By Gabriela Gonzalez.
“Venezuelans endure food violence.” That is how Susana Raffalli – a noted nutritionist specialized in food security management, humanitarian emergencies, and disaster risk – defined the current complex humanitarian crisis in Venezuela right now.
Venezuela is entering its fourth year of hyperinflation. The minimum wage is below $1 a month, and more than half of the labor force makes just that. During the presentation, Raffalli said that no measure is enough in a dysfunctional economy.
Raffalli helped present the results of the so-called “The Hunger Survey,” which was taken in Caracas by the Venezuelan Finance Observatory and the political party Primero Justicia.
The survey, which had a sample of 950 persons interviewed by telephone, showed that people just in Caracas are hungry, said lawmaker Leonardo Regnault.
According to the data of the survey, carried out in 12 parishes of the Libertador municipality, 74.1% of those consulted indicated that they are eating less than they did in December 2019.
73.9% indicated that they ate less animal protein concerning what they would eat in December 2019, while 82.3% consider that their income is insufficient to acquire food for their family.
For lawmaker Fatima Suarez, the result means that four of five Venezuelans cannot buy food in Caracas, even though the city is the center of power. The capital does not escape the crisis that affects the whole country. “These are alarming numbers in the capital of the country,” said Suarez.
The poll also shows that 49.6% of those polled only eat two meals a day. The figures show a significant drop in food consumption in 74% of the households in 12 parishes in the Libertador municipality between January and October 2020.
Making hungry visible
Raffalli was thankful for the initiative, which, according to her, it helps make hungry visible. “For many families, making visible what they are living in their last chance to save themselves,” says the nutritionist.
Although eating one or two meals a day is not necessarily a sign of food insecurity, Raffalli said the trend denotes a troubling pattern nationwide.
Venezuelans have eliminated some foods (animal protein, mostly) from their daily diet because of the impossibility of buying them. The fact that less than 30% are consuming meat or dairy products is of concern to Raffalli. “We have become in a soft-diet population,” explains the expert, referring to the increase in consumption of tubers.
She also explains that the anemia occurring in children under five and pregnant women “is consistent with a large-scale public health crisis that will have repercussions.”
Raffalli also emphasizes the inconvenience of continuing to use the minimum income against the value of the basket. For her, the current value of what a person earns per minimum wage is only evidence of the destruction of work and purchasing power under Maduro’s regime.
“Hunger is the starting point for the mass destruction of families. It is a cluster bomb: a family with hungry, is capable of anything,” he says.
Pushed by hungry, families can start by looking for food in dumpsters, selling their personal belongings, and, eventually, end up transacting food for sex.
The expert also confirms that hungry escalated with the pandemic. Caritas, the largest Catholic charity and an NGO Raffalli advise, is now receiving some 2,500 children a month when until recently, it only was getting about 550.