Venezuela is a country of shortages: water, electricity, medicine, baby formula, toilet paper, car parts, you name it, they've run out of it.
The devastating food shortage has highlighted the depth of the country's recession, which was triggered by the global collapse of oil prices that began in 2014 and made worse, many experts argue, by the government's socialist economic policies.
There's been violent looting and massive lines in front of state-run supermarkets where people wait hours but often leave empty-handed. There was even a packed procession across an international bridge last Saturday as more than 35,000 Venezuelans walked to Cucuta, Colombia, to buy food during a 12-hour opening of the border.
There have been more than 3,000 protests in the country so far this year, and the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict says more than a quarter of them had to do with the food crisis.
The blame for all this lies on president Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez.
Their "socialist revolution" has caused breathtaking propensity for mismanagement (the government plowed state money arbitrarily into foolish investments); institutional destruction (as Chavez and then Maduro became more authoritarian and crippled the country’s democratic institutions); nonsense policy-making (like price and currency controls); and plain thievery (as corruption has proliferated among unaccountable officials and their friends and families).
All of that became apparent the moment the country entered hard times. The combination of low oil prices (Venezuela's economy is based on oil exports) and the "El nino" caused drought and exposed how badly the Maduro/Chavez socialist regime has managed the country, leaving its citizens facing regular shortages of food, water, medicine power and basically almost anything needed for a decent life.
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