Venezuela has long been in chaos. The South American country is plagued by a disastrous, multi-year recession and political instability, mismanagement, and corruption. There isn't enough bread, so the government has arrested bakers. There isn't enough food, so the military is trafficking limited supplies for personal profit. Pets are starving, as their owners can no longer spare them food, and, as The New York Times reported in a lengthy story Sunday, children are starving to death, too.
Times reporters conducted a five-month investigation, interviewing medical staff at hospitals across Venezuela. The doctors they spoke with reported a heart-rending increase in malnutrition cases among their youngest patients:
Parents ... go days without eating, shriveling to the weight of children themselves. Women line up at sterilization clinics to avoid having children they can't feed. Young boys leave home and join street gangs to scavenge for scraps, their bodies bearing the scars of knife fights with competitors. Crowds of adults storm dumpsters after restaurants close. Babies die because it is hard to find or afford infant formula, even in emergency rooms. [The New York Times]
Statistical information about the scale of the malnutrition crisis is difficult to find, as the Venezuelan government has attempted to suppress such damaging data. One 2015 report from the Venezuelan Ministry of Health offers a grim hint: It said the mortality rate for children younger than four weeks increased by 100 percent — from 0.02 percent to just over 2 percent — between 2012 and 2015.