Just 20 years ago, Venezuela was a rising economic power with a dynamic economy and a growing business community.
Today, after 15 years of socialism, Venezuelans spend much of their time standing in long lines waiting for soap, beans or other scraps. Sometimes the long lines transform into riots, and the people become looters. Robbers murder people for cell phones in toothpaste lines in front of crowds.
Although Venezuela has one of the world’s highest murder rates, Venezuelans are now so poor and desperate that they regard shortages–not safety–as their highest concern.
Shortages now top voters’ lists of concerns, surpassing even safety. That’s stunning in a country with one of the world’s highest homicide rates.
“Desperation fuels the violence.” Line-cutters are beaten severely. No one has sympathy for anyone.
ATM limits are capped at $8 a day (for those who still have accounts).
Venezuela has the world’s highest inflation rate.
All Venezuelans, including children, are assigned two shopping days a week based on their state ID number. They line up before supermarkets open, guided by rumors and where they’ve had luck in the past. Some use fake IDs to score extra shopping days. Pregnant women and the elderly get their own priority lines, and everyone is limited to two units of whatever is on offer.
The longest lines are for what is in the shortest supply: food.
Some elderly poor are so weak from the long lines that they collapse.
The lines are driven by scarcity and poverty, but they also reflect how much people have given up on traditional employment. With the minimum wage at less than $15 a month and inflation running well into triple digits, it barely pays to go to work.
Read the AP story here.