29 May 2008

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Rice

No, not Condi, this stuff:

Sometime between last year and the present world demand for petroleum and rice must have doubled because the prices certainly have.

Oil prices are inflated because of speculators selling dollars and putting their money in oil which makes the dollar go down which makes the speculators sell more dollars to buy more oil which…well you get the idea…buy a Vespa.

But Rice? Did the rest of the world all of sudden start eating rice and beans? As far as I can tell there are no serious production problems and crops seem to be at average levels, yet rice prices, like the prices of most food, continue to rise-tripled in recent months. Supposedly due to demand as if everyone got the munchies all at once.

For poor countries, like Haiti, these developments are devastating. For Cuba, it is dangerous. It’s not like Cubans can take out their new cell phone and call a distributor in the States or Viet-Nam or India and buy a few tons. There’s only one importer and one seller in Cuba’s command economy, Raúl.

So if Raúl wants to continue his honeymoon with the international press, he can’t afford to have a visible hunger crisis in the streets that even the sympathetic fans of the tyranny can’t look the other way from. Shortages and skinny, under nourished citizens are admired and even idolized in studies, but food riots aren’t.

So to keep his PR machine well oiled and enough rice in the bellies of his captive workforce, Raúl has bought enough rice to supply the population for their monthly rations for the remaining 7 months of 2008.

From the Sun Sentinel:

Pedro Alvarez, president of the socialist island's food import company Alimport, told state television news that 18 ships, stocked mostly with Vietnamese rice, were in Cuban ports, waiting to be unloaded.

So what about for the future, if Raúl makes it that long:

Trade agreements with Vietnam assured a steady supply of rice for the next few years, Alvarez said.


Tomás Estrada-Palma said...

But they are a pack of liars. We'll see how much rice they have and how far it goes. Lies don't fill stomachs.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

As the dollar goes down, what it can buy is less. We're going to see price increases in most commodities.