The Catholic bishop of San Carlos in the State of Cojedes says the country is suffering a famine, and help from the international community is their only hope.
According to the latest study published by the independent statistical studies platform ENCOVI, the levels of poverty and inequality have placed Venezuela in positions previously unimaginable for the Latin American country. Venezuela is reportedly distancing itself considerably from its South American peers, approaching the situation of some countries on the African continent, ranking even below Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to the data collected by ENCOVI, 96% of households are in poverty and 79% in extreme poverty, which means that the income received is insufficient to pay for groceries. Even including other variables related to employment, education, housing conditions and public services, it is estimated that 65% of households are in poverty. To all this is added the COVID crisis which is still in its early days. According to official sources there are 10,428 positive cases and 100 deaths. But the impact on the country’s miserable economy is brutal: 70% of households declared the rise in food prices as the main problem.
Monsignor Polito Rodríguez Méndez, Bishop of the Diocese of San Carlos in the State of Cojedes, in the Central Plains of Venezuela, describes the country’s current situation in an exclusive interview with the international foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN):
“Venezuela has entered a time of famine. Every day things get worse. The economy is paralyzed, there is no industry nor work in agriculture. The Gross Domestic Product is below zero. The most affected are the poorest, who have nothing to eat and no chance to lead a decent life. We need help from abroad to give them something to eat at least once a week,” said the prelate, who just completed his fourth year at the helm of his diocese, which is located some 250 kilometres south-west of the capital Caracas.
“Everything is dollarized: a family earns about three or four dollars a month. An egg carton costs two dollars and a kilo of cheese three dollars … Before the people were poor; now they can’t just make it. The State of Cojedes is known for its mangoes, and so many people have mangoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Elsewhere, I don’t know what they can do. We have been under quarantine for more than two months and everything has become very expensive. We can’t go on like this.”
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