Venezuela’s former Vice President turned Minister of Education Elías Jaua claimed in remarks this weekend that the country’s depleted supermarkets would be full of food if people did not eat so much.
In a televised speech, Jaua said that, although Venezuela’s malnutrition crisis was a “timely issue,” it had “not at all affected people’s fundamental right to access food.”
“A growing demand and possibilities to acquire food by the Venezuelan people are what has presented a great challenge for our country to produce more and more food every day,” he said. “If the Venezuelan people did not eat, surely the shelves would be full.”
“Thank God there is a Bolivarian Revolution and our people have a right to eat meat, chicken, milk, that they did not have ten, 14 years ago,” he alleged.
— Miguel Angel Santos (@miguelsantos12) March 30, 2018
Jaua’s comments are among a vast number of such statements from the regime of dictator Nicolás Maduro, currently presiding over the worst political, economic, and humanitarian crisis in the country’s history.
Amid a total collapse in the value of the bolivar currency, millions of Venezuelans are now suffering from the effects of malnutrition due to the scarcity and unaffordability of most food products. Supermarkets, many of which are owned by the government, have mostly empty shelves as even suppliers fail to afford the import costs from abroad.
According to the annual Venezuelan Living Standards survey published in February, around 60 percent of people said they woke up in the morning hungry due to lack of food, while the average Venezuelan lost 11kg (24lbs) in weight. 90 percent now live in poverty.
A recent survey conducted by three leading Venezuelan universities also found that roughly 2.9 million children are regularly missing school due to lack of nutrition or other problems such as lack of water, transport, or electricity.
The Maduro regime has repeatedly denied the existence of starvation across the country. Last year, former foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez asserted, “There is no hunger in Venezuela. There is only will. There is no humanitarian crisis in Venezuela … only love.”
One solution the government proposed was the introduction of rabbit farming. The country’s Minister of Urban Agriculture Freddy Bernal called on Maduro to launch a campaign to change people’s attitudes towards rabbits, where instead of seeing them as pets, they view them as “two and a half kilos of consumable meat.”