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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Shortages, economic crisis make Venezuela a nation of lines

In an impoverished hilltop neighborhood, a dense labyrinth of narrow alleys, mostly shuttered shops and cinder-block homes, residents trudge toward a protruding pipe discharging a trickle of murky water.
Someone has switched on a pump to start the uphill flow to the area, where power blackouts and low pressure make running water a luxury.
People soon gather lugging their plastic pails and jugs. The source is irregular, the quality substandard, and yet the residents here in this northern stretch of Caracas’ gritty Petare district still line up for the dubious privilege. 
“Lines, lines, lines,” lamented Anjelica Aguilera, 29, who waited for her pail to fill from the dripping pipe. She was among a dozen or so waiting. “We are all sick of lines!”
Venezuela’s financial crisis has transformed this sprawling capital into a city of lines, where multitudes face the regular indignity of queuing up for basics — from pasta to toilet paper, rice to bank notes.
The lengthy, dehumanizing lines — a fact of life throughout the country — represent the most dramatic illustration of the human toll of Venezuela’s unforgiving economic breakdown. Each morning before dawn, legions of the city’s humblest inhabitants venture forth to brave the lines, unsure if their quest will even yield what they need.
“I left my home at 1 a.m., walking down through the barrio and taking two minibuses,” said Estela Martinez, 41, a mother of four who was found in a multi-block-long line outside the Plansuarez   supermarket in La Trinidad district of east Caracas. “At this point, I doubt anything will be left. But what choice do I have?(Read More)