Venezuela is a country in ruins.

In its third year of recession, the country's economy has been decimated by tanking oil prices, crushing inflation, and financial mismanagement by its government. Venezuelans face desperate shortages of food, water, and daily necessities like toilet paper and soap. Women are reportedly seeking voluntary sterilization surgery and people spend their days waiting outside drug and grocery stores for new inventory. Riots, muggings, mass lootings, and murders have all spiked.

(Fabiola Ferrero/El Estímulo)

All of this turmoil has plunged the country into an identity crisis, Venezuelan photographer Fabiola Ferrero told The Week.

"When you don't have anything to think about other than surviving, it makes it harder for you to create a national self, a concept of who you are as a society," she says. "All of your attention goes to 'I need to find food. I need to stay alive.'"

(Fabiola Ferrero)

Ferrero, who lives in Caracas, began capturing this nationwide angst in 2015 as a personal project when she wasn't covering the news for international press.

"It seems like Venezuelans don't really know who we are anymore," she says. "We just decided to accept misery as part of our fate."

This new reality is a far cry from the Venezuela Ferrero remembers. "We've always been known for being a very happy people," she says. "In fact, we've always been in lists of the happiest countries in the world." Now, there's no room for revelry. "If you go out on the streets at night, it's a desert," she says.

The Venezuelan spirit has been quieted.

"Everyone is sort of sad and thinking all the time," the photographer says. "It's like we're not there." Below, a look at Ferrero's haunted Venezuela.

(Fabiola Ferrero)

(Fabiola Ferrero)



(Fabiola Ferrero/El Estímulo)

(Fabiola Ferrero/El Estímulo)

(Fabiola Ferrero)

**To see more from Fabiola Ferrero, check out her website here.**