Venezuela: How the Socialist Paradise Turned Into Debt and Hyperinflation Hell

A demonstrator protests with the national Venezuelan flag in front of Riot Police officrs during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s Government in Caracas on May 18

by Szu Ping Chan

They call them bachaqueros. Venezuela’s army of black market shoppers descend every day at dawn outside Caracas’s biggest stores.

Named after the bachaco leaf-cutting ant that carries several times its weight, the men and women queue alongside hundreds of other Venezuelans for food, nappies, milk and other basic goods.

They stand for hours in the blistering heat, motivated not by hunger, but profit.

Half-empty shelves in most shops means goods bought at government-controlled prices can be sold at a significant mark-up.

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