I've been reporting on Venezuela for five, six years now so I've become used to lines at soup markets of hundreds, if not thousands, of people who are desperate for real basics like bread or flour or sugar. The real turning point though came in June this year. People weren't able to get those basic goods even after standing in line.
They tell me they had maybe a mango for dinner the previous night or the last meal was bread for lunch the previous day. So there was a real wide spread visceral hunger. This manifested itself in food riots and lootings across the country. People living in slums and armed gangs would wait until nightfall to hijack food trucks.
One woman was shot dead after looting outside a food warehouse. I went down to a tiny supermarket in a really poor area of Caracas, outside the scenes were horrific. There were hundreds of people, adults, the elderly, children screaming, we want food, let's loot it. And this, of course, was for just two bags of pasta.
One woman in the crowd fainted and had to be carried away. There was an elderly woman as well just lying on the sidewalk sobbing. This is what Venezuela has become, she told me. One guy was telling me how he supported the government's food distribution mechanism. But as I interviewed him, he was chased away by the crowd.
Now many of these people did get their two bags of pasta. But, of course, that's not a sustainable solution to the problem. Things are far worse now the economy is in tatters, inflation is in triple digits. Wads of cash like this, which is worth what, half a dollar are ubiquitous everywhere.
And still it's not enough, people are still complaining that they're hungry.