Other than Erika and a few other sources, the American news media seems to have largely ignored the Venezuelan conflict that has left nearly 40 dead. And now that conflict — plus the general failings of a dictatorial nation — has led to further food and other shortages:

Battling food shortages, the Venezuelan government is rolling out a new ID system that is either a grocery loyalty card with extra muscle or the most dramatic step yet towards rationing in Venezuela, depending on who is describing it.

President Nicolás Maduro‘s administration says the cards to track families’ purchases will foil people who stock up on groceries at subsidised prices and then illegally resell them for several times the amount. Critics say it’s another sign the oil-rich Venezuelan economy is headed toward Cuba-style dysfunction.

Registration begins at more than 100 government-run supermarkets across the country on Tuesday and working-class shoppers – who sometimes endure hours-long queues at the stores to buy cut-price groceries – are welcoming the plan.

Meanwhile, the political strife continues unabated:

Government allies of President Nicolás Maduro said last week that María Corina Machado would be kicked out of the National Assembly for speaking on Venezuela’s political crisis in front of the Organization of American States in Washington last month as an invited guest of the government of Panama. They say Ms. Machado, among Mr. Maduro’s most vocal critics, violated the constitution, which prohibits parliamentarians from accepting public posts from other countries without the approval of Venezuela’s congress. Ms. Machado didn’t seek such approval before her appearance in Washington.

The country’s highest court on Monday backed that view in a statement posted on its website. It said Ms. Machado’s move was “not only detrimental to the legislative function for which she was elected, but in clear contradiction with her duties as a Venezuelan and as an assemblywoman.”

Ms. Machado called the stripping of her title an “institutional conspiracy” and refused to relinquish it.

Rightly, much attention has focused on the geopolitical and economic threat of Russia, especially as it makes moves against Ukraine. And given that CNN and Bill O’Reilly have to make money, their exhaustive coverage of the missing plane makes sense. But let’s be real, here — Venezuela has huge oil exports and reserves, and has been a geopolitical foe of the U.S. for years. That alone makes the rioting and other unrest in the nation worthwhile.

Most importantly, though, a large and populous nation has been thrown into economic and life-threatening distress. While not every nation can get dominant coverage all the time — nations like North Korea and Syria see enormous death counts and instability, for example, and many African and Caribbean nations are very poor and in need of political restructuring — this is something that deserves more coverage.

But for some reason, the black-out of the Venezuelan unrest seems to be continuing.