In Venezuela, even an economist can’t afford to fill her shopping cart


At a supermarket in Caracas, the shelves are stocked with vinegar, salt and sardines and not much else. “There’s nothing to eat,” says one shopper. “I mean, you’re not going to drink vinegar.”

Rosalba Diaz pushes her shopping cart through what, at first glance, seems like a well-stocked supermarket in Caracas. But looking closer, she can see that many of the shelves are jammed with bottles of vinegar, boxes of salt and cans of sardines.

“There is nothing to eat. I mean, you’re not going to drink a bottle of vinegar,” she says.

Venezuela is in the midst of a humanitarian emergency. After several years of political and economic crises, many Venezuelans are not getting enough to eat. According to the latest Venezuela Living Conditions Survey from 2016, an estimated third of the population is now reduced to eating two or fewer meals a day. And the country’s economic deterioration is increasingly affecting people from all social classes.

Diaz, 66, is an economist at a Caracas consulting firm, but she says her salary cannot keep up with Venezuela’s near 800 percent inflation. Last year, she stopped traveling and eating out. She has shopped at this market for more than 20 years but now, she says, many basic items are missing from the shelves — things like bread, rice, coffee and corn flour. And what is on the shelves is unaffordable.

“Food is so expensive,” Diaz says, as she pushes her cart. “I can’t buy heavy cream. I can’t even buy cereal or fruit.”

She checks out the onions, which cost 4,000 bolivars a…