State of emergency declared in Caracas after study shows 17% forced to dig through garbage for food

CARACAS, Venezuela, Sept. 20 (UPI) — Henrique Capriles Radonski, governor of Venezuela’s Miranda state, on Monday declared a state of emergency over food insecurity, saying 17 percent of people feed themselves by going through garbage.

Capriles Radonski declared the state of emergency for the region, which includes the capital of Caracas, citing a report that said 77.5 percent of the population has gone to sleep hungry due to a lack of food. He said just 41.2 percent of Venezuelans meet the standard of three meals a day, while 85.3 percent are afraid of running out of food at home.

“We are in an emergency situation,” the governor said during a press conference at a local school, adding that about 63 percent of Venezuelans have had to leave work early to search for food. He added that just 10.7 percent of the population has been able to access a government social welfare food program under President Nicolas Maduro.

The state of emergency decree will allow for increased funds to be spent on school kitchens and school food subsidy programs. The decree will also allow the government to take action to get more protein in supermarkets and to promote food production and processing.

“The most vulnerable are our children, and according to a survey we did in July and August, 50 percent go to bed hungry … and for nearly a third, the only food they eat in their day is at their school,” Capriles Radonski said.

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Venezuela’s economic crisis, which was exacerbated by a fall in oil prices, has led to a shortage of basic goods — including food and medicine. Maduro’s regime has taken various steps, such as ordering the military to take control of five ports as part of “war strategies” to help distribute food and medicine amid the economic crisis.

Maduro was recently criticized by the Venezuelan opposition for spending more than $120 million to host the 17th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. The opposition is seeking to hold a recall referendum in which citizens would be asked if Maduro should be removed from power by the end of the year.

“Our children go hungry while Maduro and his regime squander the resources that are of Venezuelans in a show that is a mockery of our people,” Capriles Radonski said in a statement.

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