Jan 30, 2018
A youth moves quickly to collect grains of corn on the street that fell from a truck that was looted outside the port in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela.
At the country’s biggest port, people swarmed a corn-carrying truck and began filling up sacks with the grain while the driver was held at gunpoint.
Sporadic looting, food riots, and protests driven by the hungry poor have surged in Venezuela, a country that’s no stranger to unrest. But the uprisings playing out recently have a different face than the mostly middle-class protesters who took to the streets for months last year in political demonstrations trying to oust President Nicolas Maduro.
“These protests are coming from people of the lower classes who simply cannot get enough to eat,” said David Smilde, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America, who has spent decades researching Venezuela. “They want relief, not necessarily to force Maduro from power.”
Venezuela holds the world’s largest oil reserves and was once among Latin America’s wealthiest nations. But after nearly two decades of socialist rule and mismanagement of the state-run oil company, it is being battered by the worst economic crisis in its history.