Without Limits


Nicolas Maduro

La Casona

Calle 1, Caracas 1071,




Firstly, apologies for writing this letter in English, but my Spanish is limited. I was intrigued recently to read of your innovative idea for combating opportunists taking advantage of the subsidy your government gives to Venezuelan producers, (by purchasing vast quantities of foodstuffs from the Venezuelan supermarkets ‘apparently up to 40% of all foodstuffs produced’, and smuggling them over the border into Colombia, and then selling them at a more favourably rate than the local produce) by introducing a mandatory fingerprinting system in all Venezuelan supermarkets.

Your novel notion will definitely pour cold water on the opportunist’s smuggling trade in vast purchases of Venezuelan foodstuffs and their subsequent sales (of these Venezuelan goods) to the Colombian supermarkets, but this shrewd fingerprinting system also gives the same drenching to the ordinary purchasing Venezuelans who do not smuggle.

Ideally I’d imagine you’d like to restrict these opportunist-smugglers and at the same time not restrict ordinary non-smuggling Venezuelans from purchasing?

Your Irish correspondent has a suggestion that can achieve both aims.

Remove the subsidy from Venezuelan producers. By taking the subsidy away from the producers you restrict the opportunist-smugglers from their trade in vast purchasing of Venezuelan’s foodstuffs and subsequent selling of these provisions to Colombian supermarkets, as there is no gain to be made from this activity (prices of Venezuelan and Colombian foods become similar); also this action has the effect of not restricting the ordinary non-smuggling Venezuelan from purchasing as much as he/she likes.

This strategy may upset your local producers (losing their subsidy), but you could pour oil on this troubled water by offering them free-services e.g. free repairs on their machinery. The cost of greasing these free-services could easily be paid for by the savings made in not subsidising food production and not finger-printing food distribution.

I’ll say cheerio for now (am off to my Spanish lessons), but good luck Nicholas with oiling the economic wheels of Venezuela

Your Irish Correspondent,

Poraic Cahill

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