What Impoverished Communities In Venezuela Are Saying About The Current Crisis
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
In Venezuela, protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro continue. The United States and others have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president. And European countries promise to follow suit unless Maduro announces a new election within a week. The bedrock of support for the socialist government has always been among the poor in Venezuela, but that has changed. So we reached out to a Venezuelan journalist who lives in one of the most impoverished areas to get a sense of what poor Venezuelans think of the current crisis. We're not using his name for his protection.
UNIDENTIFIED JOURNALIST: The slum I live in was very, very pro-Chavez. And they even voted for Maduro in 2015. The chavismo won even though in everywhere else in the country, the opposition did. But right now the things with Maduro have gotten really, really bad. People have no enough food, water, electricity. The minimum wage is worth nothing, so they're getting paid $6 a month. So it's really difficult for them to eat. And people start demonstrate spontaneously on the slum, which is something that we have never seen before in at least 15 years.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Tell me about those protests. You say that there were spontaneous. They were inside the actual community in which you live. What were people saying? What were they doing?
UNIDENTIFIED JOURNALIST: Yeah. The main model in this protest was, the people is hungry. We are hungry. And I say they were spontaneous because Juan Guaido was calling for a demonstration in the east of the city very organized. But in the slums, it got a bit nastier. Like, people were burning tires in the middle of the street, throwing rocks at the police. It's different when people rallies in the east of the city, which is the wealthiest and, let's say, the most organized part of the city. In the west, people is more passionate, is more angry because they are the ones who are suffering this crisis the most.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And you are a father, and you have a partner. How do you survive? What is it like there on a day-to-day basis when you live in, you know, an impoverished community, which is being affected the most?
UNIDENTIFIED JOURNALIST: Oh, yeah. It's rather difficult. I mean, sometimes, it's not just about money - general scarcity for stuff. I remember when my baby was a newborn. We couldn't find the special milk she needed because my wife couldn't breastfeed her. So it didn't matter if you had all the money in Venezuela. You couldn't find milk, which is very desperating (ph). I consider myself very lucky because I can at least make three meals a day. But I don't have to go too far to see the situation's pretty bad. I see, for example, my sister-in-law. She has a baby, too. And there have been nights where she told me in confidence that she's been having for dinner just a glass of water with some sugar because she has no food.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You don't want to use your name. You are a working journalist inside Venezuela. And we know that there's been a lot of repression of an independent media. Can you tell me why you don't want to use your name? And what is the situation for journalists there now?
UNIDENTIFIED JOURNALIST: Yeah, it's a huge risk. The government has an enormous intelligence apparatus. So if they find out who you are and if you're working as a journalist trying to tell what's going on in the street, they might target you. The worst part is that they threaten your family. They don't care. I mean, they just want you to stop.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: We've seen millions of Venezuelans leave - young people like yourself. What effect has that had on the country?
UNIDENTIFIED JOURNALIST: There's a lot of sadness. I mean, we have seen, for example, the depression levels in general have increased drastically, the suicide rate. My brother left the country last year. And, you know, I've been with him my entire life. And that was very depressing. I mean, he had to leave because he has two kids, and he has no way to feed them. And it's so sad. And my mother and my father have been so sad about it.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was a Venezuelan journalist speaking to us from Caracas about the situation in his country.
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