Venezuela, an oil country where people are dying of hunger

Venezuela, an oil country where people are dying of hunger


According to an FAO report, Venezuela is the country in the Americas that has seen the largest rise in undernutrition in recent years. 

Nicolás Maduro had traded his endless jogging for a burgundy suit and tie. With a smile, he clasped hands in Rome when he received a diploma from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for achieving the goals set by the “Zero Hunger Challenge”. with two years in advance. It was five years ago, it was a century ago. Maduro had modestly attributed this tremendous success to his predecessor Hugo Chávez, “extraordinary man who had dedicated his life to this cause”. And the opposition had denounced this “inexplicable scandal”, “at the worst moment for food production, at the worst moment for inflation in the history of Venezuela, at the worst moment of scarcity”, according to the deputy Julio Borges. He could not imagine that the worst was yet to come.

Things have changed. Today, FAO ranks Venezuela among the worst students. His recent report, Panorama of Food and Nutrition Security in Latin America and the Caribbean, 2018, in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization, the UN World Food Program (WFP) and Unicef, tackle Nicolás Maduro for his disastrous results and accuses him of pulling the region down. The honeymoon is over, the UN agency even acknowledging that its results are very likely undervalued, given the opacity maintained by the power. “It is important to note that these are the best estimates that FAO can produce, using the data provided by the Government of Venezuela,” reads the website in the margins of the report. The lack of up-to-date information on inequality in food distribution in the country affects FAO’s ability to deliver accurate estimates. Therefore, what we want to emphasize is the trend, not absolute values. ”

More and more Venezuelans are hungry
And this trend shows a sharp rise in hunger. Thus, Venezuela recorded a record increase in the number of people suffering from hunger, with 600,000 more people between 2014 and 2017. The number of Venezuelans under nutrition would amount to a total of 3.7 million. “The prevalence of hunger has almost tripled between 2010 and 2012 (3.6%) and in 2015-17 (11.7%). Thus, the important progress that the country had made in the decade of the 1990s was lost, “says the report. Other countries to watch include Mexico, with 4.8 million people undernourished, or 3.8% of the population, and Haiti, 5 million or 45.7%. But in both countries, the proportion has declined, as in Colombia and the Dominican Republic. And that one compares Venezuela, former oil eldorado, Haiti, agricultural country, the poorest in America and ranked 168th out of 189 countries for human development, enough to give an idea of ​​the extent of the disaster .

Venezuela, according to the FAO, is even one of the factors holding back progress in the region: “Undernourishment in Latin America and the Caribbean has stagnated since 2014, the prevalence is now around 6.1% of population. However, the number of people who are hungry has increased steadily since 2014, from 38.5 million people to 39.3 million in 2017. This increase is largely due to the situation in South America, specifically to that of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in recent years, added to the context of the economic slowdown that the region has faced in recent years and which coincided with an increase in poverty. ”

Food insecurity promotes exodus
In general, Venezuela slips at the bottom of the ranking for all indicators. A time known for the excellence of his health system, he sees, for example, his maternal mortality rate approaching that of Honduras. In May 2017, Antonieta Caporale, minister of health, gynecologist and obstetrician, who had dared to publish statistics on the subject, after three years of silence, was also brutally thanked after just five months in office. The figures then revealed a 30% increase in infant mortality and 65.79% of maternal mortality, between 2015 and 2016, as well as cases of malaria and diphtheria. They could only get worse since then. The opposition, again, is rebelling. “These are alarming numbers, the Venezuelan consumes less protein every day, domestic production covers only 25% of domestic demand. Maduro is killing the people, denounced MP Carlos Paparoni. Now it is common to see families looking for food in garbage cans, a family member not eating for others to eat, having to sell a good to buy food or spend days without food. to eat, that’s the panorama in Venezuela. ”

One could add that the percentages are to be taken with the tweezers, insofar as they are based on a population of 31 million inhabitants. However, nobody knows how many people have fled the country since 2015. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, after having long held 1.5 million, raised this number to 2.4 million, of which more than 1 million in neighboring Colombia alone, in a report also released last week. But we must see in the estimates of the United Nations, which wishes to be able to continue to operate in Venezuela, a very diplomatic caution. Others do not have these modesty. For example, a well-researched report from several universities in Caracas estimated that 2.5 million Venezuelans had left their country between 2014 and 2017 (4 million since 2010) and that the trend had only increased since then. The study is based not on official host country figures, but on a survey of Venezuelan families whose members have left, thus taking into account illegal immigrants and those with dual nationality (in particular, Colombians) . More recently, a consultancy firm Consultores 21 SA, conducted between November and December 2017, also estimated 4 million Venezuelans abroad.

Unsurprisingly, the FAO report emphasizes the link between food insecurity and emigration and points out that, according to UNHCR, 90% of Venezuelans living in Colombia left because of lack of food and 82% because of lack of work. “The migratory flows fed from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in a short time have consequences for the countries that receive them. Among other things, they experience their institutional response capacity, affect migration services, health and education systems, in addition to representing migrant integration challenges in medium and long-term destination societies, all of which in a context of extreme vulnerability of migrant populations. The Venezuelan crisis, in other words, endangers the entire continent.

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