>> This is one of the most dangerous roads in Latin America, and trucker Umberto Aguilar of Venezuela has one of the most dangerous occupations.>>
> This phenomenon of looting in Venezuela, which has become very acute since December is yet another symbol of the country's slide into chaos with hyperinflation, shortage of goods, and guns all over the street.
But in Venezuela his cargo is as good as gold. As widespread hunger and scarcity have given rise to looting and attacks on trucks carrying milk, rice, sugar, and produce. Reuters' Venezuela bureau chief Andrew Cawthorne explains.>> The truck drivers really have very few ways to protect themselves as they're not allowed to carry arms.
They could go to jail for that. So they try and travel in convoys together, they speed off at the sign of trouble. And they tell each other by telephone messages and WhatsApp groups where trouble spots are. They all complain the government is doing very little to protect them.
>> For these truckers, a quiet haul from Lagrita to Coracus and quickly turn into a scene from Mad Max. With gunmen on motorcycles forcing trucks to pull over. Other looters will hurl stones at windshields, and jump onto the backs of trucks when they slow down. But in some cases, crowds will simply swarm the trucks when they stop at a pothole or for repairs.
As Yoni Escalante recalls after about 60 people appeared out of nowhere when a truck in front of him encountered a mechanical problem.>>
I made it the whole day loading the truck from 8:00 AM in the morning until 6:00 PM. And in half an hour, I didn't have anything, absolutely nothing.>>
What these men behind me face on their daily trips is yet another illustration of the dire situation in which the country is in.>> And it's not just civilians who are helping themselves to cargo. Trucks travelling from the Andes to Caracas must stop at National Guard checkpoints where some soldiers are said to require a bribe, often a sack of potatoes, in exchange for passage.