Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Venezuela Will Force Workers Into Agriculture

The Venezuelan Ministry of Labor* has declared that workers can be reassigned on a temporary basis to do agricultural work. Here is the exact wording from the government's Gaceta Oficial 40.950 from July 22, 2016.

Resolución mediante la cual se establece un régimen laboral transitorio de carácter obligatorio y estratégico para todas las entidades de trabajo del país públicas, privadas, de propiedad social y mixtas, que contribuya con el reimpulso productivo del sector agroalimentario, estableciendo mecanismo de inserción temporal de trabajadores y trabajadoras en aquellas entidades objeto de medidas especiales implementadas para fortalecer su producción.

This is a) not a joke; b) a terrible idea; c) undemocratic; and d) a sign of terrible desperation. It should remind everyone of the infamous (and failed) 1970 sugar harvest in Cuba. It distorted the economy and made Cubans worse off.

Venezuela cannot feed itself, and food shortages are severe. The long-term solution is to work toward weaning itself off oil exports and develop stronger domestic industries. Neither Hugo Chávez nor Nicolás Maduro worked with that longer term in mind, however, and now Maduro is more fixed than ever on the short term to avoid more protests and perhaps even possible ouster from within.

Yet not only is it hard to see this measure doing any good with regard to production, it is guaranteed to make people mad, which will the make the situation worse.

I can't find any mention of this on the government's official news site. It's hard to spin as positive.

* by which I mean the Ministry of Popular Power for the Social Process of Work, but that's both confusing and long.


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