Communist Starvation in Venezuela
The more things change, the more they stay the same
(BBC) Venezuela - Travelling through the country this month I saw endless queues of people trying to buy food - any food - at supermarkets and other government-run shops.
I was stopped at a roadblock in the middle of the countryside by people who said they had eaten nothing but mangoes for three days.
I saw the hopeless expression of a mother, who had been eating so little that she was no longer able to breastfeed her baby.
I met a woman affectionately known as la gorda - "the fat one" - whose protruding cheekbones indicated just how much weight she had lost in the last year.
|Mostly empty shelves in this Caracas supermarket in June|
I felt sympathy for all these people, but it was my family who really brought it home to me.
My brother told me all his trousers were now too big. My father - never one to grumble - let slip that things were "really tough". My mother, meanwhile, confessed that sometimes she only eats once a day. They all live in different parts of Venezuela, but none of them is getting enough to eat. It's a nationwide problem.
A study by three of the country's main universities indicates that 90% of Venezuelans are eating less than they did last year and that "extreme poverty" has jumped by 53% since 2014.
The country's official inflation rate was 180% in December, the last time a figure was made public, but the IMF estimates it will be above 700% by the end of the year.
"But this will only be available once a month!" a young mother, Liliana, exclaimed at the roadblock manned by people eating nothing but mangoes.
She admitted to going to bed in tears on days when she had been unable to give her two children any dinner.
In western Venezuela, in the oil-rich province of Zulia, I visited several small towns where people didn't know what they would eat the following day.
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