Venezuela has fallen on tough times. The economy is on the verge of collapse, the health care system has fallen apart, inflation is out of control, and grocery store shelves are empty. But now, the actions of Venezuelans are escalating.
On Thursday, hundreds of Venezuelans marched to Miraflores Palace in Caracas, President Nicolás Maduro's place of work, chanting, "We want food!" The protesters were met by the National Guard and police.
Reuters reports that the protest grew larger after some people attempted to hijack a food truck, with people who had been standing in long lines at nearby stores joining the demonstration. President Maduro was scheduled to speak to indigenous groups nearby, and his staff alleged that the protest was the work of opposition forces that are seeking to overthrow his presidency.
Venezuela's woes are myriad, but they have worsened with the falling price of oil. The country has the world's largest oil reserves, but is struggling to repay debts and may default on its loans next year. Inflation rates are unimaginable, with some sources reporting that it currently costs the equivalent of US $150 to buy a dozen eggs.
Amidst the turmoil, Venezuelans can't get their hands on basic commodities like flour, meat, and milk. They're even running out of beer. Empresas Polar—the country's largest private company, which manufactures food and brews several beers—says it has been unable to purchase barley, which must be imported, claiming that the government hasn't permitted exchange for foreign currency. President Maduro, meanwhile, has tried to blame the economic and food crisis on Empresas Polar, saying that the company has scaled back production and is hiding inventories in order to sabotage the economy, according to NPR.
Maduro sees enemies all around, and has accused his foes of attempting to stage a coup. The opposition has called for a referendum amidst protests over shortages, power outages, and rising crime rates.
Meanwhile, people are hungry and angry.
"I've been here since eight in the morning. There's no more food in the shops and supermarkets," a woman told the pro-opposition television station Vivoplay, according to Reuters.
The government is assuring people that food supplies are on the way and has guaranteed that the situation will improve soon. May has been the worst month of the crisis so far, according to the government's chief economic official.
We'll wait and see, but until then, beer is being rationed and will soon run out, and people wait in line for hours in the hopes of securing much needed food.