Severe shortages of food, clean water, electricity, medicines and hospital supplies punctuate a dire scenario of crime-ridden streets in the impoverished neighborhoods of this nearly failed OPEC state, which at one time claimed to be the most prosperous nation in Latin America.
Today, a once comfortable middle-class Venezuelan father is scrambling desperately to find his family’s next meal — sometimes hunting through garbage for salvageable food. The unfortunate 75% majority of Venezuelans already suffering extreme poverty are reportedly verging on starvation.
In desperation, some middle class families have organized online barter clubs as helpless citizens seek to trade anything for diapers and baby food, powdered milk, medicines, toilet paper and other essentials missing from store shelves or available only on the black market for double and triple already impossibly inflated prices..
There are horrific tales of desperate people slaughtering zoo animals to provide their only meal of the day. Even household pets are targeted as a much-needed source for food. This is a desperate time for a desperate people.
In what some economists have been calling a “death spiral”, the government’s failed economic policies are at the same time causing and trying to stem a runaway inflation with price-fixing policies which, in turn, are triggering shortages. Maduro is strongly urging businesses and farmers to sell their goods at severe losses, forcing shut-downs when the cost of doing business becomes prohibitive.
According to a recent Bloomberg report, the black market is thriving because goods are unavailable at prices fixed by the government. There are reports of ordinary people quitting inadequate-paying jobs to set up black market operations, hoping to be able to make enough to sustain life.
A dozen eggs was last reported to cost $150, and the International Monetary Fund “predicts that inflation in Venezuela will hit 720% this year. That might be an optimistic assessment, according to some local economic analysts, who expect the rate to reach as high as 1,200%.”
According to a Bloomberg report from April:
“In a tale that highlights the chaos of unbridled inflation, Venezuela is scrambling to print new bills fast enough to keep up with the torrid pace of price increases. Most of the cash, like nearly everything else in the oil-exporting country, is imported. And with hard currency reserves sinking to critically low levels, the central bank is doling out payments so slowly to foreign providers that they are foregoing further business.