EspañolDespair and violence is taking over Venezuela. The economic crisis sweeping the nation means people have to withstand widespread shortages of staple products, medicine, and food.
So when the Maduro administration began rationing electricity this week, leaving entire cities in the dark for up to 4 hours every day, discontent gave way to social unrest.
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On April 26, people took to the streets in three Venezuelan states, looting stores to find food.
Maracaibo, in the western state of Zulia, is the epicenter of thefts: on Tuesday alone, Venezuelans raided pharmacies, shopping malls, supermarkets, and even trucks with food in seven different areas of the city.
Although at least nine people were arrested, and 2,000 security officers were deployed in the state, Zulia’s Secretary of Government Giovanny Villalobos asked citizens not to leave their homes. “There are violent people out there that can harm you,” he warned.
In Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, citizens reported looting in at least three areas of the city. Twitter users reported that thefts occurred throughout the night in the industrial zone of La California, Campo Rico, and Buena Vista.
They assured that several locals were robbed and that there were people on the street shouting “we are hungry!”
The same happened in Carabobo, a state in central Venezuela. Through Twitter, a journalist from Valencia reported the looting of a deli.
The crime took place on Tuesday evening amid a wave of protests against prolonged power rationing and outages in multiple parts of the country.
Food for 15 Days
Supermarkets employees from Valencia told the PanAm Post that besides no longer receiving the same amount of food as before, they must deal with angry Venezuelans who come to the stores only to find out there’s little to buy.
Purchases in supermarkets are rationed through a fingerprint system that does not allow Venezuelans to acquire the same regulated food for two weeks.
Due to the country’s mangled economy, millions must stand in long lines for hours just to purchase basic products, which many resell for extra income as the country’s minimum wage is far from enough to cover a family’s needs.
On Wednesday, the Venezuelan Chamber of Food (Cavidea) said in a statement that most companies only have 15 days worth of stocked food.
According to the union, the production of food will continue to dwindle because raw materials as well as local and foreign inputs are depleted.
In the statement, Cavidea reported that they are 300 days overdue on payments to suppliers and it’s been 200 days since the national government last authorized the purchase of dollars under the foreign currency control system.
Venezuelans Are Eating less
The latest Survey of Living Conditions (Encovi) showed that more than 3 million Venezuelans eat only twice a day or less. The rampart inflation and low wages make it increasingly more difficult for people to afford food.
“Fruits and vegetables have disappeared from shopping lists. What you buy is what fills your stomach more: 40 percent of the basic groceries is made up of corn flour, rice, pasta, and fat”.
But not even that incomplete diet Venezuelans can live on because those food products are hard to come by. Since their prices are controlled by the government, they are scarce and more people demand them.
The survey also notes the rise of diseases such as gastritis, with an increase of 25 percent in 2015, followed by poisoning (24.11 percent), parasites (17.86 percent), and bacteria (10.71 percent).
The results of this study are consistent with the testimony of Venezuelan women, who told the PanAm Post that because “everything is so expensive” that they prefer to eat twice a day and leave lunch for their children. That way they can make do with the little portions they can afford.
Andrea Gutiérrez, for instance, explained that meals at home are becoming smaller. She also buys overpriced milk, which she prefers to give to her children to help them grow healthy.
Since chicken is so expensive, Rosa Morales told the PanAm Post, she only eats breakfast and dinner. She saves the meat for her children’s lunch.
Five states held primaries Tuesday, April 26, with enough delegates on both the Democratic and Republican side for the outcome to all but secure their leads for the rest of primary season. Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maryland were swept by billionaire and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, while Hillary Clinton took four out of five states — losing only Rhode Island to Bernie Sanders. // Clinton won 406 delegates on the night, compared to Bernie Sanders' 168, as well as a vast majority of superdelegates. Donald Trump's sweep gave him 142 delegates on his way to the 1,237 he needs to clinch the nomination. In both cases, the nature of the outcomes of these primaries seemed to give the winners more public confidence in talking about their chances of wrapping up their respective races. Clinton's victory speech, for example, was less focused on her defeat of Sanders as it was on looking toward the general election, where she will most likely be facing Trump. Trump recently accused Clinton's success of being the result of her playing the "woman card," and she responded during last night's speech in Philadelphia. Read More: Bernie Sanders is deluded: there's no such thing as positive socialism Read More: Why Trump is wrong on trade and immigration "If fighting for women's healthcare and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card," she said, "then deal me in." NBC News pointed out that Sanders seems to be shifting focus away from trying to win the nomination, and more to using his media attention for influencing party platform. "The people in every state in this country should have the right to determine who they want as president and what the agenda of the Democratic Party should be," his statement said. "That's why we are in this race until the last vote is cast. That is why this campaign is going to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with as many delegates as possible to fight for a progressive party platform." Meanwhile, Donald Trump's sweep made it seem even more certain that he will be the Republican nominee. "It's over," Trump said during his victory speech. "As far as I'm concerned, it's over." This after a series of angry tweets about the newly declared plan by Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich to work together in future primaries (such as Indiana) to stop Trump from winning, and thereby forcing a contested election at the Republican National Convention — which would almost certainly see party leaders force Trump out. Indiana will be the next state to hold a primary, on May 3, followed by West Virginia and Nebraska on May 10. Unless the plan devised by Cruz and Kasich has unexpectedly wild success, don't count on these states changing the race too drastically.