After winning the presidency in 1999, leftist President Hugo Chavez was proud of improving Venezuela‘s social indicators due to oil-fueled welfare policies. But his successor President Nicolas Maduro’s rule since 2013 has coincided with a deep recession, due to failed state-led economic policies and the plunge in global oil prices.
Wednesday’s study flagged Venezuelans’ deteriorating diets, which are deficient in vitamins and protein, as currency controls restrict food imports, hyperinflation eats into salaries, and people line up for hours to buy basics like flour.
“Income is being pulverized,” Maria Ponce, one of the study’s investigators, told a news conference at the Andres Bello Catholic University on Caracas’s outskirts.
“This disparity between the rise in prices and the population’s salaries is so generalized that there is practically not a single Venezuelan who is not poor,” she said.
The study calculated the poverty rate from 13 different indicators such as income and access to services. If the average of these indicators was above 25 percent, investigators defined
a person as poor.
Prices in Venezuela rose 4,068 percent in the 12 months to the end of January, according to estimates by the country’s opposition-led National Assembly, broadly in line with
independent economists’ figures.
The study showed that 87 percent of people in Venezuela, one of Latin America’s wealthiest nations back in the 1970s, were living in poverty last year, rising from 82 percent in 2016 and
48 percent in 2014.
The Venezuelan government has not released data on poverty since the first half of 2015 when the national statistics institute reported a poverty rate of 33 percent.
The government did not respond to a request for comments on the study, but its supporters often accuse academics of exaggerating data and being in league with the opposition.
Maduro blames the country’s problems on an economic war waged by the opposition and business leaders, with help from Washington.