COMMITMENT TO JUSTICE: Basic needs are a privilege in Venezuela (27/10/2016 by Adriana Arrieta)

In the last decades the spread of socialism in Latin American countries has became an important issue that must be evaluated in order to understand the economic crisis that some countries in that region are living. With attention to a country located “on the northern coast of South America”, with one of the largest proven oil reserves in the world, Venezuela is a victim of the previously mentioned issue. This Latin American country is rich in goods such as diamond, titanium, rutile, carbon, mic, iron, copper, sulfur and bauxite. Even though, the country is rich in resources, it is suffering a huge humanitarian crisis.

»They had to change their daily diet (beans, meat and milk) for products more accessible»

In Venezuela, having three meals a day has become a privilege. According “to the most recent assessment of living standards by Simón Bolívar University, a whopping 87% of Venezuelans now say that they don’t have money to buy enough food”. They had to change their daily diet (beans, meat and milk) for products more accessible such as empty carbohydrates like pasta or rice. All of this was the product of a strong food shortage.

Supermarkets are empty and there is only one-way to buy food without making any queue: the black markets. For the lower class these illegal shops, usually located in dangerous neighborhoods, are not an option. The products are three times more expensive than the regular price. On one hand, in supermarkets the cost of the rice is 1.500 bolivars (50 cents), on the other hand, the cost of the same product in the black market is 4.000 bolivares (2 dollars).

These unlicensed shops are not a secret to the police. The problem with the food shortages in Venezuela is so serious that the policemen cannot paralyze the empire that has been shaped by the needs of the citizens. Police forces cannot take action on this subject primarily because they are probably resorting to these illegal vendors from the black market, instead of buying them at a regular price in supermarkets due to their lack of inventory.

As the crisis grew, a new definition appeared in the citizen’s daily vocabulary: Bachaquero. Colombians and Venezuelans saw an opportunity to make business and took the advantage. Hiring people to do long queues to buy products at a regular price and transport them into Colombia was the easier way to do profits in a chaotic country.

Maduro’s regime responded to the lack of food chaos applying some measures in the supermarkets. The government limits the number of products that citizens can buy daily. For example, one person can only acquire one package of each basic product such as toilet paper or rice in every transaction. The other approach is based on controlling the day of the week that people go to the supermarkets in order to avoid a collapse. In this case, the government states the specific day for groceries depending on the last number of their national identifications.

Some people believe that the one who initiated the chaos was Chavez, so the crisis was just a bomb about to explode. However, many others argue that Maduro, as the successor of the socialism in the 21th century, intensified the problems converting them into a crisis. What it is true is that the situation in Venezuela is getting worse. All the citizens have been affected.

Adriana Arrieta Rodriguez.
Journalism and International Relations.

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