The government continues its unrelenting denial of the scarcity crisis in Venezuela. Yesterday, Minister of the Interior and Peace Carmen Melendez said that when Venezuelans line up for food it’s not because of scarcity, but because they choose to:
Those who come [to line up] at two in the morning do so because they want to.
Melendez made the comments during a press conference in which she announced increased police and National Guard presence at supermarkets around the country to help keep the peace. Videos have surfaced on YouTube this week showing large crowds of shoppers fighting each other over groceries and basic necessities at supermarkets. The vice-president of Nutritional Security, Carlos Osorio, spoke to the media today and made the following remarks:
The Venezuelan opposition wants to make people nervous (…) They spread images through social media [of] alleged groups of people who go out onto the street to protest. It’s all a campaign of manipulation, of lies, of fear. They want to send subliminal messages to the whole world.
When asked how he felt about the images of Venezuelans lining up for food, Osorio said that he was proud:
What we find is lots of product [in the supermarkets] and a huge influx of people (…) We’re proud that people are going to our distribution centres, or the private ones.
La Patilla spoke with a man named Jesus Calderon in eastern Caracas as he waited in a line outside a supermarket. Jesus said:
This is the worst level of scarcity that I’ve seen in 30 years. Before, there wasn’t enough of certain products, but never all at the same time, and they’d never completely disappear. There’s no food.
Caracas Citizens Protest Scarcity Neighbours from the Candelaria area of Caracas took to the streets today to protest the severe scarcity affecting the country. The group of citizens are upset that they are given numbers to line up for basic staples such as sugar, flour and coffee, all which are found (if at all) in very limited quantities. Carlos Julio Rojas, a coordinator for the Asamblea de Ciudadanos de Candelaria [Candelaria Citizen’s Assembly] spoke to the media during the demonstration, and said:
The human rights of all Venezuelans are being violated by the food crisis in the country. It’s inhumane that we have to line up for three to eight hours to buy food. Meat and chicken have completely disappeared from many supermarkets. The people of Caracas are no violent. The poor people are the ones who are suffering the most because of this economic crisis and because of the food scarcity.
Rojas also blamed the national government for the crisis, and highlighted the fact that the poor are the ones who are suffering the most:
The national government is responsible for the scarcity. Trust fund kids aren’t the ones lining up. It’s the people from Cotiza, Pinto Salinas, Candelaria, San Jose, Catia, El Valle and Petare [slums in Caracas] who line up to be able to eat whatever little they can find.
Below, some more evidence of lines outside supermarkets and pharmacies today. A line outside an establishment near the Avenida Fuerzas Armadas in Caracas: http://i.imgur.com/JjWg0UN.jpg A video by La Patilla showing a line outside the Bicentenario supermarket in the Terrazas del Avila neighbourhood in Caracas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vHh4mUH-mY Two pictures showing crowds outside the same establishment today: http://i.imgur.com/CPDKGXg.jpg http://i.imgur.com/8DqWiHD.jpg Finally, a video showing a confrontation between a small group of demonstrators and National Bolivarian Police officers in Chacao, Caracas last night: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL8As1LoCJ0 Oil Ends Week at Five Year Low Venezuelan oil ended the trading week at its lowest level in five and a half years, trading for $42.44 per barrel.