Sporadic US Food Shortages Trigger Worries in Venezuelan Immigrants About Country’s Direction

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When Venezuelan immigrants in the United States see items missing from store shelves, they worry about the direction of the United States and remember the empty shelves in their home country as it fell into socialism.

Once the richest country in South America, today many in Venezuela are impoverished and many are leaving to survive. But it wasn’t always like that. Patricia Andrade of Miami, Florida is founder of Venezuela Awareness, a non-profit organization that helps Venezuelans arriving in the United States get started with basic needs. She came to the United States about 35 years ago. At the time, elections were free, and it was a normal country, Andrade told The Epoch Times.

“We would go to the supermarket and find everything we wanted,” she said. But in 2013-2014, the economy collapsed, and things changed drastically

“They began to find, in Venezuela, the shelves were empty. They would go to a store and part of the store was empty,” Andrade said. “If you try to find basic things, you can’t find it. It was not only one product; it was many products. For example, you couldn’t find cereal, milk, ketchup—basic things. Toothpaste, soap, deodorant—I remember my son said they were afraid to go out without deodorant. Shampoo, oil for cooking, I remember sugar—a lot of times you couldn’t find sugar at the supermarket.”

She said it happened suddenly, not little by little. And for those who have seen food security disappear from a country, shortages in the United States, such as baby formula, are worrisome. Lately, her grocery store has been limiting the amount of cream cheese customers may buy, and sometimes they sell out. She notices sparse clothing racks at department stores, smaller shoe selections, more shelf space between products at the arts and crafts store.

It is especially discouraging, she said, for people just arriving from Venezuela, who fear the problems they fled are creeping into the United States.

“People are worried. They say they believe socialism destroyed Venezuela, that we are at the beginning of socialism in the United States, and we are going to repeat this story in the United States.”

By Beth Brelje

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