Venezuela is in the midst of a tragic death spiral due to misguided economic policies, gross mismanagement, and corruption within the government. The low oil prices surely haven’t helped, as the government finds its revenue source to fund its massive 21st Century Socialism project collapsing.
There’s a food shortage, there’s a lack of access to medicine, and water is also becoming a luxury item. In fact, some Venezuelans are suffering from skin rashes, as the rationed water is not clean enough to takes baths or wash clothes. Some have reported their water ration having a brownish color that makes their family sick. By almost every socioeconomic indicator, Venezuela is a complete disaster. Its health care system lacks basic items, like soap, and the number of babies dying in various maternity wards has spiked to inexcusable levels.
Yet, food shortages are prompting looting and protests, which shouldn’t shock anyone after the Venezuelan Chamber of Food said in April that the nation’s producers had only about 15 days of inventory left. Now, families are forced to ration food, with parents deciding which meals to skip in order to give their children the hope of feeding them three meals a day (via Vice):
Every day Shirly Delgado makes a choice — whether to do without breakfast, lunch, or dinner. One of them has to go if she wants her three children to eat three times a day.
"I delay breakfast for as long as I can. Instead of doing it early, I serve it around 10 or 11 in the morning, so it overlaps with lunch," she says. "If I eat lunch, I don't have breakfast. It's one or the other."
The family lives in La Pastora, a poor area in western Caracas, where Delgado lines up for hours every day outside her neighborhood's supply store to see what she can get, which is rarely enough. It's been months since her four year old drank milk.
The National Survey of Life Conditions, known as the ENCOVI and carried out by three Venezuelan universities, found that 12 percent of the population were eating two or less meals a day in 2015.
According to the 2015 ENCOVI survey, up to 12 percent of the children living in cities do not get enough food. The figure rises to 19 percent of children who live in provincial cities. It increases to 27 out of every 100 children in rural areas.
For many families, the government program providing free breakfast and lunch for school kids used to represent a safety net. Some schools, however, are now informing parents this is no longer possible.
The Bengoa Association for Eating and Nutrition works closely with Venezuelan schools and has been monitoring nutritional levels in the country for decades. It calculates that between 25 and 30 percent of children are not going to school.
"There's a shortage in the network of distribution, and schools receive food subsidized by the government, and if they don't get food they cannot fulfill the school dining program," said Maritza Landaeta de Jiménez, a doctor attached to the association. "Mothers have no food and they prefer to leave their kids sleeping at home."
At the same time Imports have also dropped dramatically. Trade minister, Miguel Pérez Abad, recently told Reuters that imports have decreased 60 percent compared to 2015. So with local production contracts and imports tumbling, no wonder the shelves are empty. According to economist Luis Vicente León, of the consulting agency Datanálisis, about 83 percent of products are not available in Caracas. And the capital city is by far the best supplied place in the country.
Lining up outside one store, 30-year-old Nena said she had just shared one plate of food with her partner and their three children. "There's just not enough food for everyone," she said.
With protesters marching on the presidential palace last week, coupled with the egregious conditions that are forming what could be a serious humanitarian crisis, you would think that a popular uprising would force Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to resign under pressure. Maduro thinks that many of the nation’s problems are part of a conspiracy by rich Venezuelans bankrolled by foreign agitators. It’s insane. Maduro, Chavez’s successor, benefits from the protection of the country’s own brownshirt brigades known as “colectivos,” who break up opposition rallies and demonstrations. Maduro has them to thank for providing a buffer that allows him to fan his left wing nonsense to the masses. In the meantime, his citizens sift through garbage cans for food.
Hoy hubo protestas para pedir comida en— Alicia Hernández (@por_puesto) June 7, 2016
Valera, Valencia, Carora, Puerto Cabello, Boca de Uchire, Maturín, Caracas y Margarita.
Translation: Today there were protests for ordering food in Valera, Valencia, Carora, Puerto Cabello, Boca de Uchire, Maturin, Caracas and Margarita.