Manuel Rueda published a story yesterday about the FAO giving an award to the Venezuelan government for its efforts to reduce hunger. The story was pretty sarcastic:
Despite going through food shortages that are so severe that people line up for hours outside supermarkets for basic staples like corn flour and chicken, Venezuela is making big strides in reducing hunger. Or so the UN says.
Two interesting (well, to me at least) and unrelated points.
First, food shortages and hunger reduction are two different issues and should not be lumped together. Lines for food may mean your government is inept, but it does not mean that you are starving. And when the UN talks about hunger, it means starving. Not "I'd prefer something different for dinner but can't because there are shortages" but rather "I have nothing to eat for dinner." This doesn't excuse the shortages, but rather separates them from the idea of getting nothing--or very little--at all.
Therefore it is an empirical question. Are fewer Venezuelan truly going hungry now than in the past? Through ECLAC's website, I was able to quickly generate this:
So yes, Venezuela has greatly reduced hunger. And yes, Venezuela has shortages.
Second, Manuel Rueda is on Twitter, and his story generated a discussion there. I still really enjoy the long form of blogging, but increasingly I find that Twitter is the place where interchange happens. The 140 character limitation is indeed, a limitation, but at the same time it forces you to get to the point quickly, and you can have pretty rapid discussion (as happened yesterday).