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Once prosperous, more than 75 pct Venezuelans now living in extreme poverty: Survey

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Around three-fourths of Venezuelans now live in extreme poverty as the once-prosperous OPEC nation’s hyperinflationary economic collapse continued for a seventh straight year, according to a study published on Wednesday.

The 2020-2021 National Survey of Living Conditions (ENCOVI), conducted by researchers at Andres Bello Catholic University (UCAB), found that of the country’s 28 million residents, 76.6 percent live in extreme poverty, up from 67.7 percent last year.

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The report attributed the rise to both the COVID-19 pandemic and chronic fuel shortages, which at least 20 percent of respondents said meant they could not put gasoline in their cars, a major obstacle to employment.

Asylum-seeking migrants' families from Venezuela wait to be transported by the U.S. Border Patrol's van after crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico in Del Rio, Texas, US, May 26, 2021. (Reuters)
Asylum-seeking migrants' families from Venezuela wait to be transported by the U.S. Border Patrol's van after crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico in Del Rio, Texas, US, May 26, 2021. (Reuters)



The ENCOVI study was created in 2014 to make up for the absence of official data, according to Pedro Luis Espana, a UCAB sociologist who contributed to the study.

Espana said that beyond the loss of purchasing power, the lack of employment has led to boredom, adding that Venezuela’s public sector pays poorly, as the country’s minimum wage hovers around $3 a month, and the country’s private sector is small.

“It is the absence of opportunities,” Espana said. “It is sitting in front of the door of the house, doing nothing, not because you do not want to do anything, but because there is nowhere to do it.”

Venezuela’s information ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the findings.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks to the media after voting in the ruling Socialist Party primaries for the November regional elections for governors and mayors, in Caracas, Venezuela August 8, 2021. (Reuters/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria)
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks to the media after voting in the ruling Socialist Party primaries for the November regional elections for governors and mayors, in Caracas, Venezuela August 8, 2021. (Reuters/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria)



President Nicolas Maduro’s government frequently blames US sanctions for the country’s woes, but critics attribute the country’s crisis to his government’s economic mismanagement.

When measured solely by income levels, 94.5 percent of the population lives in poverty, a figure unmatched elsewhere in the region, the ENCOVI survey found.

The survey was conducted through questionnaires distributed to 14,000 households in 21 of the 23 states of the country between February and April.

Read more: US to give $336 million in aid to Venezuelans: State Department