June 28, Joshua Partlow and Mariana Zuñiga
CARACAS, Venezuela — In the darkness the warehouse looks like any other, a metal-roofed hangar next to a clattering overpass, with homeless people sleeping nearby in the shadows.
But inside, workers quietly unload black plastic crates filled with merchandise so valuable that mobs have looted delivery vehicles, shot up the windshields of trucks and hurled a rock into one driver’s eye. Soldiers and police milling around the loading depots give this neighborhood the feel of a military garrison.
“It’s just cheese,” said Juan Urrea, a 29-year-old driver, as workers unloaded thousands of pounds of white Venezuelan queso from his delivery truck. “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
The fight for food has begun in Venezuela. On any day, in cities across this increasingly desperate nation, crowds form to sack supermarkets. Protesters take to the streets to decry the skyrocketing prices and dwindling supplies of basic goods. The wealthy improvise, some shopping online for food that arrives from Miami. Middle-class families make do with less: coffee without milk, sardines instead of beef, two daily meals instead of three. The poor are stripping mangoes off the trees and struggling to survive.
“This is savagery,” said Pedro Zaraza, a car-oil salesman who watched a mob mass on Friday outside a supermarket, where it was eventually dispersed by the army. “The authorities are losing their grip.”
What has been a slow-motion crisis in Venezuela seems to be careening into a new, more dangerous phase. The long economic decline of the country with the world’s largest oil reserves now shows signs of morphing into a humanitarian emergency, with government mismanagement and low petroleum pricesleading to widespread shortages and inflation that could surpass 700 percent this year.
Read More at The Washington Post.