Sat | Mar 24, 2018

Venezuela, short on food, short of hope

Published:Friday | February 24, 2017 | 12:00 AM
In this February 12 photo, students hold an anti-government protest to mark the third anniversary since the killing of student protester Bassil da Costa by security forces during weeks of unrest in Caracas, Venezuela.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP):

Venezuela is so short on food that tens of thousands are going hungry or even starving. Its murder rate is among the highest in the world. Its economy is so crippled that the average shopper spends 35 hours a month waiting in line - three times more than in 2014.

Yet even as the country becomes increasingly unlivable, the socialist government is more entrenched than it has been in years. A sense of hopelessness has settled over what was once among the richest nations in South America, a belief that nothing will really change.

To understand why people have given up, look at Jhorman Valero and his family.

Three years ago, Valero dragged his 24-year-old cousin, Bassil da Costa, to join thousands of others in a nationwide protest against the administration of President Nicol·s Maduro. Hours later, Bassil was bleeding in his arms, the first of more than 40 people to be killed during weeks of unrest. Staring numbly at the floor, Valero recounts how he watched his cousin's skull come apart under his baseball cap from a bullet shot by security forces.

Now Valero and Bassil'ssister, Yenicer da Costa, no longer bother to protest, even on the anniversary of the 2014 protest.

"What's the point of protesting if they just kill you in the streets and, three years later, everything is even worse?" she said.