CARACAS – The deep crisis afflicting Venezuela brought scarcity and hunger, which in turn has entire families looking for food scraps in rubbish dumps, with many poor people fighting among themselves over something to eat or some recyclable item they can sell.
Speaking with some of the people who rummage through the garbage these days, many told EFE that while there are many dumps, not all are worth digging through.
The “best” places with “good food” are those where restaurants, bakeries and markets throw away their trash, and it is precisely those “territories” that are “busiest” and most “fought over” by the needy, and also by some gangs which, they said, take advantage of their plight.
The hours of these city dumps are well known by those seeking something to eat and who hunker down around them to rummage through each new trash delivery.
The unfortunate tell of clashes between the hungry and those who take advantage of them by selling bags of “food” found among the garbage to those who could find nothing to eat.
Brayan, a 26-year-old woman who “takes care” of cars in downtown Caracas and has lived on the street for almost a year, told EFE that in her area there are 45 other people in the same situation, without work, many with children and all without anything to eat.
“I struggle here every day, fighting for a bag that I know contains good cooked food to give my kids – you almost get to the point of stabbing someone to get it,” the woman said on a corner piled with garbage from a restaurant.
Brayan, the mother of two children ages 8 and 9, said she has to find food on the street, and though she studied to be a medical assistant, she said she can’t get a job because of the crisis.
Even if she had a job, she wouldn’t make enough to live on.
“They pay you so little – what are you going to do with 20,000 bolivars (around $30)? Two sardines and a kilo (2 pounds) of flour...anyway, who wants to stand in line from 2:00 am in the morning to 3:00 pm in the afternoon so they can tell you they’re out of flour,” she said.
The minimum wage in Venezuela is 27,092 bolivars, equivalent to $40 (or just over $8 at the black market rate), in a nation with galloping inflation and severe shortages of basic products of all kinds, particularly of food and medicines.
In the trash heap where Brayan collects her food, people find ham, cheese, bones and chicken skins and, very often, the food is still warm from being cooked, which irritates many to think that these businesses would rather throw food away than give it to the poor.