The blockade of Venezuela by the USA is a crime against humanity.

Thomas Shannon, said that the US blockade against Venezuela, generates the same effect as the one generated by a bombing.

Thomas Shannon, who served as Undersecretary for the Western Hemisphere of the United States Department of State, compared the effects of sanctions with the bombing of industrial cities by British and American forces during World War II, against locations in Japan and Germany.

“More or less like the bombing of Dresden and Tokyo. We are seeing the destruction of Venezuela as a country and as a society,” said the former US official who stressed that these unilateral actions of imperialism” cause enormous harm to the Venezuelan people”.

Despite his strong position against the Bolivarian Revolution, during his long stay at the State Department, Shannon lamented that there are people who deny this war against the Venezuelan people and questioned those who, for the sole desire to overthrow the constitutional president Nicolás Maduro, have supported this genocidal policy that deepened in Trump’s supremacist administration.

“It is incredible that some people deny this, but that underlines, first, the enormity of their miscalculation when they supported the sanctions against oil and gas, and second, their desire to cause enormous damage to Venezuela to throw Maduro of power,” he said in an interview published by the US Financial Times.

Source: Lechuginos - Translated by JRE/EF

U.S. Senator Thomas Shannon

 

UN Congratulates Venezuela for Reducing Hunger

By Manuel Rueda - 17. June 2013

PHOTO: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, poses with FAO director Jose Graziano da Silva. On Sunday, The FAO, aawarded Venezuela a special certificate for reducing hunger by half, despite current food shortages in the South American nation.scrennshot/www.laprensa.hn

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, poses with FAO director Jose Graziano da Silva. On Sunday, The FAO, aawarded Venezuela a special certificate for reducing hunger by half, despite current food shortages in the South American nation.

Despite going through food shortages that are so severe that people line up for hours outside supermarkets for basic staples like corn flour and chicken, Venezuela is making big strides in reducing hunger. Or so the UN says.

On Sunday the FAO, the UN organization that specializes in nutrition, included Venezuela in a group of 18 nations that that have cut their number of hungry people by half over the past 20 years.

The achievement, which was announced in a ceremony attended by several heads of state, won the Venezuelan government a certificate and a photo between President Nicolas Maduro and the FAO's director, Jose Graziano da Silva.

Maduro, who is facing accusations that he stole Venezuela's election, has embarked on a diplomatic offensive to seek support abroad. At the FAO event, staged just a day before Maduro met with Pope Francis, the Venezuelan president said that he was "proud" of the UN certificate and thanked the deceased Hugo Chavez for reducing hunger in his country.

But the prize angered Venezuelans who have been struggling with food shortages for the past few months.

"This is a joke, there is a big food crisis in Venezuela right now." tweeted @titamarval in response to a question posted by the CNN show CafeCNN. The program asked viewers what they thought of the FAO certificate awarded to Venezuela.

"They bought this with [money from oil] barrels it's part of an image campaign" claimed twitter user Guillermo Suarez.

In a statement published last week, explaining the reasons for which Venezuela would be recognized for fighting against hunger, FAO said that Venezuela reduced the number of people suffering from malnutrition from 13.5 percent of the population in the years 1990-1992, to less than 5 percent of the population in 2010-2012, thus complying with one of the UN's millennium development goals.

In the statement, which mostly mentioned data supplied by the Venezuelan government, FAO said that government-run supermarket networks and nutrition programs created by Hugo Chavez had helped to bring about this reduction in hunger. One of these market networks called Mercal sells goods for prices that can be up to 70 percent cheaper than the regular market price.

Venezuelan government statistics also show that overall the country consumed 26.8 million tons of food in 2012, which is almost twice as much as the 13.8 million tons consumed in 1999, the first year of the Chavez administration.

But Venezuela's opposition takes some issue with these stats and mentions that strict price controls and expropriations of local businesses have greatly reduced local food production, as there is little incentive for local companies to make the stuff.

According to Julio Borges, an opposition leader, Venezuela imports 70 percent of its food from the U.S., Brazil and regional allies like Nicaragua.

Borges said that the UN diploma was a "slap in the face of the Venezuelan people," and added that food is not only becoming scarce in Venezuela but expensive, as the country suffers from one of the worst inflation rates in Latin America. (Prices rise around 30 percent each year.)

The government claims that only 30 percent of Venezuela's food is imported. It adds that, despite the long lines at supermarkets, Venezuelans consume an average of 3,182 calories per day. According to the UN people who consume less than 1,800 calories per day suffer from malnutrition.

As the debate over Venezuela's hunger problems rages on however, one thing is clear: Finding basic foods like corn flour, milk and chicken continues to be tough in Venezuela. Just recently a regional government suggested implementing an electronic system, which would prevent people from buying too much of the same item, in order to stop consumers from stocking up or re-selling what they buy. The strategy was discarded by officials after public outcry, and fears of Cuban-style food rationing arose.

What has prospered however is a cell phone app that tells you where to find products that are going scarce. The app called Abasteceme, or "Supply me," has been downloaded thousands of times since it was launched in the last week of May.

FAO's statement on hunger reduction in Venezuela, made no mention of this app or of the long lines in the country's supermarkets.

UPDATE:

U.S. starts blockade of Venezuela

By Sean Orr | 12. August 2019

Venezuelans march to demand an end to the blockade.

Venezuelans march to demand an end to the blockade.

Chicago, IL - On August 6, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton attended a gathering of representatives from the right-wing governments of Latin America. There, he announced the next stage in the U.S. campaign to defeat the Bolivarian Revolution: A total blockade of Venezuela. All U.S. citizens are banned from doing business with "the Maduro regime," and any company - U.S. or international - that does business with the Venezuelan government will be subject to fines, asset seizures and sanctions. While the announcement did not include the immediate deployment of the U.S. Navy to enforce the blockade, Bolton hinted that the option remained on the table if foreign companies and governments did not comply.

A blockade is war by another name; it is a modern-day siege with the singular goal of starving a nation into submission. The U.S. government uses its hegemony to threaten any business or government that does business with the targeted nation, to risk its isolation in a global economy run on U.S. terms. If you run an agribusiness willing to sell food for the Venezuelan food subsidy program - you will be sanctioned. If you run a shipping company willing to transport Venezuelan oil to be traded around the world - you will be sanctioned. If you are a government that receives Venezuelan oil in exchange for social services - you will be sanctioned. In one fell swoop, the United States has committed itself to preventing any Venezuelan exports from leaving its shores, and from it receiving imported goods from anywhere around of the globe. Already, the U.S. military has prevented a ship carrying thousands of tons of soy products from reaching Venezuela.

The decision is a historic one. It ends all economic relations between the United States and Venezuela. Up until a few years ago, the U.S. was Venezuela's main trading partner. For decades, the Venezuelan government had sold heavy crude to ExxonMobil and other U.S. firms, and with the U.S. dollars it received from these sales it bought U.S. agricultural and consumer goods to meet domestic demand. Ending this dependency was a key goal of Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian movement when they came to power in 1999, and the process of building economic sovereignty has been underway since then.

For 20 years, the U.S. has resisted this struggle for national independence. It backed a coup d’état in 2002 to try to install a pro-U.S. dictatorship, and firmly supported a bourgeois opposition that worked tirelessly to take back power and return Venezuela to the imperialist fold. After Chávez's death and Nicolás Maduro was elected president, the U.S. and its bourgeois lackeys began an economic war to try to break the masses from their revolutionary movement. But the coup failed, the opposition proved incompetent at winning elections, and the masses have endured the economic war without wavering in their revolutionary commitment. By declaring a blockade, the Trump administration is admitting that all their efforts to defeat the Bolivarian Revolution have failed. Nothing done so far has worked - so now starvation will be tried.

While the blockade directly targets Venezuela, it also sends a signal to other nations that refuse to fall in line behind the United States: namely, China and Russia. Both nations stepped in to fill the void left by the United States as the imperialist power gradually withdrew its historic relations with Venezuela. After the U.S. ended all military support for Venezuela during Hugo Chávez's administration, the Russian government stepped in. And as the U.S. began to withdraw its economic ties with Venezuela - a process begun in 2015 with a series of sanctions put in place by Obama - the Chinese government filled the void. Today, China is Venezuela's largest creditor and is providing crucial support for the nation's productive development. There should be no doubt that both nations will continue their support for the Venezuelan people - a sign of U.S. imperialism in decline, and of the determination of the world's peoples to defend their sovereignty.

This weekend, hundreds of thousands marched through the streets of Caracas in defiance of the imperialist blockade. The Venezuelan masses stand organized and mobilized, ready to defend the sovereignty they have won through hard struggle. "U.S. imperialism and its allies have tried to destroy the Bolivarian Revolution for 20 years, and again and again they have crashed against the granite wall of our unity and our conscience as a people fighting for freedom," said Eduardo Piñate, the executive secretary of the United Socialist Party (PSUV), in an essay about the blockade. "Despite the damage they have caused us with the economic war, the blockade and all other forms of war done against us, we resist and advance because we are stronger than them."

 

Raised FistStop Trump's Agenda!

 

EARLIER THE USA TRIED ANOTHER TRICK:

Goldman Sachs Just Ignited the Venezuela ‘Hunger Bonds’ Movement

By  and  - 31. May 2017
  • Where would Venezuela be if the bondholders shunned its debt?

  • Nickname questions investor role in crisis-stricken country

 

Goldman Sachs Under Fire Over Venezuela Bond Deal

The Venezuelan “Hunger Bonds” movement made limited progress in its first eight months of existence. Aimed at shaming international investors into boycotting the repressive government’s bonds, or at least raising awareness about the subject, the term was really only known among a small crowd of specialists.

Then Goldman Sachs Group Inc. made a big investment in the debt.

And because every protest movement needs a foil -- a role Goldman has played many times before -- the campaign has suddenly gained a surge of momentum. Demonstrators outside the bank’s New York headquarters Tuesday chanted, “No more hunger bonds, Goldman Sachs,” and the term was flying around the internet, appearing in scores of tweets and memes that featured images of malnourished Venezuelans scavenging for food.

Growing publicity, of course, doesn’t necessarily translate into greater success in implementing the boycott -- and it isn’t entirely clear what it would achieve anyway -- but Jorge Botti, a Venezuelan businessman who started the movement last year, is thrilled.

“I’ve had friends tell me I’m an idiot for talking about this, that capital has never had a heart and that’s why it works so well, but I think that world could find another way of functioning,” Botti said in an interview. “I think it’s going to start resonating a bit more.”

Opposition lawmakers are now joining with academics and activists to decry bond investors’ willingness to turn a blind eye to the chaos that’s overtaking the country in exchange for fat interest payments. The argument is that providing financing to the government props up despots whose corruption and incompetence have ruined a nation that’s home to more untapped oil wealth than any other country on earth.

Goldman says it isn’t handing cash directly to the government. The Wall Street Journal reported the firm’s asset-management arm bought $2.8 billion of securities from the state oil company through a broker at 31 cents on the dollar. But the transaction appeared to boost international reserves, perhaps giving President Nicolas Maduro more breathing room as he clings to power and waits for an upturn in oil prices to bring in more cash.

Goldman rejected the idea of any moral culpability. The bank said Venezuela’s situation “is complex and evolving” and that life there “has to get better. We made the investment in part because we believe it will.”

Venezuela’s opposition parties immediately criticized Goldman, with Julio Borges, president of the National Assembly, saying lawmakers will begin an investigation and evaluate whether “a future, democratic government of Venezuela should recognize or pay on this debt entered into against the interests of our people.”

The term “hunger bonds,” a play on the “Hunger Games” movies in which a teenager leads the resistance against a fictional totalitarian state, has resonance because so many Venezuelans lack for food. A study showed that adults on average lost 19 pounds last year due to shortages.

Botti first used the phrase in October 2016 in a post to his Twitter followers (who today total about 17,000) as part of his effort to raise awareness about suffering in the country. A former bondholder himself, he decided in 2015 that he couldn’t justify accepting the payments and sold his stake.

“The bondholders know that they’re being paid at the expense of the country’s hunger,” said Botti, who runs a business importing hardware. “A lot of people tell me that the bonds don’t have anything to do with people, but I tell them it’s a moral issue.”

This isn’t the kind of dilemma that bond investors typically spend much time fretting over, especially considering that autocracies often outperform democracies in debt markets and that Venezuela has posted some of the world’s top gains.

There are few exact parallels in recent history to the “hunger bonds” movement. The closest initiatives may be the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against investing in Israel and its companies over concern about the country’s policy toward Palestinians, and the “Boycott Gulf” crusade of the 1970s that urged investors to sell stock in Gulf Oil because of its perceived support for Portuguese colonial rule in Angola. The divestment campaign in South Africa during apartheid set an example that has been followed by investors to apply economic pressure in Myanmar and Sudan amid human-rights abuses.

Harvard University professor Ricardo Hausmann, who also gave the “hunger bonds” phrase a boost when he used it in an essay last week, argued that ethics can’t be ignored anymore.

50 Cents

Holding the bonds, most of which trade for about 50 cents on the dollar, risks incentivizing investors to root for payments to be made even as the populace suffers, he says. If there’s a default, bondholders will be agitating for the right to seize Venezuelan assets for payment -- assets that should belong to the Venezuelan people.

Francisco Ghersi, the managing director of the Venezuelan-dedicated hedge fund Knossos Asset Management, thinks the shaming effort is misguided. Venezuela’s problems are caused by corruption and economic mismanagement, not the debt itself, he says.

“What’s happening now is a tragedy, but it’s not the product of two years of paying off bonds,” Ghersi said. “It’s audacious to say that today people are dying of hunger because of the foreign debt.” 

Before Venezuela’s international reserves increased $749 million over two days last week in the wake of the Goldman deal, the cash hoard had dropped to near a 15-year low of $10.1 billion. The next big test for debt investors will come at the end of October and beginning of November, when the state-owned oil company has about $2 billion in bond payments scheduled.

Botti says investors trying to guess exactly how long Venezuela will be able to keep making debt payments are being myopic. He wants the world focused on the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, not the outsize returns on its bonds.

“Among my fellow entrepreneurs and economists, there is no reflection on the subject,” he said. “But I think we must insist.”

— With assistance by Katherine Chiglinsky

Even th lions in Caracas Zoo were starving.

Like during Hugo Chavez days, the USA has again tried to starve the Venezuelans into submission since since 2016/2017 and the mainstream media play along:

Hunger eats away at Venezuela’s soul as its people struggle to survive

The Maduro regime denies its oil-rich country is in crisis. But on the streets the desperation cannot be hidden

By  in Caracas (*) -

A supermarket is looted in Maracay, Aragua state 

A supermarket is looted in Maracay, Aragua state. Photograph: Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images

 

Hunger is gnawing at Venezuela, where a government that claims to rule for the poorest has left most of its 31 million people short of food, many desperately so. As night falls over Caracas, and most of the city’s residents lock their doors against its ever more violent streets, Adriana Velásquez gets ready for work, heading out into an uncertain darkness as she has done since hunger forced her into the only job she could find at 14.

She was introduced to her brothel madam by a friend more than two years ago after her mother, a single parent, was fired and the two ran out of food. “It was really hard, but we were going to bed without eating,” said the teenager, whose name has been changed to protect her.

Since then Venezuela’s crisis has deepened, the number of women working at the brothel has doubled, and their ages have dropped. “I was the youngest when I started. Now there are girls who are 12 or 13. Almost all of us are there because of the crisis, because of hunger.”

She earns 400,000 bolivares a month, around four times the minimum wage, but at a time of hyperinflation that is now worth about $30, barely enough to feed herself, her mother and a new baby brother. She has signed up to evening classes that run before her nightly shift, and hopes to one day escape from a job where “everything is ugly”.

Velásquez grew up in one of Caracas’s poorest and most violent districts, but Venezuela’s food crisis respects neither class nor geography. The pangs of hunger are felt through the corridors of its major businesses, behind the microphone on radio shows, in hospitals where malnutrition is climbing sharply and already claiming lives, and at schools where children faint and teachers skip classes to queue for food.

 

Nearly three-quarters of Venezuelans have lost weight over the past year, and the average loss was a huge 9kg, or nearly a stone and a half, according to a survey by the country’s top universities. For many that is simply because food is too expensive. Nine out of 10 homes can’t cover the cost of what they should eat.

And 10 million people skip at least one meal a day, often to help feed their children.

David González, not his real name, had a college degree, a career and modest middle-class dreams of owning a car and a house before Venezuela slipped towards its current crisis, and spiralling inflation made the food he needed to stay alive unaffordable. In a cafe in downtown Caracas, he explains how his dreams shrank with his wasting body, now so emaciated that ribs and collarbones poke through a once-chubby chest.

“It’s sad because you stop thinking of what your professional goals and challenges are and instead just focus on what you can eat,” said the 29-year-old activist and journalist. Like many of Venezuela’s hungry middle classes he was ashamed of his situation.

“I had seen people suffering, I saw people queueing for bread, but it had not reached me, I didn’t expect it would,” he said. “Never in my life had I spent a night worrying about what I would eat tomorrow.”

This year he has done little else. He stands 5ft 7in tall, and has lost more than a quarter of his body mass, shrinking to little over 50kg (7st 12lb) since the start of the year. During a checkup for a new job, doctors diagnosed a heart murmur caused by stress and hunger. He gets up at 5am to queue for food, but sometimes it isn’t there.

“Its like an obstacle course. You have to find money to buy food, a place to buy it and then get there in time,” he said, with a wry grin that has survived better than his health, before adding: “One of the good things about Venezuelans is they laugh about it all – food, and security and health.”

This summer he swallowed his pride and signed up for a monthly box of subsidised food sold by the government for about $1. “I didn’t want to be part of that scheme. But I had to change my decision, to literally not die of hunger.”

President Nicolás Maduro says Venezuela’s problems are the result of “economic warfare” waged by the US. He points to Donald Trump’s public mulling of a “military option” earlier this month as evidence Washington is pushing for regime change, and on Friday slammed ramped-up US sanctions against the government and the state-owned oil corporation as an overt bid to undermine the government by forcing it to default on debt.

Former foreign minister and top aide Delcy Rodríguez has denied the country has a food crisis, denouncing the “blackmail of hunger”. She told the new legislative super-body she heads: “In Venezuela there is no hunger, there is willpower. There is indignation and courage to defend Venezuela.”

But critics and economists say the crisis is both real and self-inflicted, the result of a government using a raft of imports as a shortcut to meet promises of development and food security during the heady years of an oil price boom. Venezuela used to produce more than two-thirds of its food, and import the rest, but those proportions are now reversed, with imports making up around 70% of what the country eats.

When crude prices began sliding in 2014, bringing down oil earnings, it left the country short of dollars, and the government decided to focus its income on servicing the national debt rather than importing food.

Katiuska familyff

The Katiuska family face a daily struggle. Photograph: Emma Graham-Harrison/The Observer

“This administration decided people have to eat less for them to balance their accounts,” said Efraín Velásquez, president of the semi-official National Economic Council. “That implies poverty, social deterioration, that people are worse off.”

Supplies dried up and inflation sliced through savings and earnings, slashing the value of the currency by more than 99% since Maduro’s 2013 election. Bolivares bought with $1,000 then would be worth little over a dollar at today’s black market rate.

There has been no official inflation data from the government since 2015, but the opposition puts the figure at 250% in the first seven months of the year. In a tacit recognition of the scale of the problem, the president himself boosted the minimum wage nearly 500% last year, to “offset inflation”.

“We are the only country in the world where people dread a wage hike, because they know the price of food will follow [up],” said Ingrid Soto de Sanabria, head of nutrition at Venezuela’s top children’s hospital, who has been raising the alarm about the steep rise in cases of malnutrition.

The number of children with severe malnutrition who were admitted to the hospital rose from 30 in 2015 to 110 last year, and looks set to climb further this year based on figures from the first half of the year, she said. There has been a subtle shifting in the nature of the problems parents face. Formula for babies who can’t be breastfed was hard to track down anywhere last year, with shortages so severe they claimed the lives of newborns.

Since the government unofficially relaxed price controls there are more supplies, but parents struggle to pay for what they need, she said. “Last year there were terrible shortages, this year there are less shortages, but the prices are through the roof.

“We don’t have formula, and what little we do is thanks to donations,” she said. Mothers who are malnourished can struggle to breastfeed, exacerbating the problem.

Catholic charity Caritas has been among those raising the alarm, after launching a project to monitor and tackle child nutrition across four Venzeulan states. “Humanitarian help is needed to save lives. I wouldn’t have said that a year ago, because people weren’t dying,” said Susana Raffalli, who led the project. After decades tackling food crises around the world, from Pakistan to Algeria, she was horrified to find herself doing the same in her native Venezuela.

People check bags of foodstuff inside one of the food distribution centres, which have been set up by local ­committees ‘for supply and ­production’ in Caracas.

People check bags of foodstuff inside one of the food distribution centres, which have been set up by local ­committees ‘for supply and ­production’ in Caracas. Photograph: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images

“Its not a country with a tradition of humanitarian crises like others in the region,” she said. But malnutrition has been rising sharply, with more than half of all children affected in some way. The percentage of children showing signs of acute malnourishment climbed from 8% last October to 12% in July. That is well over the 10% threshold for a severe food crisis, and she fears it is still rising. If acute malnourishment reaches 15%, international agencies consider a country or area to be in a state of food emergency.

“They are getting younger, and the cases more serious,” said Raffalli, who is particularly disturbed about the long-term implications, for individuals and for the country. Malnutrition in the youngest children can stunt development for life.

“If children are severely malnourished under two years old, it has an irreversible effect. The first 1,000 days are the most important in the life of a baby, and sets up the cognitive situation that will affect them for their whole life.”

She is waiting for funding to take the survey, and food support, to a wider range of provinces. It fills a gap in data left by a government that has not published statistics on nutrition for several years, and a gap in support left by failed public support programmes.

But she warns that no feeding programme can do anything more than protect individual children. “We need this help because people are being harmed, they are dying. But it’s a temporary solution, it won’t resolve the problem of supply and access to food.”

Many mothers are already fearful. Luisa García, not her real name, wept when she heard her malnourished son had been nursed back to health by the Caritas feeding project, but not tears of joy. She was still unemployed, with empty cupboards and a bare fridge, and yet the food handouts he had been living on would end.

“On the day they said he was up to weight, I went away crying, because I had nothing to give him to eat. I counted on that food,” the 38-year-old recalled as she waited in line at a church soup kitchen, also organised by Caritas. “We eat like crabs, picking a little where we can. Often only once a day, at best twice.”

The volunteers who make and serve the soup understand the desperation; they too have become familiar with the gnawing pain of an empty stomach. “We are all professionals and we spend almost everything we earn on food and basic needs,” said Rosalinda Rodríguez, a retired teacher who hasn’t bought new clothes since 2014, and has lost 12kg over the past year.

Although she is still in her own words “stout”, she was recently diagnosed with anaemia because she is eating such poor quality food. Another volunteer has shrunk even more. “Life has been totally derailed,” said Ricardo López, a lawyer whose son went to an international school until the crises shrank his salary – paid in bolivares – to far below the foreign currency tuition fees.

Empty shelves in Caracas

Empty shelves in Caracas. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

“I try to leave lunch as late as possible myself, so you can just have a snack in the evening. My colleagues sometimes faint from hunger, or don’t have lunch.”

As with other former members of the middle class, the crisis has brought not just hunger but a hollowing out of his life. Cinemas, meals out, gym membership, even hiking in hills around the city have been cut out by the need to stave off hunger. López, who asked for his real name to be withheld, has so little money left these days after paying for food and other essentials that he could only budget 15,000 bolivares, or a single US dollar, to enjoy the summer holiday with his son.

Instead of beach trips, he spent August weekends feeding those who are even worse off. “We thought no one would come but then we were full. Hunger doesn’t take holidays.”

The crisis has left the promises, and legacy, of former president Hugo Chávez, in tatters. He rose to power and stayed there until his death from cancer in 2013, in large part promising a more equitable distribution of the country’s oil wealth and food security for all. The benefits were real for many Venezuelans, and even if they have not proved sustainable they nurtured a fierce loyalty that carried Maduro to power and a base that is sticking with him through hardship.

Even today his supporters include those who have lost serious amounts of weight, pine for their favourite food, and have been separated from beloved relatives by the vast exodus of Venezuelans seeking a better chance of going to bed on a full stomach.

“If we supported Chávez with oil at $100 a barrel, we have to support him now with it down at $40 a barrel,” said Henny Liendo, a cocoa cooperative member in the village of Chuao. Diets have shifted back to patterns more familiar to parents and grandparents, to fish, root vegetables and bananas, with less sugar, flour and meat.

He sees his curtailed diet and occasional hunger as sacrifices in a bigger war, but mourns for the past. “We were happy and we didn’t know it,” Venezuelans say in towns and villages, looking back over recent turbulent decades. The government’s most recent effort to hang on to Chávez’s legacies has been the boxes of subsidised food, known colloquially by their Spanish initials CLAP, that were launched last year. They bundle imported food together for a low price. They never last a whole month, often little more than a week for large families, but they bring cheap food and much needed variety, staples-turned-luxuries like mayonnaise, butter and milk powder into homes.

When González, the activist, got his first government box after months of waiting, he sat down to a dinner of arepas, the national corn-flour patties, with butter and cheese and a cup of milky coffee. Once an everyday meal, it felt, he said, like a luxurious indulgence.

For the very poorest in this crumbling economy, though, even a dollar to pay for them can be out of reach. “We eat yuca, bananas, green papaya,” said Katiuska Pérez, not her real name, a 28-year-old mother of six, who lives in the village of Tocoron. “When the boxes come I’m allowed two, but sometimes I can only afford one, or none at all.”

Her five daughters all registered as severely malnourished when Caritas did checks, even though like many parents she had been cutting back her own meals to boost their portions.

“I feed them first, so they have enough to eat, and we go without,” she said. Most recovered with feeding support, but on the latest visit her one-year-old had slipped back to six kilograms, a weight more appropriate for a baby half her age. Pérez said she feels hopeless. “We have been screwed for several years now. Everything that Chávez built with his hands has been kicked down.”

Author:

Emma Graham-Harrison