Venezuela Could Run Out of Beer

Una cerveza, por favor?

Venezuela sits atop the worlds largest oil reserves, with a proven supply of 298.3 billion barrels. So, you could be forgiven for thinking that Venezuela should be a relatively rich country, or at the very least, middle of the pack.

The reality is far different – and for the people of Venezuela – far worse. Venezuela’s economy is collapsing, having shrunk 10 per cent last year, and will shrink 8 per cent this year according to IMF projections. Inflation is estimated at 720 per cent, meaning the money in Venezuelans pockets and bank accounts is becoming increasingly worthless. Crime is surging, and even toilet paper is in short supply.

Just how bad has it gotten? Venezuela could soon run out of beer. According to a Reuters report, “Venezuela’s largest beer maker halted the last of its four production plants on Friday in a spat with the government over access to foreign currency, threatening a shortage in a nation already hit by severe scarcities of food and other products.”

Venezuela’s largest beer maker is Empresas Polar, accounting for 80 per cent of Venezuela’s beer.

Beer is very popular in Venezuela. According to a World Health Organization study reported by Live Science, Venezuela is number 11 worldwide in terms of annual beer-drinking per capita.

Though the Venezuelan government is already under severe pressure, the loss of beer production should be deeply concerning to President Nicholas Maduro and his administration. As the economy collapses, citizens will need every escape from the growing environment of fear and malaise. If beer runs out, Venezuelans will have one less thing to distract themselves from the evidence of the abject failure of their government, and popular discontent could rise even further.

A look into the deeper issues behind the growing disaster that is Venezuela will have to wait for another post. But as a citizen of a fellow oil-rich nation, take a moment to appreciate your next beer, and remember: Things could always be worse.

Read more about the Venezuela crisis