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Lootings Soar in Venezuela
World Economy

Lootings Soar in Venezuela

Venezuela's economy is in tatters and food shortages have reached critical levels as the country battles the world's highest inflation rate and a deep drop in oil production, its only source of revenue.
Street protests and lootings are now a daily occurrence. At least four people have died in these protests and looting crackdowns in recent days in the South American nation.
Keric Valladares, a bakery worker, told Al Jazeera how his shop was ransacked by looters.
"It all happened in five or six minutes," he said. "One doesn't know what can happen in a moment like this, because Venezuela is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. If they can kill you for a mobile phone, imagine what can happen here."
Valladares explained how he was forced to abandon his bakery when looters took the cash register and broke the glass box where the cigarettes are kept.
"The people did this are from the area," he said. "It is Venezuelans hurting Venezuelans."

Shops Closed
Residents barricaded their shops Friday in a Venezuelan city hit by violence after the country's food crisis erupted into deadly looting, AFP reported.
Police arrested hundreds of people in the latest unrest, which heightened hardship and political uncertainty in the impoverished oil-producing nation.
Some shop owners welded their shutters closed in the old colonial city of Cumana, where dozens of stores were looted on Tuesday.
"It ended in total ruin because the businesses had not only their stock pillaged but also their furniture. It was total destruction," said Ruben Saud, president of the Cumana Chamber of Commerce.

Failure of Socialist Policies
According to a local monitoring group, the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, more than 10 incidents of looting are occurring daily across the nation of 30 million people, which is suffering a brutal recession.
Venezuela's political opposition says President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez are to blame for failed socialist economic policies.
The opposition is pursuing a recall referendum this year in an effort to remove him from office.
But Maduro, 53, says his foes are waging an "economic war" against him and seeking to foment a coup.
Government officials say there is not enough time this year to organize a referendum.

Ripping School System
The soaring crime and economic chaos stalking Venezuela is also ripping apart a once up-and-coming school system, robbing poor students such as Maria of a chance at a better life, AP reported.
Officially, Venezuela has canceled 16 school days since December, including Friday classes because of an energy crisis.
In reality, Venezuelan children have missed an average of 40% of class time, a parent group estimates, as a third of teachers skip work on any given day to wait in food lines.
At Maria's school, so many students have fainted from hunger that administrators told parents to keep their children home if they have no food.
"This country has abandoned its children. By the time we see the full consequences, there will be no way to put it right," Movement of Organized Parents spokeswoman Adelba Taffin said.
Venezuela is a young nation, with more than a third of the population under age 15, and until recently its schools were among the best in South America. The late president Hugo Chavez made education a centerpiece of his socialist revolution, using the riches from a historic boom in the price of oil to train teachers and distribute free laptops. The government even renovated Maria's 1,700-student school and installed a new cafeteria.
In just a few years, all of that progress has been undone. A fall in the price of oil combined with years of economic mismanagement has brought the country to its knees, along with many of its seven million public school students. The annual dropout rate has doubled, more than a quarter of teenagers are not enrolled, and classrooms are understaffed as professionals flee the country.

 

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