By Karla S. Arismendi
Venezuelans living in the poor sections of Caracas had new beef with the government this year: a shortage of the traditional pork leg for their holiday meals.
In the past, the government’s Local Committee for Supply and Production (CLAP) has included pork leg in the boxes of food it distributes to poor citizens at Christmas and New Years. The boxes, which contain rations of basic necessities, typically include rice, beans, sugar and powder milk, with a few canned products.
When the seasonal pork leg, or pernil, treat was not added to the box this year, some Venezuelans took to the streets.
Venezuela President Nocolas Maduro has an excuse for the pork shortage; he blames Portugal and the United States for “sabotaging” the ships that were supposed to deliver the holiday provisions. In response, Portugal claims that Venezuela owes its pork suppliers more than $40 million dollars. Suppliers were awaiting an installment payment on the debt and when it didn’t arrive, they refused to make another shipment.
The no-pork protests turned deadly on New Year’s Eve when an 18-year-old pregnant woman was killed when she tried to enter a military post in the Antimano sector of Caracas. Another protester was injured in the incident.
The CLAP supply boxes are a growing source of contention between poor Venezuelans and the government, as food provisions have been reduced in recent months.
The minimum monthly wage for Venezuelans is 450,000 bolivares, or about $134 according to the government, but only $4.50 on the black market, which economists say is a more accurate valuation of the currency. This means that it would require an entire month’s wage to buy one kilo of pork.