CNN reporters spent a week in Venezuela in the midst of the current crisis. Today the site published a story on what is driving it and the answer, not surprisingly for those who have followed this story, is food.
The latest violence is not another episode of the unrest that periodically blights Caracas’s poorest; it feels new and different, say Carolina’s family, like change is nearer. One cousin, named Ronny, said: “We can’t hold it in any more. We are being crushed. We are beggars now, always begging. This isn’t political, it’s survival. People are killing each other for a kilo of rice, or flour, or water.”…
As the dispute over who should lead Venezuela escalated to a larger geopolitical struggle between the United States, Russia, China and others, we spent nearly a week inside the country attending protests, talking to soldiers, meeting rich and poor. Their live crisis is not about the fate of socialism in South America, or Cold War-era geopolitics, they told us. It is a very simple emergency of hunger.
The average Venezuelan lost an average of 11 kilos (24 pounds) in 2017, the result of years of inflation, economic mismanagement and corruption. Venezuela was once the richest petrostate in the region, but in one Caracas supermarket last week, no eggs or bread could be found. A modest basket of water, nuts, cheese, ham and fruit cost $200 US…
Anticipating spiraling costs and plummeting buying power, vendors end up charging tomorrow’s prices today. Even fancy supermarkets frisk shoppers and search their bags as they leave, as food has become the most precious commodity.
People may not believe their current hunger connects to geopolitics but it does connect to the brand of socialist anti-capitalism revolution that Hugo Chavez sold to the country and which is hand-chosen successor Nicholas Maduro has vowed to perpetuate at all costs. The simplest way to know this is political is that it will not end until the current socialist regime does. But it is worrisome to think there are still some people in Venezuela who don’t see the connection between the socialism they voted for and the outcomes they are now suffering.
For the moment, it seems Maduro still holds the upper hand because the generals are remaining loyal. However, the rank and file are no better off than anyone else and the majority of them are sick of the situation. One soldier tells CNN, “I would say about 80% of the army is against the government, especially the troops, who are going through a lot more than the officers.” It’s not going to take much more for Maduro to topple. As the soldier says, “We need a general to flip to make a change.”
Here’s CNN’s video report. This is actually much stronger than the text story. Reporter Nick Paton Walsh refers to the country, ironically, as a “socialist paradise” and notes that many people have remained loyal to Maduro because he was distributing food directly to them. There is no love left for this socialist regime.