Grocery shopping has become a nightmare for citizens in Venezuela, as consumers have to stand in line for hours to get into government-controlled markets, simply to buy small amounts of rationed goods on certain days.
Citizens even have to use their IDs — and are limited to how many times they can visit the store each week.
“There’s just unplugged display cases, flies and a bad odor,” Caracas resident Anny Valero said of her neighborhood supermarket.
The only food Valero could find was three cans of sardines, and she needed to present a government ID card and submit to a fingerprint scan to get that, National Public Radio (NPR) reported
The clerk made Valero put one can of sardines back due to rationing. Valero also had to present her son’s birth certificate to buy Pampers diapers.
Venezuela now has the world’s highest rate of inflation (180 percent) and shortages of basic goods and electricity. The situation is made worse by low oil prices, as well as a drought that has led to a scarcity of electricity. Venezuela relies on dams for its power.
“This is such a waste of time, and we have to do it every week,” Valero told NPR. “My husband risks losing his job, because he’s here with me shopping, and on top of that we can only buy two of each item.”
Valero’s husband, Yossmy Benaventi, accompanies her to keep thieves from stealing her groceries. The only alternative to the supermarket is the black market, where gangsters charge a fortune for food.
Looting and Pillaging Replace Shopping
The streets outside of Valero’s supermarket were filled with black marketers selling eggs, fish and meat. Valero and Benaventi could have bought meat from them, but it would have cost one-fourth of his monthly salary as a mechanic.
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Many Venezuelans have found an alternative to supermarkets in the form of looting. In the city of Guarenas, a mob pillaged the Paga Poco market because of rumors there was food hidden it. There have been 166 reports of looting in Guarenas this year alone.
The Panama Post reported that mobs of people with sticks were roaming through the streets of Guarenas, trying to break into stores and steal food. Some of the rioters were chanting, “we’re hungry.”
The rioting began after no food was delivered to markets for several days. President Nicolas Maduro responded to the violence by declaring a “state of emergency” and calling out the National Guard.
As part of the emergency, the government seized control of the Dia supermarket in Gueranas. No food has been delivered to the market for a week.
Even worse violence is now occurring in Caracas, where opposition parties organized mass rallies to protest Maduro’s socialist government. Police and soldiers closed off streets and shut down the subway to keep protestors away from the capitol building.
Instead of restoring order, the crackdown led to chaos, with protestors throwing rocks at police and troops teargassing protestors. The protestors are demanding a recall election to get rid of Maduro.
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