Let them eat rabbit? Venezuelans heading for starvation - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, June 17, 2021
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Let them eat rabbit? Venezuelans heading for starvation

In 2009, Venezuela offered heating oil to Alaska villages that were struggling to pay for their winter fuel.

It was Venezuela’s way of shaming President George W. Bush, who then-President Hugo Chavez referred to as “the devil,” during a speech at the United Nations.

That year Sen. Bernie Sanders criticized income inequality and the American economy: “These days, the American dream is more apt to be realized in South America, in places such as Ecuador, Venezuela and Argentina, where incomes are actually more equal today than they are in the land of Horatio Alger.”

This is, of course, the Bernie Sanders who won the Alaska Democratic caucuses in 2016 by a landslide, with 81 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 19 percent. Alaska Democrats trend toward the Bernie end of the political spectrum.

Back in 2009, a number of villages in Alaska embraced th Venezuelan government’s offer. About 15,000 Alaska households received 100 gallons each of heating oil over two winters. They were villages like Noatak and Gambell, where people were locking their oil tanks against thieves.

SOCIALISM FAILS AGAIN

Today, Venezuelans want out. They are living in an apocalyptic nightmare, where crime is at war-like levels and people are starving, while the military gets fat. It’s every man, woman, and child for themselves.

The average Venezuelan has lost 19 pounds over the past year due to food shortages. Today, the socialist government is telling them to eat rabbits.

President Nicolas Maduro is preaching the “Rabbit Plan” to his starving people. Unveiling the plan on Wednesday, he acknowledged that most Venezuelans see rabbits as cute pets. But they need to see them as food, he said.

“For animal protein, which is such an important issue, a ‘rabbit plan’ has been approved because rabbits also breed like rabbits,” he said.

Freddy Bernal, the Venezuelan agriculture minister, found that after the government gave rabbits away in a demonstration program, people were putting bows on them and keeping them as pets, according to BBC news. They even allowed them to sleep in their beds with them.

“There is a cultural problem, because we have been taught that the rabbit is very nice. But seeing it from the point of view of the (economic) war, one rabbit arrives and in two months we have a rabbit of two and a half kilos,” Bernal said.

The ‘Rabbit Plan” might be a bad cultural fit, but it’s also a nutritional problem, if history is any indication.

RABBIT STARVATION

Accounts from early explorers in Alaska refer to patterns of starvation, when pioneers and trappers subsisted on rabbits, which are notoriously lean. Although the men would eat their fill of rabbit, they would waste away. Lt. Henry Allen in 1882 led an epic expedition up the Copper River Valley, and finding conditions harsh, the men subsisted on roots and rabbits in what sourdoughs called “hunger country,” described in the book Alaska’s History: The People, Land, and Events of the North Country.

The Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson studied the diets of northern indigenous people and concluded that the ones who had blubber in their diets were the fortunate ones, “for they never suffer from fat-hunger. This trouble is worst, so far as North America is concerned, among those forest Indians who depend at times on rabbits, the leanest animal in the North, and who develop the extreme fat-hunger known as rabbit-starvation.

“Rabbit eaters, if they have no fat from another source—beaver, moose, fish—will develop diarrhea in about a week, with headache, lassitude and vague discomfort. If there are enough rabbits, the people eat till their stomachs are distended; but no matter how much they eat they feel unsatisfied.”

During the Greely Arctic Expedition 1881–1884, 19 of the 25 explorers died of “rabbit starvation,” not from eating rabbits but from cannibalizing the lean flesh of the already deceased members of the exploration party.

In Venezuela, much food grows easily, people spend hours picking up grains of rice or corn that fall from delivery trucks.

Unlike Chavez, who famously offered oil to Alaska Native villages, President Maduro is refusing humanitarian assistance to help his 30 million people avoid starvation.

Instead of embracing free market principles, Maduro has the Venezuelan military controlling the entire means of production — everything from food prices to distribution, taking kickbacks, and running a food racket in a country where food should be plentiful, but is nowhere to be found.

LESSONS FOR ALASKA

It’s a lesson for Alaska, now that Gov. Bill Walker has positioned the State to take over large oil and gas projects through policies that chase private companies out of the state.

Last year the governor wrote a warning letter to Exxon: “”Please do not take steps to thwart Alaska’s ability to monetize our gas.” The letter was obtained by the Alaska Dispatch News and was written as the state was taking over the AK-LNG project from the private sector.

Since then, the Walker Administration has refused to allow Exxon to start work on its expansion plan of development for Point Thomson, and threatened actions which some observers say may cause Exxon to give its leases back and reduce its work in the State.

Walker was ostensibly a Republican before he ran with a Democrat in the general election in 2014, but has embraced socialistic policies since taking office, both by moving aggressively against oil companies, expanding socialized medicine, and pushing for broad-based taxes to support his vision of a large government sector.

But at least he hasn’t suggested a Rabbit Plan for Alaska.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • A very good article Suzanne. If only the Bernie supporters could take a little trip to Venezuela and see what socialism is really like.

  • Walker hasn’t suggested a rabbit plan for Alaska YET. Thanks again for an excellent perspective.

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