Starving in Venezuela


My cousin, Fabiola, kept a 30-day diary on what it’s like to feed her family in Venezuela.         (photograph by Bloomberg)

The last time I was in Venezuela was back in 2009 when I went with my siblings and I took my kids along to see the many family we have there. I even wrote a blog series about it which you can read here.

Well, that was six years ago and already much had changed under the stronghold of then leader Hugo Chavez, and since then, things have gone from bad to worse. Chavez drove Venezuela into the ground and Maduro, who took over after Chavez’s death, buried it, putting the nail in the coffin.

Many of my family have left, dispersing to Spain, Portugal, Mexico, the United States and even as far off as to Australia. Those that haven’t been able to leave remain, but there are fewer there each day and it breaks my heart that they’ve had to leave a country they love because the quality of life they were once used to, has vanished.

These days, the hardest thing to come by is food. Staples like milk, bread, rice usually entail waiting on long lines to try to get some. Frankly, Venezuelans are starving. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  The basic infrastructure that helps any country succeed–hospitals and medicine, electricity, the internet–is sketchy at best. Power outages abound.

My cousin, Fabiola, is an investigative journalist, still living in Caracas.  She recently kept a diary for Bloomberg News  on her struggles to feed her family.  Here’s her story. I urge you to read it.

For, as my sister writes, Fabiola’s “my pipeline to what’s happening down there and I’m thrilled she is sharing her truth with the world, however maddening it is.”

Read Fabiola’s diary, then watch this video from the New York Times that explains the problem of why there’s no food right now in Venezuela:



13 thoughts on “Starving in Venezuela

  1. Monica, this breaks my heart. I just read an article from another fellow blogger re: cuts in SNAP and government funded nutrition programs. Hunger is demoralizing on so many levels.

    I read several entries of Fabiola’s diary One day reads like another – a hopeless search for food sources, each one to be encountered by a difficulty or constructed barrier of some kind. I also watched the video which demonstrates just how protracted the problem is in Venezuela. Countries in the Caribbean are often hit hardest when they are heavily dependent on single-crop, single-product exports as a chief source of income. My homeland of Dominica experienced (and still does to some degree) this decline when the rest of the world depended on it less for its sugar and banana industries. Looks like an intervention is impending as the violence will only increase. When folks have their backs up against the wall and it comes to feeding their families, it’s no telling how much worse it will get before it gets better.

    Thanks for sharing Fabiola’s account with us. Gets us out of our cocoon for a spell. Reminds us that the rest of the world has its own set of problems that many of us don’t even know about!

    • You are so right, SomerE. We think our problems are so bad in electing a president, and to some extent, it’s true. But no where near as bad as in other countries. Like Syria and Venezuela. Unfortunately the US media has not really been covering the devastation in Venezuela. But tonight I saw a story on the NBC nightly news. The situation is dire and soon it’ll be a known fact here too.

      • My heart aches for our fellow brethren and sistren, dear heart. There’s so much that is unsettling about this world right now, it’s almost impossible to find a resting place to perch unfettered. So many dictators and abusive powers are leading their people into a ditch. Their people are paying the ultimate price for the gross errors, greed, and mishandling of their governments, the world over. Just a real travesty.

  2. My heart goes out to your family who have had to leave and to your cousin who has to endure such hardship. To know it is only just the beginning of Venezuela’s troubles makes me so sad. That it is further exacerbated by the government’s inability to care selflessly for its people with basics like food and medical which we take for granted, complain about and politicize, makes me more aware of my role in the world. I tell my kids as often as I can they need to be globally responsible citizens not consumed with first-world issues.

    I’m so glad your cousin shared her story. It is heart wrenchingly powerful.

    • Thanks, MM. It’s amazing what they’ve had to endure but this is when I appreciate the resiliency in people and how somehow my family is finding a way to survive despite everything that’s going on there. When my parents moved to this country, they had a choice. They were among the few that left. Now it’s different. Those that can, are leaving in droves. The rest stay because they’re somehow tethered to their country or because their health doesn’t allow them to leave or because they’re too old to start over. And yet staying means making other sacrifices. Sigh.

  3. We certainly have our problems in this country, but a reality check is in order. This may be something closer to you on a personal note, but it has to touch a nerve in anyone who reads it. Thanks for putting the journal out there.

  4. Monica, it saddens me to think of anybody starving. It angers me to think that politicians could be so selfish and stupid as to run an entire country into the ground. And it frustrates me to think no country or people are immune from the possibility of a similar fate. Bless your cousin for telling the tale!

    • It’s a combination of running the country into the ground and not planning ahead so as not to rely on oil as the only source of income. For years, it worked as we saw the price of oil continue to go up. Now, they’re in free fall and I know they’ve yet to hit rock bottom.

  5. It’s so sad Monica that things we take for granted others can’t even get. How often when we turn on the tap for running water do we think of those who must walk miles just to get a bottle full?

    I have tweeted a link to this blog post.

    Certainly I will read the links with great interest and no doubt sadness

    Normally I will make some humorous comments when I comment on your blog post, but this post is not the time to do humorous comments.

    • Thanks, Robert. It’s grim to see family suffering so. I wish I could help them all. I wish they could all get out and frankly I cannot imagine what it would be like to feel that leaving a country where you grew up, the only country you know, would be better than staying. Heartbreaking.

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