The people of Venezuela are looking through garbage for food.
Residents of the nation’s capital, Caracas, have resorted to fighting over and eating old, rotting food thrown away in garbage bags outside restaurants and shopping malls. People — including small business owners, students and pensioners — who had once been middle class, scrounge for salvageable food as their living standards deteriorate because of high inflation, collapse in oil prices, declining currency and food shortages.
"They're ripping through garbage bags searching for food, the government says this is not happening, but we are very hungry here in Venezuela," reported a man with a camera.
"We are starving, we are eating dog food and food meant for farm animals," a local man complained.
Chaos has ensued as hungry “thugs” steal schoolchildren’s lunches. Supermarkets have endless lines and not enough food; consequently, lootings are common and many major supermarkets have witnessed violence that left several people dead and injured.
While some are eating garbage, others are rescuing bruised fruit to sell them for a price of a few bolivars.
"I'm a trained baker, but right now there's no work anywhere here,” said Julio Noguera, who dumpster dives for an income. “So I make do with this.”
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President Nicolas Maduro has accused supermarkets and private food companies of hoarding food for speculation and announced a system where he will import thousands of ton of basic food supplies and distribute them directly to family homes. But opponents of the government believe the new system will discriminate against them.
Venezuela has experienced a sharp increase in poverty level since the administration of late President Hugo Chavez. As opposed to the 52 percent of the population under the poverty line in 2014, Venezuela now faces a population of 76 percent impoverished citizens.
Almost half the residents can no longer afford three square meals a day, after a poll surveyed 1,200 adults at their homes in the first week of April — the time when the nation’s department of food revealed the country had only 15 days of inventory left. Since then, conditions have only worsened, with people eating stray animals for food.