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Food Crisis in Venezuela: Starvation, Corruption and Exodus

Food Crisis in Venezuela
As the food crisis in Venezuela continues to worsen, the country is suffering from issues ranging from starvation to corruption and mass migration to surrounding countries.

Venezuelans lack access to common goods ranging from food to medicine. The country has triple-digit inflation and the currency collapsed nearly 80 percent last year, leading to millions of citizens suffering from food insecurity. Food riots caused violence and even death in several Venezuelan cities last year, and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has responded by attempting to control the increasingly black market distribution of food and goods within the country. The government hopes that by placing limits on how much individuals can buy at a time, it will be able to put an end to the black market operation of buying and reselling food for higher prices.

As children and families suffer from starvation in the country, many parents are attempting to give their children to families who will be able to provide food for them. Reuters reports that at a social services center in Carirubana more than a dozen parents seek help providing care for their children each day. This is a dramatic uptick from last year when the center averaged one parent per day.

A survey released by a children’s rights group reported that two-thirds of 1,099 households with children were not eating enough in the region of Caracas, Venezuela. The average wages in the country are the equivalent of $50 per month. This has created a desperate situation where parents fear that their children will be forced into prostitution or the drug trade in order to survive.

As the food crisis in Venezuela grows increasingly desperate, food trafficking has become one of the largest businesses in the country. The military controls the distribution of food, and documents and interviews reveal that corruption runs rampant at every level from generals to soldiers.

Tens of thousands of Venezuelans cross the borders into Brazil and Columbia each month, some to buy food and return home and others to find a permanent home in a country where food is more readily available. Along border towns, Venezuelans account for 60 percent of all hospital visits, and as more Venezuelan sex workers arrive, the rates of sexually transmitted diseases have skyrocketed in these regions.

As the food crisis in Venezuela continues, it is important that the international community condemns human rights violations and corruption in the country. It is important that global powers like the United States focus on helping partner countries in South America put pressure on the Venezuelan government to promote democracy and end corruption and food insecurity.

Eva Kennedy

Photo: Flickr