Inflammation and stories on South America

Venezuela is currently in the midst of a humanitarian aid crisis spanning nearly ten years. As a developing country in South America, Venezuela has rich natural resources but suffers from an often harsh government that has not been cooperative with foreign NGOs in the past. Though NGOs operating in and outside of Venezuela are key to solving serious dilemmas in the areas of health, human trafficking, and education, the important thing in solving the crisis is an improvement of the strained relationship between the country’s government and foreign input.

The Crisis

The Venezuelan Crisis began in 2010 under the presidency of Hugo Chavez and has continued into the second six-year-term of current president Nicolas Maduro. The Venezuelan crisis has its roots in the country’s rich oil reserves, which under encouragement from Chavez (1999-2013), composed the majority of Venezuela’s earnings from exported goods.

Social programs were created with the influx of oil money, but when oil prices dropped in 2014 these programs were scaled back, and many Venezuelans began to struggle. Inflation has continued to rise steadily since 2012 and currently, Venezuela has the highest rate of inflation globally at 18,000% as of April 2018.

The political landscape of Venezuela has been tumultuous, yet ironically rigid in the transfer of power from Chavez to Maduro. Being hand-selected by Chavez to succeed him before his own passing, Maduro’s leadership has been marked with rumors of corruption, election fraud, and instances of police brutality against protestors and the unlawful imprisonment of political rivals.

As the government continues to deny foreign aid and refuses to allow foreign companies to invest in resident NGOs, the situation is becoming a humanitarian crisis worsened by the inability of aid organizations to alleviate the suffering of Venezuelan citizens. Despite these setbacks, multiple agencies are working hard to help the people living in Venezuela.

Due to extreme poverty caused by the Crisis, many Venezuelans are left vulnerable to human trafficking, an issue running rampant in this region of Central America. Those abducted are usually women and children, though men are taken as well. In often cases, the victims have moved from a rural area to an urban location, lured by the promise of higher earnings.

The Venezuelan government has done very little to eliminate this serious issue. The U.S. Department of Labor noted in 2017 that the Venezuelan government did not report any data whatsoever on human trafficking, and did little in the past year to combat the issue besides the arrest of seven individuals involved in human smuggling.

Venezuelans also face police brutality, lack of hospitals and medicine, and a nationwide shortage of food and clean water. As thousands of refugees pour out of the country, foreign NGOs are becoming more desperate to help. Some NGOs have banded together in order to fight the Crisis.

Strength in Numbers

The most significant humanitarian cooperative spearheading foreign relief efforts in Venezuela is Cuatro Por Venezuela, a Houston-based collective of 12 NGOs working together to fight the humanitarian aid crisis. The collective utilizes the resources of a vast web of partners and NGOs operating in Texas, Florida, and Chile.

By utilizing volunteers to deliver food, medicine, and other supplies, Cuatro Por Venezuela is able to work with NGOs in Venezuela to help them assist those in need. Though unable to fund resident NGOs, Cuatro Por Venezuela can still provide supplies and volunteers to Venezuela’s own humanitarian operations.  Cuatro Por Venezuela assisted nearly 100 humanitarian organizations and medical facilities for 14 states across the nation.

Though Venezuela’s government seems likely to deny foreign aid for the foreseeable future, the Venezuelan Crisis can still be alleviated by the collective efforts of NGOs in and outside this central American nation. Cuatro Por Venezuela represents the beneficial results produced when cooperation occurs between humanitarian groups.

– Jason Crosby
Photo: Flickr

Legalizing Coca Leaf Production
A recent study on the benefits of coca leaf legalization has spurred lobbying efforts in Colombia, with advocates encouraging the country to legalize its production rather than attempting to eradicate the crop. Using coca leaves has been a traditional practice among indigenous South Americans for thousands of years. Before the leaf was harvested and manufactured into cocaine, it was chewed or made into a tea. It provides medicinal and health benefits like treating nausea and can be used for an energy boost.

Before industrialization, when working long days of hard labor, workers—especially some of the underprivileged farmers—would chew coca leaves for the effect of the stimulant but also to satiate hunger pangs while working on an empty stomach. Coca leaves also provide essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamins like A, B1, B6, C and E. Chewing and brewing coca leaves is a natural way of taking dietary supplements.

Peru and Bolivia See Benefits from Legalizing Coca Leaf Production

The government of Peru formed the National Coca Company of Peru (ENACO) in 1949, pushing for legalizing coca leaf production in order to make items and medicines derived from coca leaves. Farmers growing leaves for chewing to be sold to ENACO got their land certified for legal growth in 1978. ENACO does not only cultivate legal coca leaves for local traditional uses, but also sells its products around the world. One of the most common uses is as a natural anesthetic for eye surgery; ENACO is one of two companies that produce coca leaves for this medicinal purpose.

Coca production in Bolivia, however, is more recent. Bolivia has the third world’s largest crop of coca leaves (after Columbia and Peru) with about 67,000 acres used for farming. In 2011, the Bolivian Community Coca Company was founded by the government for the legal cultivation and purchase of coca leaves to be made into flour, ointments, and other products. In 2013, the Bolivian government sought to market coca-based toothpaste to the public with the intention of battling the illicit use of the drug. By using the drug for products like toothpaste or flour, there will be more use of coca leaves for legal industrialization and less for illegal drug trafficking.

How the Legal Coca Leaf Could Help Colombia

Legalizing coca leaf production in the long term could benefit Colombia economically, politically and socially. Allowing coca leaf farms could offset expensive anti-drug efforts like crop substitution, where the government buys out farmers of their current crop and looks to replace it with a different, legal product. However, crop substitution is costly and non-sustainable, especially if the demand for cocaine does not change. If the uses for coca leaves remain the same while their cultivation is restricted by the government, it will merely increase the price of the drug and make crime worse.

Bolivia and Peru are examples of the benefits of legalizing coca leaf production. These countries show that the medicinal benefits can be harnessed to create a market that effectively limits the illicit use of the leaves by taking away from the crops that would be used to make cocaine. Opening a legal market for coca leaves to be made into useful items like flour, ointments, toothpaste and other products would help lower the amount of drug trafficking and create new opportunities for coca leaf farmers to sell this indigenous plant.

– David Daniels
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty in South America
Substantial parts of Africa, Western Asia, South America and the Caribbean are regions that grapple with scant economic growth and poverty. South America alone consists of twelve sovereign states, most of which are subject to low per capita GDP and high rates of poverty. Here are ten facts about poverty in South America:

10 Facts About Poverty in South America

  1. South America (SA) suffered the onslaught of European colonization roughly from the 15th to the 17th Centuries. The Iberian colonial policies led to uneven distribution of land and insecure property rights, which in turn contributed to persistent economic and political inequality until the 19th and 20th Centuries. Oxfam reported in 2016 that Latin America still has the most unequal distribution of land in the world, which in turn “limits employment; increases urban poverty belts, as people are expelled from rural areas; undermines social cohesion, the quality of democracy, environmental health; and destabilizes local, national and global food systems.”
  2. In 2016, there was an estimated rise in poverty in SA from 28.5 percent in 2014 to 30.7 percent. In fact, 61 million people live in extreme poverty and 220 million people live on less that $10 a day in this region.
  3. The entire region of SA was majorly affected by the economic crises of the two largest countries on the continent — Brazil and Argentina between 1998-2002. By 2001, the IMF feared that Argentina’s fiscal policy, public debt and currency board would become unsustainable. The holdouts case in Argentina (2005) and the Petrobras scandal in Brazil (2014) later created a chaotic and fragile economic scenario. In fact, Argentina is still trying to recover from high inflation and its currency crunch. Brazil’s external debt in 2017 was 26.5 percent of its nominal GDP and government debt was 74.04 percent of the GDP. Venezuela’s wavering economic policies, economic collapse and inflation have also contributed to the scale of poverty in the region.
  4. Of the ten facts about poverty in South America, eco-political causes hold a special mention. Discovery of rampant corruption and bribery in Brazil’s state-controlled oil giant, Petrobras, and other industries led to largescale arrests of company officials and many politicians. This in turn caused a loss of jobs for thousands of employees and a huge economic set-back. A dip in international oil prices further affected the Brazilian economy, as did the the arrest of Odebrecht’s chief executive and lay-offs in 2015. The unemployment rate in Brazil remains at a high of 11.8 percent. Argentina, too, has suffered the economic consequences of a sovereign debt default since 2001. It has encountered a decline in GDP and inflation, resulting in recession. The MIT Billions Project in 2014 quoted an annual inflation rate of 40 percent in Argentina. Venezuela is on the verge of defaulting its foreign debt and has encountered a massive decline in its GDP accompanied by inflation. Ever since the 2014 economic recession, Venezuelans have been suffering from poverty, high mortality rates, unemployment, lack of medical facilities and hunger.
  5. Large-scale unemployment followed by economic recession, strict government regulations, corruption and other factors have led to the creation of a parallel or informal economy in many of these SA countries. These illegal businesses evade state-regulations, taxation, social security contributions, market standards, minimum wage/work hour policies and thrive as shadow economy. While a certain portion of the money earned is spent directly on the official economy, these underground businesses lead to tax evasion, reduced tax revenue, increased tax rates, lower wages and work hours, corruption and inflation.
  6. According to the World Hunger Report, despite being successful in tackling food insufficiency, SA saw a rise in undernutrition from 5 percent in 2015, to 5.6 percent in 2016. As of 2018, the economic crisis in Venezuela led to devastating food shortage and starvation. The United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture estimates that more than 42 million people in South America are suffering from hunger.
  7. The Word Bank observes that while more children have started going to school, there still remains a disparity in access to education based on the huge income gap in these countries. The other factor affecting education lies in the urban-rural divide, with the latter having lower rates of secondary-school enrolment.
  8. Brazil and Colombia, which make up a large portion of the region’s population, have been experiencing a decline in fertility and mortality rates alongside new health problems from industrialization and urbanization. The health infrastructure in these countries are not up-to-date and people have limited access to safe water and sanitation facilities. Economic inequality adds to the lack of equal distribution of health services and access to healthcare.
  9. Despite the scale of poverty in SA, consistent steps are being taken to ameliorate poverty across the region. Oxfam has been urging the governments to redistribute land evenly, protect territorial rights of indigenous communities, prevent depletion of natural resource and establish fair taxation. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development have been proposing ways to end rural poverty and increase employment. Since the 1990s, attempts have been made by the governments to improve the healthcare system through reforms. Several banks have been trying to ease the monetary policies and rates of interests.
  10. The 2018 World Economic Situation Prospects Report states that the region’s economy has grown by one percent in 2017 and is expected to increase to 2.5 percent in 2019. The recovery will be largely a result of improved economic activity in SA.

Future Efforts

The ten facts about poverty in South America listed here provide a general yet critical understanding of aspects of poverty in the region. Unequal land/wealth distribution, corruption and eco-political instability still remain some of the common and overarching reasons behind the region’s struggle with poverty and its aftereffects.

– Jayendrina Singha Ray
Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in South America
Current events such as protests and political upheavals in Venezuela and Brazil have drawn attention to problems plaguing South America. Some of those problems, having been left unaddressed, have caused higher rates of poverty in Latin and South America. Below are several factors considered to be major causes of poverty in South America at present.

  1. Unequal distribution of wealth
    In much of South America, particularly in well-known tourist countries, run-down slums exist next to wealthy urban areas in part due to unequal distribution of economic success. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Latin and South America are the most unequal regions in the world in terms of wealth. Corporations, politicians and unequal opportunities contribute in part to high poverty rates among the majority of the population.In Brazil, wealth being hoarded by the top one or two percent of citizens has contributed to a high number of children living and earning money on the streets because their parents can no longer support them. Despite helpful tourism revenue, poverty rates in certain popular areas of South America rise steadily because of wealth inequality.
  1. Colonialism/Racism
    In South and Latin America, poverty can become a generational epidemic because of leftover institutions and sentiments from the Casta system. Casta was a complex system of written rules based on racial segregation similar to the Hindu Caste, where people were separated into societal classes based on appearance and ethnic makeup that determined where they could live, who they could marry, what jobs they could work and more. The system was popularized by early white colonialists in the region and the lingering effects of it have been among the causes of poverty in South America.
  1. Political turmoil
    Honduras, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina and others have undergone major changes in political leadership in recent months and years, and the lack of clear democratic process in a lot of these countries has been among the causes of poverty in South America. According to the Economist, Brazil and Colombia are set to elect new presidents in the coming months, but “they will do so amongst rising public anger over corruption, amid a plethora of corruption scandals across the region in recent years that have in many cases implicated high-level politicians.”In Peru, for example, President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski narrowly avoided impeachment after it was discovered he had ties to corrupt Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, which has admitted to paying bribes to governments. As has been proven multiple times, corrupt or destabilized governments often prove disastrous for the economies of the countries they oversee, which can only have a negative effect on the poverty level in the country.
  1. Education
    In South America, the education gap mirrors the income gap between rich and poor. According to WorldFund, “74 million South Americans (about 12.4 percent of the region’s population) live on less than $2 per day. Over half of them are children. Children in the bottom income quintile complete an average of eight years of school versus over ten years completed by children in the top income quintile.” Access to quality education in South America for those living below the poverty line is incredibly rare and difficult to achieve. WorldFund states that “education investments are inadequate, poorly directed and favor high-income students.”

While conditions in South America are improving, progress in certain areas is slow. Those living in poverty in South America are often directly affected by the factors above. The introduction of more efficient and generous international aid programs to people in the region that need it is becoming more and more essential to help combat some of the causes of poverty in South America.

– Arianna Smith

Photo: Flickr

Cassava RootThe cassava root is such a versatile ingredient in the fight against poverty that some scientists are calling it a ‘miracle crop’.

It’s likely that even you have come across cassava, as it makes up the small balls in bubble tea and is the main ingredient in tapioca pudding.

While it lends a hand to some dishes in developed countries, the root is a vital component to diets in the developing world. Cassava is one of the leading food and feed plants of the world, ranking fourth among staple crops with a global production of about 160 million tons per year. The majority of cassava is grown in three regions: West Africa and the adjoining Congo basin, tropical South America and South and Southeast Asia.

The miracle crop was introduced into Africa in the 16th century by Portuguese traders from Brazil. Initially, it was adopted as a famine-reserve crop because of its nutritional value. The leaves can be prepared in a similar fashion to spinach and contain high levels of protein and vitamins A, B and C. Cassava root can be prepared in countless ways, but should not be consumed raw. They are often boiled and sliced, but they can also be dried and beaten into flour.

It is among the highest calorie value foods, containing 160 calories per 100g root. It provides more protein than sources like yams or potatoes and it is also a leading source of essential minerals like zinc, magnesium, copper, iron, manganese and potassium. Potassium is an important component of a healthy diet, helping regulate heart rate and blood pressure.

In addition to its bountiful nutritious value, the crop is perhaps one of the world’s easiest to grow. Cassava root can be grown well in poor soil with a relatively low fertility and textures ranging from sands to clay. It is drought resistant and loses its leaves in order to preserve moisture in times of limited rainfall. The plant produces new leaves when rains resume. Additionally, cassava can be grown in extreme rainfall. For these reasons, the crop requires little labor and attention and the fruits of one harvest can be consumed 6 months to 3 years after planting.

Lastly, cassava has the potential to solve more than hunger. It is possible to transform cassava from a low-yielding famine-reserve crop to a high-yielding cash crop in order to raise income and draw poor regions out of poverty. The domestic market for cassava products continues to grow and export demands are increasing.

Cassava production presents enormous opportunities for solving domestic famine and malnutrition. It could also promote economic stability and reduce poverty through trade between areas with a food surplus and a food deficit.

Jamie Enright

Photo: Flickr

 

The New HIV/AIDS of the AmericasChagas disease, a vector-borne infectious disease that is transmitted through triatomine bugs, has been dubbed “the new HIV/AIDS of the Americas.” Triatomine bugs are also known as “kissing bugs,” because the bugs will bite and defecate near the mouths of humans. Then, humans will touch or rub near their mouths, which is how the disease is spread.

Furthermore, Chagas disease is a type of neglected tropical disease, which have become increasingly virulent in North and South America. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines neglected diseases as being “largely wiped out in the more developed parts of the world and persist only in the poorest, most marginalized communities and conflict areas.” The CDC indicated that people of low socioeconomic status are more susceptible to contracting a neglected tropical disease. People of low socioeconomic status, which are increasingly reflective of minority groups such as women and people of color, are at higher risk of contracting a neglected tropical disease due to a lack of resources.

Like Chagas disease, many neglected tropical diseases are vector-borne, and they must travel through an intermediate host in order to transmit infections to humans. An example of an intermediate host that carries the specific pathogens for an abundance of neglected tropical diseases is the mosquito. Many countries in South America have climates and ecologies that are ideal for mosquitoes to flourish in.

Preventative programs in poor areas are supported by organizations such as the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO). For instance, the CDC and the WHO have both collaborated in order to support the Guinea Worm Eradication Program, which provided surveillance and diagnosed people for Guinea worms, another neglected disease.

Chagas disease is difficult to eradicate due to the fact that more than half of triatomine bugs in the United States carry the disease; however, the CDC reports that the best measures to take in order to prevent the spread of Chagas disease are vector control, blood screening and diagnosis of infection. Diagnosis of infection in pregnant women is especially important, because the disease can spread to their newborns. By continuing to follow these measures, the effect of Chagas disease can be limited, decreasing the burden on vulnerable populations.

 

Emily Santora

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in South AmericaThe regions of Central and South America, in addition to the Caribbean Islands, collectively comprise what is currently recognized as Latin America, which is home to a growing population of roughly 637.6 million inhabitants. Of the three, the twelve nations of South America comprise the majority, or about 66 percent of that population. Despite all of these countries having experienced economic turmoil, political instability and social injustices, as a whole, the issue of hunger in South America does appear to be improving.

Since 1991, hunger in South America has seen significant declines. The largest of these has been Bolivia, which had 38 percent of its population without sufficient access to food in 1991. As of 2015, it had managed to reduce this number to 15.9 percent. Other countries have also made significant strides, such as Peru, which reduced its percentage of hunger from 31.6 in 1991 to 7.5 percent in 2015.

The basis for these accomplishments was established after Latin America adopted a U.N. Millennium Development Goal in 2000. The goal was to cut hunger in half in South America and its other regions by 2015, according to a State of Food Insecurity in the World report released by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. The region fortunately accomplished this goal, and while South America still has the largest proportion of undernourished people to its population, it was able to do this at a quicker and more effective rate than Central America or the Caribbean Islands.

One reason it was likely able to do this is that a handful of countries in South America are major agricultural producers and exporters. Brazil, for example, uses 31 percent of its land for crops; the country mainly grows sugarcane, but they also are dominant producers of coffee, bananas, mangoes, coconuts, papayas and oranges. Additionally, they rank second behind the U.S. in terms of total beef production. Similarly, Argentina is also a large beef producer, and Ecuador is a dominant producer of bananas.

In fact, due to its current production levels and untapped resources, economists and agricultural experts have speculated that Latin American countries will have a decisive role to play in the coming decades when it comes to global food production, something that could certainly play to their advantage. As of 2015, Latin American food imports accounted for a mere four percent of food imports worldwide. In contrast, their food exports accounted for 16 percent of food exports worldwide.

However, there are still tens of millions of people experiencing hunger in South America today. The existence of such a problem reflects that South America’s issue is not that it lacks sufficient food resources, but that it lacks adequate methods of distributing and allowing access to these resources. This is typically reflective of a larger, systemic problem of inequality. However, if resolved, it could improve the continent’s ability to produce and distribute these resources at a rate that would allow its countries to not only be dominant economic players in the international community, but also to take care of their own citizens simultaneously.

In a world whose population is estimated to reach nine billion by 2050, and whose food demands are expected to be 60 percent higher than they are today, it is critical that Latin America, and more importantly South American governments, establish economic reform that would allow for more equal food distribution. By doing so, they could then benefit from and play a major role in assisting future food shortages across the globe.

– Hunter Mcferrin

Photo: Flickr

Chile's Level of PovertyThe number of people living below the national poverty line in Chile has varied throughout the years. This number currently stands at around three million citizens, whereas the number of people living on less than $1.90 a day has successfully reached its lowest point of 0.9 percent of the population.

Clearly, Chile’s level of poverty has fluctuated, especially seeing as how Chile was once considered to be one of the richest countries in Latin America. During this time, the country achieved the title of the first South American member of the OECD, a club mostly consisting of prosperous countries.

Poverty in Chile is often overlooked due to the lack of social equality, according to human rights expert Professor Philip Alton. While Chile’s anti-poverty programs are abundant, the middle class seems to be their primary focus, and those who are less fortunate are overlooked.

Alton calls attention to Chile’s tendency to participate in the exclusion of particular groups of people, contributing to its issue of poverty. According to Alton, “Efforts to eliminate extreme poverty in Chile cannot succeed without a concerted focus on the situation of indigenous peoples.” As with many other countries, the solution to ending poverty in Chile relies partly on spreading awareness of marginalization and privilege, as well as giving the lower class more attention and tools for success and not merely focusing on the middle class.

To put these solutions into action, the General Law of Ministries – now known as the Ministry of Finance, which formed in 1927 – has developed plans based on the roots of Chile’s level of poverty. The Ministry of Finance’s goal is to focus on long-term economic growth, rather than simply tending to the “right now.” Its mission is to create a stable economy that benefits all citizens of Chile, but especially those who are most likely to struggle with money.

The economic policy section of the Ministry of Finance is responsible for the awareness of problems within Chile’s economic system, as well as providing solutions to these issues. This helps them to prepare the national budget and contributes to bettering the community socially.

With the implementation of these kinds of plans as well as spreading awareness of poverty-causing issues, there is much hope for the poorest citizens of Chile. A better economy in Chile’s near future is looking to be promising, which will surely have positive effects on the poverty rate as well.

Noel Mcdavid

Photo: Flickr

Education in PeruA republic which first gained its independence in 1821, Peru prides itself on its continual promotion of education. Education in Peru has seriously benefited from 1996 government reforms which ensured free and compulsory education for all students between ages 5 and 16. In fact, continual reform led to the establishment of the National Superintendency of University Higher Education (SUNEDU) in 2015; this organization seeks to improve quality standards for higher education.

As a direct result of the emphasis on education, Peru’s adult literacy rate has risen from approximately 40 percent in 1940 to beyond 90 percent in 2005. In fact, in 2014, the primary school completion rate stood at 95.9 percent, a significant increase from 63.8 percent in 1970.

In particular, Peru continues to prioritize the education of women and vulnerable peoples. Since 2000, there has been minimal difference in the enrollment ratios between boys and girls: in fact, while 76.2 percent of school-aged boys were enrolled in school, 77.5 percent of school-aged girls were enrolled. Similarly, the Peruvian branch of CARE, an organization operating in 94 countries to implement sustainable change, empowers Peru’s most vulnerable groups, including women, indigenous people and rural populations.

Beginning with grade one, education in Peru grants students the opportunity to obtain primary, secondary, vocational and tertiary education. Higher education requires three years. The oldest university is the Universidad Nacional Major de San Marcos. Founded in 1551, the university prides itself on prioritizing social responsibility, creating professional leaders and emphasizing sustainability and environmental protection. In fact, the university offers courses in health sciences, medicine, veterinary studies, pharmaceutical studies, engineering, natural sciences, the humanities and more.

Clearly, education in Peru has continued to thrive over the course of the past few decades. However, significant funding efforts and economic growth play a crucial role in securing educational opportunities for students throughout the nation. Therefore, it is incumbent upon world leaders to provide support for Peruvian education in order to ensure that both the nation and its students succeed.

Emily Chazen

Poverty Rate of Venezuela
Venezuela, once expected to be one of the richest countries in South America, has been crippled by socialist dictators and now suffers from widespread poverty. In fact, 82% of the population lives in poverty.  With the largest oil reserves in the world, Venezuela’s economy has become solely dependent on oil.

Venezuela has relied on high oil prices to bolster their exports and pay for importing basic goods, including food and medicine. However, with the price of oil dropping dramatically in the last few years, Venezuela’s economy has taken a major hit and caused drastic inflation. As inflation skyrocketed and political turmoil brewed, investors and businesses drained out of the country.

Currently, Venezuela leads the world with the highest inflation. In December of 2016, it reached a high of 800 percent inflation and has not significantly decreased since. According to the LA Times, it cost $150 to buy a dozen eggs in Venezuela in 2016. This hyper inflation has caused Venezuela’s currency, the Bolivar Fuerte, to depreciate. This has caused the poverty rate of Venezuela to jump to more than 80 percent.

 

Poverty in Venezuela

 

The face of poverty in Venezuela is also changing. With such a staggeringly high poverty rate, poverty now affects citizens with degrees who cannot find jobs and more urban people, in addition to the already rural poor.

Long lines at supermarkets have developed as people seek the most basic and necessary means of survival. According to CNBC, Venezuelans are eating two or fewer meals a day and around three-fourths of the population have watched their weight decrease throughout the years.

In 2016, President Nicolas Maduro increased the minimum wage by 40 percent. With inflation, this means that citizens who receive minimum wage earn just $67 a month. The explosive poverty rate and lack of proper government response have prompted protests, as this issue is now being seen as a clear violation of human rights.

However, opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez, his wife, Lilian Tintori and Capriles Radonski acknowledge the situation and have been fighting for a better Venezuela. A Venezuela with democratic power, basic goods and luxuries everyone can afford, a Venezuela with jobs for everyone, lower crime rates and better health care.

The high poverty rate of Venezuela has reached the attention of the world. Raising awareness has been part of finding hope for Venezuela. The hashtag #SOSVenezuela has been used over the last few years to protest corruption and has acted as a rallying cry to bring global attention to the people affected by Venezuela’s dire political situation.

Francis Hurtado

Photo: Google