Looting Sweeps Venezuela as Hunger Takes Over
132 Incidents Tell of “Desperation and Discomfort” Sinking In
It’s the law of the jungle in Venezuela, as shopping for groceries becomes an increasingly dangerous activity. As the shortage crisis worsens, more and more angry mobs are raiding the nation’s supermarkets, looting whatever basic goods they can find.
During the first half of 2015, the Venezuelan Observatory for Social Conflict (OVCS) registered no fewer than 132 incidents of looting or attempted looting at various stores throughout the country. In addition, Venezuelan consumers staged over 500 protests that condemned the lack of available products at state-run grocery stores, markets, and pharmacies.
The OVCS has documented at least 132 incidents of looting (saqueos) or attempted looting in Venezuela in the first half of 2015 alone. (OVCS)
The report, titled “Social Conflict in Venezuela during the First Half of 2015,” also notes that 2,836 protests have taken place this year over various demands, including labor issues, housing, security, and education, as well as food shortages.
The number of total protests, however, has dropped compared to the same period last year, when 6,369 anti-government rallies took place, leaving 43 dead, hundreds wounded, and dozens of political prisoners detained.
With an average of 14 protests per day, the unrest has Venezuela “trapped in a spiral of social and political conflicts that grow over the months, and which could become more acute due to the forthcoming parliamentary elections,” the observatory notes in its report.
On the other hand, the South American country has experienced a surge in protests over labor issues. The NGO reports that demonstrations over these issues increased by 50 percent compared to the same period last year, with 162 labor protests per month.
High inflation and the drastic decline in the value of the bolívar on the black market has hit wages hard. Venezuelans currently earn the lowest incomes on the continent, with a minimum wage of US$10.87 per month, based on the unofficial exchange rate.
Marco Antonio Ponce, general coordinator for the OVCS, tells the PanAm Post that the rise in protests and vandalism stems from a widespread dissatisfaction with the government among the public.
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