A Diary of Trying, Mostly Failing, to Find Food in Venezuela

A Bloomberg reporter charts her efforts over a month
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2016 10:56 AM CDT
Updated Jul 24, 2016 7:03 AM CDT
A woman sits on the stool she brought with her as she waits in line outside a supermarket to buy food in Caracas, Venezuela.   (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

(Newser) – Venezuela is in dire straits, and plenty of stories catalog how the nation's political crisis is setting off a humanitarian crisis as well. (Like so.) But for a more personal look, check out the diary kept by reporter Fabiola Zerpa at Bloomberg as she remains on a constant hunt for food and other necessities for herself, her two kids (ages 8 and 10), and her husband, Isaac. The first entry on June 9 notes that Venezuelan adults are assigned two days a week to shop for regulated staples at government-set prices based on their national ID numbers. Hers are Thursday and Sunday, though "Sundays are useless" because stores pretty much gave up selling goods on the weekend a while ago and Thursdays "are only marginally more useful" given the hours-long wait at supermarkets with no guarantee of finding anything. After doing a drive-by and determining the lines were prohibitively long, she doesn't even try that day.

Five days later, she does manage to buy vegetables, but meat is nowhere to be found. "And I pay about twice as much as I had just five months earlier." On June 25 she heads to a farmers' market, "a luxury I know that millions of Venezuelans can't afford" (the free-market pricing is illegal but flies all the same). "After spending an hour picking out fruit, vegetables and meat, I get in line to pay, (but) the Internet system that links the debit-card scanner to the banking sector crashes. ... A half-hour goes by. There are now 30 of us waiting to pay. ... A couple of elderly men give up. They put down their grocery bags and walk off. A few minutes later, I join them." She gives up once more on July 7—again her day for staples—this time after waiting a couple hours in line, never even making it inside her local supermarket. Click to read the full piece. (Read more Venezuela stories.)

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