Hunger in Venezuela? A Look Beyond the Spin
Christina Schiavoni and William Camacaro
You may have seen the headlines about Venezuela – headlines that allude to food scarcity, rioting, people eating stray animals to survive, and a country on the brink of starvation. These stories are not only alarming, but perplexing, too. Is this the same country that was recognized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as recently as 2015 for having nearly eradicated hunger?[i] Is this the same country that has been the focus of international delegations and extensive alternative media coverage for its ‘food sovereignty experiment’ involving agrarian reform, food distributions programs, and direct citizen participation in the food system?[ii] What’s going on?
There is a nuanced story behind the current headlines on Venezuela. It’s a challenging moment for average working class Venezuelans as they navigate long lines at the grocery store, a lack of key food staples, and inflated prices in order to feed their families.
But there’s not an overall food shortage — food is in abundance, with distribution serving a bottleneck.
There are numerous explanations coming from both government and citizens. What is driving the current ‘scarcity amidst abundance’ in Venezuela? How did the present situation come to be? How dire is it, and what are the responses coming from communities, social movements, and the government? To what extent is the present situation being distorted in the media, and why? This article attempts to delve behind the headlines to address these questions.