Caracas: Ediciones MinCi, 2017).
33. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-33-backlink>“Declaraciones
    del Director de Empresas Polar I
    <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSmShwmm17U>,” YouTube, May 25, 2016.
34. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-34-backlink>Pasqualina
    Curcio, interview with the authors, June 2016.
35. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-35-backlink>Curcio,
    interview with the authors.
36. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-36-backlink>Frederick
    B. Mills and William Camacaro, “Venezuela Takes Control of its
    Border as Bogotá and Caracas Bring their Cases to UNASUR
    <http://www.coha.org/venezuela-colombia-border-dispute>,” Council on
    Hemispheric Affairs, September 17, 2015, http://coha.org
    <http://coha.org/>.
37. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-37-backlink>Francisco
    Domínguez, “Las Complejidades de la Seguridad y la Soberanía
    Alimentaria en Venezuela,” Revista de Políticas Públicas 20 (2016):
    157–68.
38. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-38-backlink>Mark
    Weisbrot, “Trump’s Tough New Sanctions Will Harm the People of
    Venezuela
    <http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/foreign-policy/348276-trumps-tough-venezuela-sanctions-do-more-harm-than-good>,”
    The Hill, August 28, 2017, http://thehill.com;
    <http://thehill.com/;> Roger Harris, “Lamenting Venezuela’s
    ‘Humanitarian Crisis’ While Blocking Its Resolution
    <https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/29/lamenting-venezuelas-humanitarian-crisis-while-blocking-its-resolution/>,”
    Counterpunch, December 29, 2017; Misión Verdad, “Four Effects of the
    Blockade Against Venezuela
    <https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/13529>,” Venezuela Analysis,
    December 4, 2017, http://venezuelanalysis.com
    <http://venezuelanalysis.com/>.
39. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-39-backlink>U.S.
    State Department, “Senior State Department Officials on the
    Secretary’s Travel to Austin, Texas; Mexico City, Mexico; San Carlos
    Bariloche, Argentina; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lima, Peru; Bogota,
    Colombia; and Kingston, Jamaica
    <https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2018/01/277739.htm>,” January 29,
    2018, http://state.gov <http://state.gov/>.
40. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-40-backlink>Walden
    Bello, “Counterrevolution, the Countryside and the Middle Classes:
    Lessons from Five Countries,” Journal of Peasant Studies 45, no. 1
    (2017): 21–58.
41. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-41-backlink>“La
    Última Cola,” YouTube, November 20, 2015.
42. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-42-backlink>“Guevara:
    Toda Venezuela a la Desobediencia Civil Masiva
    <http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/oposicion/guevara-toda-venezuela-desobediencia-civil-masiva_183194>,” El
    Nacional, May 19, 2017.
43. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-43-backlink>Girish
    Gupta and Christian Veron, “Venezuelans Prepare Fecal Cocktails to
    Throw at Security Forces
    <https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-feces/venezuelans-prepare-fecal-cocktails-to-throw-at-security-forces-idUSKBN1852MZ>,”
    Reuters, May 10, 2017.
44. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-44-backlink>“Queman
    Más de 50 Unidades de TransBolívar
    <http://www.primicia.com.ve/queman-51-unidades-de-transbolivar-fotos>,”
    Primicia, May 22, 2017, http://primicia.com.ve
    <http://primicia.com.ve/>.
45. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-45-backlink>“Opositores
    Atacan Edificio CVAL de Barquisimeto e Incendian Clínica Móvil de
    Misión Nevado (+Fotos)
    <http://albaciudad.org/2017/04/incendian-cval-barquisimetoclinica-movil-mision-nevado>,”
    Alba Ciudad, April 10, 2017, http://albaciudad.org;
    <http://albaciudad.org/;> David Blanco, “Fotos y Videos: Guarimberos
    Quemaron Sede del INN
    <http://www.ultimasnoticias.com.ve/noticias/sucesos/fotos-inn-despues-del-ataque-los-grupos-violentos>,” Ultimas
    Noticias, April 12, 2017, http:// ultimasnoticias.com.ve; Lucas
    Koerner, “Opposition ‘National Sit-In’ Unleashes Fresh Wave of
    Violence, 4 Dead <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/13074>,”
    Venezuela Analysis, April 25, 2017; “Venezuela Protesters Set 40
    Tons of Subsidized Food on Fire
    <https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Venezuela-Protesters-Set-40-Tons-of-Subsidized-Food-on-Fire-20170630-0017.html>,”
    Telesur, June 30, 2017, https://telesurtv.net <https://telesurtv.net/>.
46. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-46-backlink>Greg
    Grandin, “Burning Man in Venezuela
    <https://www.thenation.com/article/burning-man-venezuela>,” Nation,
    May 26, 2017.
47. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-47-backlink>“Crimes
    of Hate: Venezuelan Opposition Burns People Alive in Their Protests
    <http://theprisma.co.uk/2017/07/24/crimes-of-hate-venezuelan-opposition-burns-people-alive-in-their-protests/>,”
    The Prisma, July 24, 2017, http://theprisma.co.uk
    <http://theprisma.co.uk/>.
48. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-48-backlink>Barry
    Cannon, “Class/Race Polarisation in Venezuela and the Electoral
    Success of Hugo Chávez: A Break with the Past or the Song Remains
    the Same?” Third World Quarterly 29, no. 4 (2008): 731–48.
49. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-49-backlink>Andrew
    Rosati, “The Manhattan of Venezuela Parties Against a Backdrop of
    Crisis
    <https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-19/the-manhattan-of-venezuela-parties-against-a-backdrop-of-crisis>,” Bloomberg
    Businessweek, July 19, 2017.
50. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-50-backlink>“Dozens
    of Venezuelans Killed in Riots over Price Increases”; “Price Riots
    Erupt in Venezuela
    <http://www.nytimes.com/1989/02/28/world/price-riots-erupt-in-venezuela.html>,” New
    York Times, February 28, 1989; Marc A. Uhlig, “Lines Form at Caracas
    Morgue to Identify Kin
    <http://www.nytimes.com/1989/03/05/world/lines-form-at-caracas-morgue-to-identify-kin.html>,” New
    York Times, March 5, 1989.
51. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-51-backlink>“In
    Detail: The Deaths So Far
    <https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/13081>,” Venezuela Analysis,
    July 31, 2017.
52. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-52-backlink>“Preferred
    Conclusions: The BBC, Syria, and Venezuela
    <https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/13375>,” Venezuela Analysis,
    September 19, 2017.
53. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-53-backlink>Luis
    Salas Rodríguez, “El Mito de Chávez y el Petróleo a 100
    <http://questiondigital.com/el-mito-de-chavez-y-el-petroleo-a-100/>,” Question,
    June 15, 2016.
54. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-54-backlink>Curcio, The
    Visible Hand of the Market.
55. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-55-backlink>Ulises
    Daal, interview with the authors, January 15, 2018.
56. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-56-backlink>“Comuna
    El Maizal Garantizó Abastecimiento de Carne para 15 Mil Familias
    <http://www.albatv.org/Comuna-El-Maizal-beneficio-a-15.html>,” Alba,
    January 14, 2018, http://albatv.org <http://albatv.org/>.
57. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-57-backlink>William
    Camacaro, Frederick B. Mills, and Christina M. Schiavoni, “Venezuela
    Passes Law Banning GMOs, by Popular Demand
    <http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/01/01/venezuela-passes-law-banning-gmos-by-popular-demand-2/>,”
    Counterpunch, January 1, 2016.
58. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-58-backlink>“Memoria
    y Cuenta 2017: Los CLAP Tienen la Meta Permanente de Llegar a 6
    millones de Hogares en 2018
    <http://www.correodelorinoco.gob.ve/memoria-y-cuenta-2017-los-clap-tienen-la-meta-permanente-de-llegar-a-6-millones-de-hogares-en-2018>,” Correo
    del Orinoco, January 15, 2018.
59. ↩
    <https://monthlyreview.org/2018/06/01/the-politics-of-food-in-venezuela/#endnote-59-backlink>Meridith
    Kohut and Isayen Herrera, “As Venezuela Collapses, Children Are
    Dying of Hunger
    <https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/12/17/world/americas/venezuela-children-starving.html>,” New
    York Times, December 17, 2017; Emma Graham-Harrison, “Hunger Eats
    Away at Venezuela’s Soul as Its People Struggle to Survive
    <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/26/nicolas-maduro-donald-trump-venezuela-hunger>,” Guardian,
    August 27, 2017.

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