A young woman faints in the heat as hundreds fight for pasta, screaming they are hungry. Slum-dwellers and armed gangs wait for nightfall to hijack food trucks or ransack stores. A mother is shot dead fleeing police after hundreds storm warehouses.
Food riots and violent looting have become a daily occurrence across scarcity-struck Venezuela and a major problem for the struggling leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro.
Despite hours in lines, Venezuelans increasingly find that coveted supplies of subsidized flour and rice run out before they can buy them. Many are skipping meals, getting by on mangoes stripped from trees – or taking matters into their own hands.
On a recent morning in the rundown, garbage-strewn Caracas district of El Valle, some 200 people pushed up against police guarding a supermarket as they chanted, “We want food!” and “Loot it!” A few at the front were allowed in for two bags of pasta each.
“We’re not eating. People are desperate for a looting,” saidmother-of-three Miza Colmenares, 55, who had spent the night in line and not eaten since the previous day when she had eggs for breakfast.
One young woman fainted in the heat, an elderly lady cried uncontrollably on the sidewalk and the seething crowd chased away a government supporter.
Supermarkets have become flashpoints across Venezuela, one of the world’s most violent countries.
More than 10 lootings occur every day now, according to the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, and are increasing in the usually more insulated capital.