CARACAS, Venezuela (CBSMiami) – A deepening economic crisis in Venezuela is forcing its citizens into poverty at an alarming rate, and in a country where humanitarian aid is not available, people are taking desperate measures to survive.
Adriana Sanchez is 19 years old. She holds her 7-month-old daughter as she digs in a trash bag left on the curb in search of food.
She hopes to find something – a leftover piece of bread, maybe some vegetables.
Sanchez also has a 3-year-old son and works cleaning houses.
The single mother said her husband was murdered and this is the only way she can feed herself and her children, even if it means getting sick.
“Well, once I ate some rice that had worms in it and I got stomach sickness. I did not notice it, but now, well, I’m going to check before I eat it,” she said.
This is the everyday reality for the poorest in Venezuela. The country’s economic crisis has turned into a humanitarian one, leaving people more and more desperate.
Jose Godoy is an unemployed construction worker. He said his hungry children cry to him asking for food, and he has no choice but to hunt through the trash, along with many others.
“There are thousands of us looking through the trash to eat. Thousands. There is not one of us, or two, or four. There are thousands who are on the streets looking for something to eat to survive,” Godoy said. “If they sell something to you, they sell you two flour breads, a bit of rice. Sometimes when you line up, there is nothing left. You have to go home without anything.”
A living conditions survey found that nearly 82 percent of Venezuelan households were living in poverty last year, compared to 73 percent in 2015.
The nation, led by President Nicolas Maduro, is in an economic meltdown as a result of a drastic drop in world oil prices.
Oil accounts for 90 percent of Venezuela’s exports.
The country is now short on food and medical supplies, but the Venezuelan government has refused aid from international organizations – including the U.N.
That’s hard to swallow for people left with no choice but to scavenge for food to survive.
Maduro is bearing the brunt of the blame for the country’s economic crisis. There have been calls for him to resign and for new elections, but so far he has refused to step down.