The daily battle for survival in Venezuela

After three weeks of protests, living conditions in the South American nation are more precarious than ever   Armed repression has caused more than 20 deaths among demonstratorsArmed repression has caused more than 20 deaths among demonstrators

Caracas, Apr.24.─ The anti-government protests that have rocked the Venezuelan capital of Caracas over the last three weeks have created an increasingly polarized city where two distinct realities live in parallel. In Petare, one of the country’s poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods, residents at the local market look for fruit and vegetables, while people stand in line outside a grocery store that has shutters across its windows.

Customers are limited to four packets each of rice and sugar, as well as the same number of bottles of cooking oil. People are taking advantage to stock up ahead of the continued street protests. A packet of rice now costs 4,700 bolívares, equivalent to $1, with the price creeping up as it works it way through the chain of hands in the black market.

Venezuela, an oil producer dependent on crude prices, is in the grip of rampant inflation, with the IMF estimating price rises of more than 1,700% in the coming two years.

For the last year, the country has been in the throes of an unprecedented crisis that is hitting it from all sides: it has the highest inflation rate in the world, violence is rampant, people have trouble finding and buying necessary everyday items, and the very fabric of society is breaking down.

Meanwhile, a world away in the nearby Las Mercedes district ...

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