By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS – Some 87% of Venezuelans are now poor, from only 48% in 2014, according to a study taken by Venezuela’s three largest universities and published on Wednesday.
And the findings are harrowing. Year on year, total poverty went from 81.8% last year to 87% now.
Some 60% of Venezuelans claimed to have lost around 11 kilograms of bodyweight over the last 12 months due to economic hardship. Last year, ENCOVI determined that each polled person had lost some eight kilos for the same reason, an ongoing, worsening phenomenon locals have dubbed “The Maduro Diet.”
“And it is possible that for 2018 the situation is even worse,” researcher Marino Gonzalez said in presenting the findings, citing hyperinflation as the main reason for the trend to continue.
The inquiry studied more than 6,100 Venezuelan homes. Poverty, one way or the other, “has reached all of the homes” in the nation possessing the largest oil reserves known to man but suffering under hyperinflation since October of last year, the ENCOVI study says.
About 56% of all poverty is “recent poverty,” meaning after 2014, the first year of the ENCOVI study. Embattled Venezuelan head of state Nicolas Maduro took over in 2013.
More than half of Venezuelans, 51.6% were “non poor” in 2014, according to the living conditions poll ENCOVI, a joint study by Universidad Central de Venezuela, Universidad Catolica Andres Bello and Universidad Simon Bolivar. Nowadays, the “non poor” are 13%, with the remaining 87% being either “poor” or “extremely poor.”
Venezuela’s Gross Domestic Product has lost more than one third also over the last four years, an economic decline bigger than that of the United States during the Great Depression, Mexican Historian Enrique Krauze wrote this week in the New York Times.
To February 2018, there are now more Venezuelans classified as “extreme poor,” 61.2% of the population, than “non poor” (13%) or just “poor” (25.8%).
And a large chunk of the poor is not receiving any assistance: Some 13.4 million Venezuelans now receive alimentary assistance of some sort in this country of 31 million, where only 6.7 million Venezuelans were in that situation in 2016, according to ENCOVI.
Assistance is spotty, with 69% of all homes nationwide saying they have never received the CLAP box of subsidized food, and 18% receiving it once a month, except in the capital city of Caracas, home to 20% of the Venezuelan population, where 62% of low-income homes says to be getting it once a month.