Monday, September 05, 2016

ON THE EDGE - Venezuela's Food Crisis

"A growing, catastrophic food crisis sows unrest in Venezuela" PBS NewsHour 9/1/2016


SUMMARY:  In Venezuela, hundreds of thousands came out in protest against President Nicolas Maduro, whose approval ratings have reached record lows.  The cause for discontent:  Food is now incredibly scarce and far too expensive to buy, and the hunger is leading to and caused by growing corruption.  Nathan Halverson of Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting reports from Caracas.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  In Caracas, today, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans turned out to protest against President Nicolas Maduro's government and called for an end to his rule.

The country has been plagued by a deepening economic crisis, corruption, crime, all of which have contributed to a worsening food shortage.

Nathan Halverson of Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting recently visited Caracas,.

NATHAN HALVERSON, Center for Investigative Reporting:  Well before sunrise, hungry Venezuelans are waiting outside grocery stores praying for food trucks to arrive.  By mid-morning, with streets crowded with anxious faces, there is little hope.

WOMAN (through translator):  There is only butter and oil.  We need them to send us more food.

QUESTION (through translator):  When did you get here?

WOMAN (through translator):  At 4:00 a.m.

MAN (through translator):  I got here at 8:00 p.m. last night.

As Venezuelans watch their country crumble and their desperation and hunger spill into the streets, their anger with President Nicolas Maduro and his party has become explosive.

WOMAN (through translator):  This is what's happening in Venezuela.  We're starving.  We're struggling, thanks to this government.  It's the Maduro diet.

NATHAN HALVERSON:  Police now guard grocery stores across the country, holding back the hungry and volatile mobs.

MAN (through translator):  Why are you taking me out of line? I was here early.  I also need food.

NATHAN HALVERSON:  Some 90 percent of Venezuelans now report that food has become too expensive to buy.  Hungry mobs are increasingly rioting and looting bakeries and food trucks.  This has forced everyday people to try and calm desperate crowds, like this grocery store manager.

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