The Venezuela crises in photos - GulfToday

The Venezuela crisis in photos


A man scavenges for food in a rubbish bin in Caracas. Photographer: Carlos Jasso/ Reuters

To ward off hunger, Venezuelans forage for meals in garbage bins. Gulf Today political team brings you the details from the South American country embroiled in a power struggle.

CARACAS: Bloody violence may have subsided for now at Venezuela's blockaded border, but for local people, terror has turned to anxiety about how they will reach the schools and shops they depend on. Tony, a 36-year old security guard, rummages through the garbage bins of a wealthy district in Caracas on his days off work, scavenging for food as Venezuela's economic meltdown has left even the employed struggling to find enough to eat.


Men throw a metal desk over the Simon Bolivar Bridge between Venezuela and Colombia. Marco Bello/ Reuters

"I smell it and if it smells good, then I take it home," said Tony, who declined to disclose his last name because he does not want his wife and four children to know how he has been putting food on their table for more than a year.

He said he typically finds scraps of meat, cheese and pieces of vegetables on his garbage runs. "I wash it with vinegar, a lot of water, and I add onion and sauce.

"I smell it and if it smells good, then I take it home

Scenes of Venezuelans picking through garbage in a search for something to eat has for years been a symbol of the nation's economic meltdown, which has been marked by widespread shortages of food and medicine as well as hyperinflation.

But the problem received renewed attention this week after the South American nation's socialist government deported American journalist Jorge Ramos, who showed a video of people eating garbage while he interviewed President Nicolas Maduro.

Maduro, who has been in power since 2013 and was re-elected last year in a vote widely viewed as fraudulent, has previously dismissed journalists' questions about garbage consumption, saying they were part of a U.S.-backed propaganda campaign against his government.

Indigenous Venezuelan children rest at a shelter in Brazil. Ricardo Moraes/ Reuters

A man eats as he scavenges for food inside the trash bags in Caracas. Carlos Jasso/ Reuters

A demonstrator falls after getting caught in barbed wire in Urena, Venezuela. AFP

Indigenous Warao children from Venezuela, are pictured at a shelter in Brazil. Ricardo Moraes/ Reuters

Venezuelan demonstrators wave a flag outside the San Martin Palace in Buenos Aires. Agustin Marcarian/ Reuters

A Venezuelan indigenous child rests at the Janokoida shelter in Brazil. NELSON ALMEIDA/ AFP

Indigenous Venezuelan children of the Warao tribe at a shelter Brazil. Nelson Almeida/ AFP

A Venezuelan resident in Argentina holds a banner. Juan Mabromata/ AFP

He denies there is a humanitarian crisis in his country and says foreign governments are seeking to undermine him.

Venezuela's Information Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

It is not uncommon for poor and indigent residents of the world's wealthiest nations to root through dumpsters. But it is rare in those nations for people with full-time jobs to rely on garbage to sustain their families.

Prices in Venezuela are rising more than 2 million percent per year, and the country's minimum wage, worth around $6 per month, buys little more than a tray of eggs.


Venezuelan scavengers dig through trash at a landfill in Brazil. Nelson Almeida/ AFP

Many Venezuelans rely on remittances from relatives who have joined an exodus of an estimated 3.4 million people since 2015, according to the United Nations, while others depend on government food handouts.

"I've had to teach my children to eat everything

Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who in January declared himself to be Venezuela's interim president, led an effort last week to bring humanitarian aid into the country, but troops blocked trucks from getting in.

Most Western nations including the United States have recognized Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate president.

"I've had to teach my children to eat everything," said Estefani Quintero, 35, a mother of seven who travels two hours to Caracas from a distant suburb to trawl garbage bags. "Of course it's the government that's at fault for this. We used to eat breakfast lunch and dinner, we even threw away food."

Agence France-Presse