As the country’s economic problems mount, towns and cities have been hit by an outbreak of looting and violence
Amid desperate food shortages Venezuelans are picking up new survival skills.
On the night of 9 January, for example, a hungry mob took just 30 minutes to pick clean a grocery store in the eastern city of Puerto Ordaz. By the time owner Luis Felipe Anatael arrived at the bodega he’d opened five months earlier, the looters had hauled away everything from cold cuts to ketchup to the cash registers.
“It makes you want to cry,” said Anatael in a telephone interview. “I think we are headed for chaos.”
Evidence for his prediction can be found in towns and cities across Venezuela that have been hit by an outbreak of looting and mob violence. Angry about empty supermarket shelves and soaring prices, some people are breaking into warehouses, ransacking food trucks and invading outlying farms.
During the first 11 days of January the Venezuelan Observatory for Social Conflict, a Caracas rights group, recorded 107 episodes of looting and several deaths in 19 of Venezuela’s 23 states.