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10 Facts About Hunger in Venezuela

Food shortages across Venezuela started to rise in 2013, around the time of President Hugo Chávez’s death. Less than a year later, the nation’s oil-dependent economy began to tank and inflation began to soar. Venezuela could no longer afford the cost of its imported basic goods, resulting in nationwide shortages in food and medicine. While the nation’s instability worsens, people are going hungry in Venezuela. Here are the top seven facts about hunger in Venezuela.

7 Facts About Hunger in Venezuela

  1. In 2017, 89.4 percent of Venezuelan households could not afford basic food supplies due to inflation and six out of 10 Venezuelans reported going to bed hungry. In February 2019, peak inflation in food prices hit a staggering 371,545.6 percent and high rates are continuing throughout 2019.
  2. Due to hunger in Venezuela, malnourishment is quite common. The United Nations reported that nearly 3.7 million Venezuelans suffered from malnourishment in 2018.
  3. Mass weight loss is also common across Venezuela as 64.3 percent of Venezuelans lost weight due to food shortages in 2017. Venezuelans who lost weight dropped an average of 11.4 kg each since the shortages began. 
  4. Available food supplies all too often end up on the black market and are sold by bachaqueros. Bachaqueros buy subsidized goods at government-set prices, then sell those goods at double, even triple, the original price, taking advantage of struggling communities. This illegal practice is exacerbated by Venezuela’s compounded crises.
  5. Without easy access to affordable food supplies, some Venezuelans resort to using alternative resources. For example, the yuca root can replace potatoes, which is a similar, yet far cheaper vegetable. In more desperate cases, scavenging for scraps has also become popular.
  6. Although President Nicolás Maduro has rejected many types of humanitarian aid, including extensive efforts to send food supplies, the government has accepted aid from nonpartisan groups. In 2018 alone, Cuatro Por Venezuela, one of the largest relief suppliers, sent 41,804 pounds of food to Venezuela, amounting to 120,000 standard meals for people in need. These supplies are distributed directly to schools, orphanages, nursing homes and homeless shelters all over Venezuela.
  7. In addition to nonpartisan NGOs, international government groups, such as the European Commission (EC), allocated another €50 million to the crisis in Venezuela, along with additional food supplies and nutritional services in March 2019. 

As food shortages continue and people remain hungry, these seven facts about hunger in Venezuela show that the country is in a clear humanitarian crisis. While there are aid efforts out there, supplies must be sent in as nonpartisan support. So long as aid efforts adhere to this restriction, there is hope for hunger relief in Venezuela.

—Suzette Shultz
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Top 10 Facts about Hunger In Venezuela
Venezuela’s current economic recession has far more reaching consequences for the Venezuelan people than anticipated. At the beginning of 2010, inflation began to rise by over a thousand percent and the economy shrunk, resulting in low oil prices in 2015 and in food and oil shortages today. Perhaps the most devastating consequence is that the price of basic necessities skyrocketed, and hunger in Venezuela increased. Below are the facts about hunger in Venezuela.

Hunger in Venezuela Key Facts

  1. Food shortages are the country’s biggest problem. Across the country, poor and middle-class Venezuelans are unable to afford food and often must wait in long lines known as “colas” to find basic food like flour and rice. The government subsidizing of food in the country is limited, but the only affordable option.
  2. Malnutrition has increased. In the poorest segments of the population, especially in slums and areas of Caracas, malnutrition has increased greatly, as noted by many health workers. Often, families cannot afford two or three meals a day and those meals consist of just bread or banana.
  3. Smugglers provide food for the poorest. Despite the risk, the black market for food has exploded in the recent years of the crisis. Smugglers bring food from outside the country, and their goods are often the only ones that the poor can afford. Often, when mothers cannot feed newborns due to their own malnutrition, they procure formula from smugglers.
  4. Pets are also starving as a result. Since families cannot afford to feed themselves, many dogs and other pets have been left out to starve on the streets. Hunger in Venezuela has led these animals to search for scraps but their presence can pose a danger to public health.
  5. Venezuela has declined aid from the U.S. and the Amnesty International. Despite offers, the current Government of Venezuela under President Maduro has refused aid. Private charities have been allowed to help, but Maduro claims that socialism within the country will protect the citizens from starvation in the end.
  6. Maduro blames outside forces and pressures for the crisis. Maduro, who has been re-elected in May 2018, says the crisis is a problem from outside, not from Venezuela’s own government. His position has been greatly weakened by the hunger crisis in the country. As prices rise, desertion rises in the army and paramilitary groups have grown.
  7. Media coverage of the crisis has been critiqued as inaccurateAccording to a 2016 report, in the course of the crisis, 93 percent of Venezuelans thought they did not have enough money to purchase food and had lost 19 pounds on average. But in the reports from the country were also the statistic numbers of 67.5 percent of Venezuelans that still ate three meals a day and only 25 percent of people felt their nutrition was inefficient. The conflict between these figures could imply that the crisis is not as terrible as reported, but the more positive statistics are rarely discussed in English speaking news reports, which rely more on anecdotal evidence of hunger in Venezuela.
  8. Venezuelan employers are trying to help workers. Since many employees come to work hungry, they cannot perform their best, so at some farms, farmers began providing meals for their workers while they are at work, in an effort to keep up productivity and prevent losing more employees to malnutrition. Since operating farms is more expensive now, the farmers have elected to pay their employees not with money, but with food, which is much more valuable for many families.
  9. Venezuelans in the U.S. are shipping food to relativesDespite the grim facts, many relatives are determined to help their families combat hunger in Venezuela. In particular, communities in Miami, a common home for Venezuelan immigrants, have begun collecting food like rice, beans, and sugar. The shipping prices are often incredibly expensive, but mobilization has been made easier by social media efforts.
  10. Many charities send food to private organizations on the ground in Venezuela. Donations go to health institutions not affiliated with the Venezuelan government, as most of them do not trust the government. An effort is being made especially to help the most vulnerable, like native communities, nursing homes and special needs children’s organizations.

Perhaps the best news is that, despite the problems within Venezuela, the estimates of hunger in Venezuela are better than in other countries in the region. The percentage of Venezuelans below the poverty line is lower than in neighboring countries like Bolivia. With the mobilization of charities across the globe, the situation has improved for some people in Venezuela.

– Grace Gay

Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian Aid to Venezuela
The past few years have been extremely difficult for Venezuelan citizens as their economy slowly deteriorated with the rise of oppressive government leaders. From medicine shortages to an extreme lack of food, Venezuelans have been experiencing a profound humanitarian crisis. While the United Nations, the United States and other countries have called on President Nicolas Maduro to accept international humanitarian aid to Venezuela, Maduro has refused any kind of aid that could potentially open doors to foreign military intervention.

The Venezuelan government has been denying the existence of a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela even with its growing inflation rate of 720 percent and a poverty rate of 86 percent in 2016, which explains their limited efforts to alleviate the crisis and obtain assistance from other countries.

Shortages of Medicine and Food

Shortages of medicine have become widespread, leading to a succession of alarming deaths of preventable medical conditions. Maternal and neonatal deaths have substantially increased in the past two years. A 2016 report from the Ministry of Health shows a percentage of 2.01 percent of neonatal deaths, being 100 times higher than it was in 2012 with only 0.02 percent neonatal deaths.

In terms of food, the situation has worsened over the years. The latest National Survey of Living Conditions (ENCOVI) has revealed a major increase in the number of Venezuelans eating two meals or less per day, going from 11.3 percent in 2015 to 32.5 percent in 2016.

Humanitarian aid to Venezuela

Several small non-profit organizations have provided humanitarian aid to Venezuela by engaging in discrete shipments of medicine and food to the affected areas. Shipments are then collected and distributed to hospitals, doctors and organizations by volunteers working in Venezuela.

However, many organizations, such as Move Org in Miami, have stopped sending shipments to Venezuelans in need, as the government recently banned the import of any items that seem to be “war material”. As a result, a lot of medicines are confiscated by authorities by being deemed as a war material, worsening the situation of citizens depending on them.

Florida Senators, Ben Cardin and Marco Rubio offered some hope to Venezuelans citizens by creating a bill known as the “Venezuelan Humanitarian Assistance and Defense of Governance Act of 2017”, which, as the title states, will provide humanitarian aid to Venezuela. Senators also set aside a total of $10 million to effectively implement the measures proposed in the bill, which include providing food, medicine and nutritional supplements to the country’s citizens.

Venezuela’s inflation rate jumped to 740 percent in 2017 and is predicted to increase even more in the future, putting the lives of Venezuelans in danger. Humanitarian aid to Venezuela needs to keep growing with the help of non-profit organizations or governmental figures from other states.

– Sarah Soutoul

Photo: Flickr