Continued Food Shortages in Venezuela Spark Social Media Outcry

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Venezuela has been suffering from food shortages for a while now. Shortages of basic needs have become the norm in Venezuela over the past few years, but as images from citizens continue to swarm social media sites it only seems to be getting worse. The government has reportedly taken control of all major television stations, leaving only social media as one of the few ways to see what’s going on inside the country.

Venezuelans are posting the pictures for that very reason. According to the polling firm Datanalisis, the Venezuelan people believe this is the biggest problem facing their country and the government isn’t doing anything about it. According to public opinion expert, Marcelino Bisbal, “the people, mostly poor and middle class have to queue for hours almost every day to search for food and other basic products such as detergent, toilet paper, and oil.”

The YouTube video above claims to show empty shelves in a supermarket in Venezuela. Social media sites are routinely being used by media opposed to the Venezuelan government to show the world what the government is failing to address. One of the officials behind the anti government website called Dolar Today stated in an interview with BBC:

Definitely there has been an increase in these kinds of videos, every week we get between five and ten, Without a doubt, there is a chance that they might be false, or out of date. But the vast majority of the cases are real.

Venezuela used to be known for producing coffee, rice, and oil, but with the recent food shortages productions have decreased, according to Asdrubal Oliveros, an economist at Ecoanalítica, a leading consulting firm in Venezuela.

The government continues to ignore the problem, causing many Venezuelans to believe the government’s mismanagement is behind the shortages. In January 2015, Interior Minister Carmen Melendez stated,“Don’t fall into desperation, we have the capacity and products for everyone, with calmness and patience. The stores are full.”

However, pictures from Venezuelans tell a different story. Activists believe it is important to show the pictures to the world and allow the international community to see the reality of Venezuela. Marcelino Bisbal, a public opinion expert, added, “This is highly dangerous in a country where the government policy is not to say a word about this, as if it’s not happening.”

In 2013, President Nicolás Maduro stated that the food shortages were being artificially created by the opposition and the CIA. President Maduro backed up this claim by claiming that the CIA was somehow involved in the death of Venezuela’s previous president Hugo Chavez. He stated that a U.S. Air Force attaché had been expelled from Venezuela hours before Chavez’s death and accused him of seeking military support for a plot against Chavez. He also claimed that the CIA is forming a wider plan to destabilize his government in addition to sabotaging the oil industry, creating food shortages, and triggering power cuts.

While there are multiple reasons for the instability in Venezuela that is causing the food shortages, the government’s apparent attempts to ignore the problem are drawing more attention to the country. Government officials continue to claim that their policies are not the problem and they have nothing to do with the food shortages, but the fact that they have done nothing to ameliorate them is certainly concerning.

Earlier this year, the government deployed the military to control food supplies, making sure citizens do not overindulge. Venezuelans now deal with militarization, food shortages, and a tanking economy. With the government in control of the television and offering the people little hope of reform, Venezuelans have shown the government they can not be silenced or ignored and they will continue to use social media to convey the truth.

Jennie Burger
Jennie Burger is a member of the University of Oklahoma Class of 2016 and a Law Street Media Fellow for the Summer of 2015. Contact Jennie at



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