Category Archives: Venezuela

In Colombia Border Town, Desperate Venezuelans Sell Hair to Survive

CÚCUTA, Colombia — For the past three weeks, Wilya Hernández, her husband and their daughter, 2, have been sleeping on the garbage-strewn streets of Cúcuta, a sprawling and chaotic city on Colombia’s side of the border with Venezuela.

Though Antonela, the toddler, often misses meals, Ms. Hernández has no desire to return home to Venezuela.

“I need an angel,” Ms. Hernández said, holding back tears at 1 a.m. on a humid recent night. “We can’t go back, and we can’t stay here.”


‘It’s humiliating’: plight of Venezuelan middle class is pawn shops’ gain

Not so long ago, Nelly Osorio used to drive a newish car, drink a glass of whiskey every Friday night, and get a manicure at least once a month. But today she is waiting outside a pawnbroker’s to sell off her jewelry.

Like many members of Venezuela’s dwindling middle class, Osorio, 60, has seen her life change drastically over the past two or three years.

The country’s minimum wage is 797,510 bolivars a month – about £2.40 at a black market exchange rate. Osorio still owns an apartment in the eastern part of the capital and as a chemical engineer, she earns 10 times the minimum wage. But every day, she feels poorer.


Venezuela: 18 dead in clash with military at illegal mine

The skirmish broke out when government soldiers raided an illegal gold mine in the town of Guasipati in eastern Bolivar state, local media reported Sunday.

Venezuelan authorities have not released details of the operation, but an unofficial military report quoted by Agence France Presse said “an exchange of shots with several still-unidentified suspects left 18 dead,” including a woman. No soldiers were believed to be among the dead.


Venezuela: Anti-Hate Law Used to Harass Media

This week, the infamous Anti-Hate Law entered a new stage in Cumaná (Sucre State), with its first-ever use against a media outlet: The main board members of newspaper Diario Región Oriente were questioned by officers of Military Intelligence (DGCIM) over an article published on January, 11. Last month, two protesters became the law’s first casualties.

Journalist Yndira Lugo, director of the paper, endured a two-hour meeting, saying the case was brought by a Popular Struggle Circle (Circulo de Lucha Popular), a low-level PSUV branch of Cumaná. The investigation will now pass to the Public Ministry.

The article, titled “The Communists warn!” (¡Los comunistas lo advierten!), is based on quotes made days earlier by Perfecto Abreu, a high-ranking member of the Venezuelan Communist Party, who said that Venezuela is “at the gates of great social unrest” and that the majority of Venezuelans feel “uncertainty, indignation and desperation… over the aggravation of the socio-economic situation in the country.”


‘We loot or we die of hunger’: food shortages fuel unrest in Venezuela

Amid desperate food shortages Venezuelans are picking up new survival skills.

On the night of 9 January, for example, a hungry mob took just 30 minutes to pick clean a grocery store in the eastern city of Puerto Ordaz. By the time owner Luis Felipe Anatael arrived at the bodega he’d opened five months earlier, the looters had hauled away everything from cold cuts to ketchup to the cash registers.

“It makes you want to cry,” said Anatael in a telephone interview. “I think we are headed for chaos.”


More than half a million Venezuelans have fled to Colombia

BOGOTA (AFP) – More than half a million Venezuelans have taken refuge in Colombia to escape the crippling economic crisis in their country, Bogota’s migration authority said Friday.

It said the number of Venezuelans entering the country — 550,000 — had increased by 62 percent in the last year.

Venezuela’s crisis “has not only forced thousands of nationals to return to Colombia, but also caused Venezuelans to see our country … as a means to transit to other destinations, to settle or to purchase essential products,” said Migration Colombia director Christian Kruger.


Venezuela Targets the Catholic Church

Vatican diplomacy is known to move slowly and cautiously. The Pope is the spiritual leader of some 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, but he commands no armies and his statecraft runs mostly on moral authority. He and his representatives understandably prefer quiet, behind-the-scenes advocacy to public grandstanding. But from time to time, it becomes necessary for the Holy See and the Pope himself to throw down the gauntlet to worldly authorities that threaten the Church and her flock.

Such a time is at hand in Venezuela.


“In the mornings, you see well-dressed people looking for leftovers in the garbage…”

Venezuela: A country in meltdown

Venezuela, a country of 30 million people, sits on the world’s largest oil reserves but has been suffering a massive economic downturn since global crude prices fell dramatically three years ago.

The government has not published inflation data for more than a year. But the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecast an inflation rate of 2,350 percent for 2018.

In an attempt to cushion the effect of inflation at the end of December, the Venezuelan government implemented the sixth wage and pension increase in a year, raising the minimum wage by 40 percent.


Food riots grip western Venezuela, mob reportedly slaughters cattle in field

SAN CRISTOBAL/BARINAS, Venezuela, Jan 11 (Reuters) – Hungry mobs ransacked a food collection center, and a supermarket in Venezuela’s western Andean state of Merida on Thursday and reportedly even slaughtered cattle grazing in a field as unrest over food shortages spread through the country.

An opposition lawmaker from Merida, Carlos Paparoni, said four people had died and 10 were injured in the chaos over the last two days, but he did not specify the circumstances.

Four years of recession and the world’s highest inflation have plunged millions of Venezuelans into poverty, and President Nicolas Maduro’s authoritarian socialist regime faces mounting unrest.


Triumph of Venezuelan Socialism: 4 Rolls Of Toilet Paper Now Costs Only Half Of Monthly Minimum Wage!

NAIGUATÁ, VENEZUELA — The thin, elderly woman paused at a supermarket display of toilet paper to do a quick calculation. A four-roll package cost 115,204 bolivars, almost half of the country’s new monthly minimum wage.

“Keep believing in the revolution,” she scoffed aloud Wednesday at the store in Naiguatá, a coastal community about an hour’s drive northeast of Caracas, the capital.

Why do I get the nagging feeling this will be Ontario’s reality shortly?


Decoy Cellphones and Armored Cars: How Venezuelans Avoid Being Robbed

Armed robbers knock on windows of cars stuck in traffic and say, “Give me everything.” Men snatch cellphones and jewelry from passing pedestrians. Kidnappers follow people home in their cars at night, and demand ransoms from their families.

Making it safely through the day in Venezeula’s capital, Caracas, one of the world’s most dangerous cities, requires a careful mix of planning and precaution. As the Venezuelan economy has crumbled, rising crime has created what one local group called a “feeling of permanent and silent fear.” Here’s how four middle-class residents told us they try to stay safe.