CARACAS, Venezuela — Poverty in Venezuela has been increasing since 2007, and in the last two years, it has become a severe problem. At the beginning of 2013, 21.2 percent of Venezuelans lived in poverty, and by the end of that year, 27.3 percent were considered poor. Currently, one out of three Venezuelans are poor, and one in 10 are considered to live in extreme poverty.
The measurement of poverty in Venezuela consists of comparing a family’s yearly income with the cost of a representative basket of goods for one year. This basket includes food, clothing, housing, transportation, health care, education and communications. If the family’s yearly income is below the cost of this basket of goods, then the family is considered to be poor. Additionally, if a person’s income cannot afford a representative basket of just food and drink, the person is considered to live in extreme poverty.
Venezuela is currently enduring various hardships, all of which are contributing to the rising levels of poverty in Venezuela. The most significant obstacle is its economy. Venezuela’s economy is almost entirely based on oil exports; 96 percent of the country’s incoming money is from oil exports. The oil industry, however, is very inefficient and Venezuela often receives less money than their exports should indicate.
Inflation is another major concern in Venezuela right now. The inflation rate is approximately 56 percent, and is driving families into poverty. Any income at all is becoming less valuable because of the high prices of goods. Inflation can especially be seen in the prices of foodstuffs, where inflation is around 74 percent.
The citizens of Venezuela are very displeased with their leadership, and are not shy about showing it. Many of those demonstrating their frustrations are being called “new poor,” meaning that they were in the middle class prior to inflation, but are now facing poverty. Protests, riots and other demonstrations against the government have been going on for months, but to no avail.
The government, instead, is blaming conspiracy theories for the chaos in their country. President Nicolas Maduro refuses to reform the current economic system in place in Venezuela.
It is difficult for Venezuela to progress when a large percentage of the population is living in poor conditions. The only hope for improvement is for the government to recognize the reality of its problems and provide solutions for their people.