Corporations Hoard Milk in Venezuela

In Venezuela the last few months, has been a shortage of milk. Since January Merida has had a tremendous shortage of powdered milk and cooking oil at the regulated price. In Caracas there is also a shortage but it is not as bad. Instantly the right wing media attacked Bolivarian President Hugo Chavez, claiming that socialism in Venezuela is to blame. However now after all the blustering and condemnations of Chavez, it has been reveal that milk corporations, Italian Parmalat and Swiss Nestle have been hoarding milk to raise the price. The wealthy elite have been hoarding milk, creating a shortage in order to generate greater profits.

On November 26 the government seized a Parmalat warehouse that contained 210 tonnes of powered milk. A statement from Parmalat claimed the move was strange since the milk was destined for the state company CASA. In fact the government imports milk and then distributes it to private companies. This milk was being hoarded and create artificial shortages with the dual purpose of raising the price and trying to make the government look like it was causing the shortage. Parmalat eventually issued a public apology.

“On this occasion we offer our most sincere apologies for not having achieved our objective as a company and adequately communicating what happened in the specific case of the quota of commissioned milk…we don’t want to distort the efforts of your honourable government …towards the national supply of foods and the protection of consumers… we regret the unease created by our [previous] statement”.

Major general Luis Motta Dominguez announced that the Bolivarian National Guard and Institute for the Defence of People’s Access to Goods and Services discovered 260 tonnes of milk being hidden in different states throughout the country. He said they found vast amounts of hidden product near municipal markets. In response, the Swiss Nestle was fined 5,000 tax units, or US$ 87,000.

All of these actions by Nestle and Parmalat are in reaction to the new Law of Costs and Fair Prices, a law passed last month that prevents price speculation on consumer goods. It also enables the government to limit prices charged for goods and services. This shortage is completely artificially created. According to the land and agriculture minister Juan Loyo, Venezuela has increased the local milk production by 50% between 1998 and 2010.

This hoarding of milk reminds me of the Kulaks of the Soviet Union. The people who hoarded grain during a shortage in order to receive a better price for the product. People who left so many to die simply so they could make more money. While this shortage of milk is nowhere near as serious as the hoarding of grain, it reminds us that the ruling class is thoroughly willing to have have people suffer in order to increase profits that are already in the billions. It also reminds us of how the bourgeoisie use artificially created shortages to blame on socialist leaders. Weather and hoarding was used to blame Stalin for millions of deaths, this shortage of milk is blamed on Hugo Chavez. This is how dishonest the bourgeoisie really are.