With the largest oil reserve in the world, Venezuela was once South America’s richest nation; however, a fall in oil prices and other economic issues has turned it into one of the poorest. As a result, the government of Trinidad and Tobago is providing relief to alleviate poverty in Venezuela, where more than 76 percent of Venezuelans currently live below the poverty line and are taking drastic measures in order to survive.
Venezuela’s economy depends on imports that are paid for by oil wealth, but when global oil prices crashed last year, the country was unable to pay for the goods it imports, thus causing chronic shortages and daily riots.
Additionally, the country owes over $150 million to Indian pharmaceutical companies, but its central bank has no hard currency left to sell and suspects up to $2.5 billion of its currency reserves were siphoned off illegally–making any debts unpayable.
Nearly half of Venezuelans say they can no longer afford to eat three meals a day. Citizens that can cross the border into Colombia buy, bring back and use or sell food and other essentials to their communities in order to survive.
Most families must share a portion sized for just one person, and children who eat only once or twice a day skip school because they don’t have the energy or are forced by their parents to search for food during the days. Many older children no longer attend school and find work to keep their families afloat.
In response to the urgent food crisis that is apparent in Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago agreed to provide manufactured goods to help reduce poverty. The priority items requested by Venezuela included butter, chicken, pork, ketchup, rice and black beans.
– Jackie Venuti