Girls in North America, primarily in the U.S. and Canada, tend to celebrate their coming of age with a Sweet 16 birthday party. Girls in Venezuela, on the other hand, are in such deep poverty they can’t even afford a cake for their birthday.
We all know that for the past year or so, Venezuela has been tumbling down a long path of economic instability. However, the economic crisis has gotten so bad that Venezuelans all over the country are literally whittling away.
According to new research, the majority of Venezuelans are only eating two meals a day, and nearly a third have noticed significant weight loss since the economy began its severe downturn last year. This represents a full 32.5% of the population while that statistic was 11.3% back in 2015.
The political and economic instability all started in 2014 when President Maduro implemented severe food rations in the wake of an oil price crash. Oil has been the backbone of Venezuela’s economy for decades.
The data from the Venezuela Living Conditions Survey (ENCOVI) goes on to show that in 2016, a whopping 81% of Venezuelan families were living in a state of income poverty. This was an increase of 4.6% from the year before.
On top of that, 74% of the population reported an average weight loss of 19 pounds in the past year.
ENCOVI is an annual survey on the overall condition of Venezuela. It is researched by professors at the Central University of Venezuela, the Andres Bello Catholic University, and Simon Bolivar University. It surveyed 6,500 families all multiple economic levels across the country.
Amid 700% inflation and an 80% currency collapse, over 93% of families told researchers that they didn’t have enough money and/or income to cover even their basic food needs. This causes them to have to replace red meat, chicken and other types of protein with potatos and other starches. Lack of protein not only leads to malnutrition but extreme weight loss as well.
ENCOVI Researcher Maritza Landeta puts these Venezuelan eating habits into perspective for Fox News.
She says, “There is a change in eating habits patterns from 2014 [when Encovi surveys began]. Previously Venezuelans consumed primarily rice, breads and pastas; now it’s tubers. In our qualitative studies we observed mothers who say that they fed their children only with bananas or auyamas [a kind of pumpkin] to satisfy their feeding needs.”
Plus, the survey also discovered that 65% of families had to make their children skip school just so they could wait in six-hour long supermarket lines for their daily food rations.
Generally speaking, there are three main types of contaminants that can cause unsafe food: biological microorganisms, chemicals found in cleaning solvents and pest control, and physical matter like hair and dirt. In Venezuela, the food that is accessible is most likely contaminated in at least one of these three ways.
Sadly, Venezuelan police have noticed an even more disturbing trend — the carcasses of dogs, cats, donkeys, and anteaters have been found in garbage bags around the nation. Even zoo animals have been hunted in the middle of the night by those desperate for meat.
What’s worse? This nationwide food shortage is referred to as “The Maduro Diet.”