Sun, Apr 14, 2013 - Page 9 News List

In Venezuela election, food
is a major voting issue

With much of the nation’s food now imported, food prices and the revitalization of local agriculture have become a key battleground ahead of today’s vote

By James Anderson  /  AP, CARACAS, Venezuela

In a skewed and often irrational market, the vendors at Guaicapuro do what they can.

Dexnmit Gonzalez’s family sells chicken and eggs at 50 percent more than official prices. The government-set prices are posted on a board he’s flipped around so customers cannot see them, but which can be quickly displayed should a price inspector come around.

“Between us,” Gonzalez said, “we cannot sell at official prices.”

On Saturday last week, many shoppers walked away from a display case half-stocked with scrawny chicken breasts. Gonzalez brought out a healthy chicken breast and held it in his palms.

“This is very scarce,” he said. “Nothing’s guaranteed.”

Across the way, Rocky Galviz, 42, sells pig feet, cuts of meat and turkey beneath a sign urging shoppers to denounce price gouging to the “Institute for the Defense of People Seeking Goods and Services.” Galviz confides he must sell his Brazilian meat at 50 percent above official prices to make ends meet.

The government can sell its own imports of Brazilian meat at state prices, Galviz complained.

“That is unfair competition,” he said.

AP writers Alexandra Olson and Frank Bajak contributed to this story.

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