A food’s plebiscite

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Venezuelan National Assembly has called to a plebiscite in response to the government’s tentative to impose an all powerful Constitutional Assembly without going through a mandatory referendum to approve it. What is at stake is the continuation of an oppressive political system that has collapsed the economy.

People are going to vote for the right to eat while the government is using hunger as a tool for ideological and political control. Food scarcity is so acute that, Nicolas Maduro had all but threatened to starve those that vote against the Constitutional Assembly.

A recent Freedom House report on Venezuela describes the undergoing crisis in the country as one of the “worst experiences of social degradation in its recent history.” It confirms all accounts indicating that the destruction of the health system is unprecedented for a country without a war. 1 in 3 Venezuelans that go to a hospital dies. Access to health and food reached the crisis point in the last two years, and the deteriorating situation continues.  The organization declared Venezuela a “non-free” country and has denounced that despite a growing humanitarian crisis, the government and the Supreme Court (TSJ) have obstructed any attempts to pass economic reforms and enable Venezuela to receive foreign medical aid.

The humanitarian organization Caritas has also reported that  “11.4 percent of children under five are suffering either from moderate or severe acute malnutrition” (The World Health Organisation’s crisis threshold for child malnutrition is 10 percent).

A US Department of Agriculture internal report, using Caritas and other sources, depicts the situation in numbers:

Food availability: 30% local produced and 70% imported. However, imports have reduced to 53% in the current year and local production remains the same. This has caused a serious gap in food availability.

Food inflation: 833% annually.

Basic Consumption Basket (including food, hygiene items, housing, utilities, transportation and health) for a typical family of 5 (two workers and three children): Approx Bs.1.200.000  (6 minimum monthly wages including food stamps).

CLAPS: A small bag of food distributed by the military and government loyalist that is only available to 10% Venezuelans and cover 30% of the need.

Lack of infant formulas and nutritional supplements in hospitals: 74%.

Severe children malnutrition: Over 11%.

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Sobre el Autor

Roger Santodomingo

Periodista (UCV, Caracas) y Magister en Ciencias Políticas (LSE, Londres), es Senior Fellow del CDDA - IQ Americas. Es autor de libros y ensayos de análisis político, el más reciente De Verde a Maduro: El sucesor de Hugo Chávez (Random House, 2013). Ha trabajado como productor y presentador del Servicio Mundial de la BBC, reportero y editor de medios impresos (Exceso, El Mundo, TalCual) y audiovisuales (Venevisión, CNN, Telemundo) y Productor Ejecutivo de Efecto Naím en NTN24.