WASHINGTON, May 6, 2017 – Venezuela is in chaos as hundreds of thousands of protesters are demonstrating against the government of President Nicolas Maduro and the Venezuelan Supreme Court decision to strip power from the opposition-held congress, the National Assembly.
The people, already under duress with reports of starvation, children and older people digging through garbage seeking edible food, empty store shelves for those that have money and the fear of out of control diseases, there is fear over the expansion of Maduro’s increasingly unpopular government.
People, from students to housewives and retirees, have rampaging in the streets, confronting National Guard troops armed with tear gas and water cannons. On Thursday, footage emerged of an armored car rolling over protestors, then backing up over them.
Note: This is a disturbing video
According to Associated Press reports at least 37 people have died in the fierce crackdown by security forces while some 700 people have been wounded and more than 1,000 arrested.
People are protesting because, despite have the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela is suffering from a deep recession coupled with hyper-inflation. The economy is a mess.
In 2016, and in general, prices of general goods rose by 800 percent. The International Monetary Fund is predicting inflation could hit 2,200 percent by the end of 2017. Reuters reports that in 2016 Venezuela’s economy 18.6 last year.
Food and medicine shortages are creating a humanitarian emergency as people wait in long lines, reminiscent of Soviet Era images, to buy the most basic food.
Roberto, a 51-year-old Caracas resident who owns his own electrical supplies business, explained why his fellow Venezuelans were taking to the streets.
“It is common to find people scavenging for food at garbage dumps and everywhere people are eating off garbage cans,” said the father-of-one who spoke on condition that his last name was not used out of fear of government reprisal. “People are starving. You see misery everywhere.”
Hospitals are without everything, from antibiotics, to basic sanitation equipment like medical gloves and soap.
“A lot of people have left the country, those that can have gone overseas. But for those like me that are still here, all we can do is fight,” said Roberto. “We are fighting for free and honest elections, we want to recover democracy.”
Voice of America highlights one Venezuelan, Carmen Elena Perez, who cannot afford food to fill her refrigerator.