Venezuela is in crisis.
Sky News has reported on desperate citizens trying to sell their hair to make money, walking miles in the baking heat while carrying their newborn babies to buy food over the border and one of the country’s biggest hospitals in Caracas has no medicine.
This deprivation is rooted in a damaged social and economic environment.
Nicolas Maduro, who is ignoring calls to give up power, rose to become the country’s socialist leader in 2013.
His position is disputed, with left-wing leader Juan Guaido being recognised by some international leaders as interim president.
What is certain is the harsh reality of life for the 30 million of Venezuelans who cope with a depressed economy and a lack of social protection.
By looking at rates of poverty, emigration and crime, we can tell some of the story of how Venezuela has reached this crisis point.
Poverty is rising in Venezuela.
This surge is due to hyperinflation, according to the National Life Conditions Survey by Bengoa Foundation for Food and Nutrition.
Hyperinflation causes the rapid erosion in the value of local currency. Put in simple terms, this would mean your daily loaf of bread can double in cost over a short period of time.
In 2018, the inflation rate reached 1.35m%. In comparison, the UK’s rate in 2018 was 2%. The IMF predicts the rate in Venezuela could rise to 10m%.
People’s salaries are not keeping up with the rate of inflation.
The levels of this income poverty more than tripled since the beginning of the Venezuelan crisis five years ago.
Almost nine out of 10 (87%) households were classed as poor in 2017.
Poverty isn’t just people losing their ability to buy items.
The multidimensional indicator, which combines incomes with other variables such as housing, employment rates and social protection, increased by 10 points between 2015 and 2017.
While the country’s wealth shrinks, people are eating less because they can’t afford to buy food.
According to the last available food survey, carried out in 2017, two-thirds of the people said they went to bed hungry because they had not been able to buy food.
As poverty grows, people leave – often in search of a better job.
Around 696,000 Venezuelans left the country in 2015, but three years on, emigration tripled to 2,649,000.
Neighbouring countries, such as Colombia and Panama, have seen the highest increase in Venezuelan migration.
This map shows the approximate number of Venezuelans emigrating to selected countries.
The International Organisation for Migration warns that it is difficult to quantify irregular migration as well as population in transit because of a lack of sources. The rate could be higher.
Similarly, the figures for refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons might be an underestimate.
Up to mid-September 2017, the UN group for refugees estimated there are around 173,000 Venezuelans classed as refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced people.
Although official data for 2018 isn’t available yet, other evidence suggests that the true number is likely to have grown.
Although the official homicide rate in 2018 fell to its lowest level since 2013, with 81 homicides per 100,000 people, Venezuela is still one of the most violent countries in Latin America compared to El Salvador (60/100,000) and Honduras (40/100,000), according to the Venezuelan violence observatory.
In 2017, one in five people in Venezuela was a victim of a crime and 90% of the population believed violence in the country became worse, according to the National Life Conditions Survey.
:: What next?
The IMF predicts a rise in the unemployment rate of 30% from 2018 to 2023.
The GDP per capita, which indicates a country’s living standards by looking at the value of what the country produces divided by its population, is set to continue to fall – but at a much slower rate.
This could mean that Venezuelans will be able to take advantage of a slightly more stable environment, albeit an economically and politically fraught one.
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