Roughly one-third of Venezuela’s population is unable to reach minimum nutrition requirements, a recent study by the United Nations World Food Program has found.,
Researchers concluded that the nationwide concern is due to economic crisis and political upheaval in the country, which has led to “hyperinflation [that] renders many salaries worthless,” according to the Associated Press.
A total of 9.3 million people are moderately or severely food insecure, according to the study, which found that a startling number of Venezuelans are surviving off a diet of mostly potatoes and beans. The World Food Program defines food insecurity as an individual being unable to meet basic dietary needs.
The problem is evidently not one of food availability, but of food affordability, with 7 in 10 reporting that while food could always be found, it is difficult to purchase due to high prices. And 37% also reported that they had lost their job as a result of the economic crisis in the country.
The survey also discovered that over 60% of households have adopted “food-related coping strategies,” which include rationing and limiting the variety of foods to be able to afford it. One-third admitted to accepting food as payment, and one-fifth said they have sold family assets to cover basic needs.
“The reality of this report shows the gravity of the social, economic, and political crisis in our country,” Miguel Pizarro, a Venezuelan opposition leader, told the Associated Press.
The study, which sent out 8,375 questionnaires and then analyzed responses, was surprisingly welcomed by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who has been previously been reluctant to allow researchers in the country.
A warning for Americans
With the rise of avowed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to the top of the Democratic presidential field, the study may serve as a warning of what socialistic policies could look like in practice.
Only days ago, a Venezuelan entrepreneur warned Americans in an interview with Fox News that socialism, quite literally, kills people. And earlier this month, Venezuelan Americans communicated a similar message, hoping to persuade voters in the U.S. to not let socialism happen here.
Sanders has heaped praise on communist and socialist regimes in the past and has refused to denounce Maduro’s reign in Venezuela.
President Trump, on the other hand, has taken a hardline stance on Maduro by placing a total economic embargo on his socialist regime and supporting the leader of his opposition in the country, Juan Guaidó.