In Venezuela, where the South American nation’s economy continues to implode under its socialist government, a video of children and adults scrambling to grab food scraps and refuse showed scenes of hunger and desperation. The video, according to Venezuelan journalist Luis Olavarrieta, was recorded in El Cementerio neighborhood in Aricagua, a town in Portuguesa State of northwestern Venezuela. Adults and children grapple with each other in the video, grabbing what appear to be bunches of rotten bananas and plantains that were dumped in the street by a vendor.
According to Olavarrieta, every day it is more common to see Venezuelans going to garbage dumps to satisfy their growing hunger.
#21Mar Sin palabras. Escenas que duelen y reflejan la crisis que vivimos: En Portuguesa un vendedor de cambures botó los desperdicios en el suelo, niños y adultos corrieron a buscarlos. Vía @ElPitazoTV. pic.twitter.com/QVASRP7kZv— Luis Olavarrieta (@LuisOlavarrieta) March 22, 2018
According to Venezuela’s Asopadres -- a national group of families -- malnutrition among school-age children reached the level of 62 percent in February. Asopadre president Jhonny Martinez told El Diario La Verdad de Vargas that mothers who belong to his organization cannot find enough food for their children, due to the economic crisis. He explained that schools do not provide food either, due to failings on the part of the country national school nutrition program. Martinez said that he would issue a demand for an official investigation of the schools to determine the number of malnourished children, arguing that President Nicolas Maduro’s government is trying to cover up the reality.
The leader of the teachers’ union of Vargas State, Santos Sivira, said that his colleagues had not received any food for their students throughout the month of January. “Our students are malnourished,” Sivira said, “and this has an effect on the learning process because a hungry student cannot perform well in school.” In late February, in an act of apparent desperation, a family left the body of a deceased family member on the steps of the mayor’s office in Turen, a region in Portuguesa State.
According to local media, the family did not have the money to provide a coffin or burial. The deceased was reported to be a man of middle age. The body was wrapped in a dirty cloth as a shroud. According to online news outlet El Pitazo, the deceased had lived in a settlement known as Las Tejas and died from complications of tuberculosis. The family of the deceased went to the Turen mayor’s office to ask for burial assistance but were turned down. The body was then left outside the office.
Later that evening, a local merchant donated a coffin in which the body was taken away. According to La Republica newspaper of Peru, a witness observed, “Thank God for that because there were people threatening to leave another corpse at the mayor’s office at Villa Bruzual, the seat of Turén. Turen mayor Onofrio Cavallo belongs to Venezuela’s United Socialist Union Party.