As food grows scarce, Venezuelans turn to dumpster diving

To the long list of degradations the people of Venezuela have to suffer because of their awful socialist government, you can now add dumpster diving. The Associated Press reports that people desperate for food have now turned to rooting through the garbage for meals:

Until recently, Julio Noguera worked at a bakery. Now he spends his evenings searching through the garbage for food.

“I come here looking for food because if I didn’t, I’d starve to death,” Noguera said as he sorted through a pile of moldy potatoes. “With things like they are, no one helps anyone and no one gives away meals.”

Across town, unemployed people converge every dusk at a trash heap on a downtown Caracas sidewalk to pick through rotten fruit and vegetables tossed out by nearby shops. They are frequently joined by small business owners, college students and pensioners – people who consider themselves middle class even though their living standards have long ago been pulverized by triple-digit inflation, food shortages and a collapsing currency.

The socialist revolution started by Hugo Chavez was explicitly designed to spread the wealth around and lift the country’s poor out of poverty. For a while it did, which thrilled socialists around the world as a visible sign of success. But now, with a few more years of corruption, central economic planning and a downturn in oil prices, Venezuelans are desperate and hungry.

Venezuela’s poverty had eased during the administration of the late President Hugo Chavez. But a study by three leading Caracas universities found that 76 percent of Venezuelans are now under the poverty line, compared with 52 percent in 2014…

Nearly half of Venezuelans say they can no longer afford to eat three meals a day, according to a recent poll by the local firm Venebarometro. The poll surveyed 1,200 adults at their homes the first week in April and had a margin of error of plus or minus of about 2 percentage points.

Venezuelans have been trying to remove the socialist government. Last December, voters gave the opposition control of the National Assembly but that body has limited power in a country largely run by the dictates of socialist president Nicolas Maduro. The opposition has started a recall referendum to remove Maduro from office but the government has been slow-walking the process. The goal seems to be to delay Maduro’s removal until next year when, under Venezuelan law, Maduro’s socialist vice president would serve out the remainder of his term.