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How Much Do You Really Know About What’s Happening In Venezuela?

Maybe you've seen the headlines, but do you actually know what's going on there?

Posted on July 22, 2016, at 6:00 a.m. ET

Though once the strongest economy in Latin America, Venezuela has been hard hit over the last few years by low oil prices, triple-digit inflation, and political upheaval — all leading to shortages of food, medicine, and household goods.

George Castellanos / AFP / Getty Images

Since the beginning of the crisis, Venezuelans inside and outside the country have been using the hashtag #SOSVenezuela in an attempt to raise awareness about what is going on there. The hashtag includes links to articles, photos, and general messages to the outside world.

This situation in Venezuela became worse when successive governments placed price controls on basic goods, capping the prices of coffee, rice, and flour, leading some underpaid producers to refuse to provide goods for government-run supermarkets. This subsequently drove up black market prices, or in many cases, led to a halt in production of certain items.

Outside the supermarkets, a combination of high prices and Venezuela's complicated exchange rate drove the country's inflation rate to a peak of 180% in May.

As daily riots, widespread hunger, and rampant crime continue, how much do you actually know about the ongoing crisis in Venezuela?

  1. Joe Raedle / Getty


    A spokesperson for PLAFAM, a Venezuela-based sexual and reproductive health advocacy group, reported in May that pharmacies are selling three packs of condoms for anything up to the equivalent of $169 USD. On the black market, this price can triple.

    Via Thomas Trutschel / Getty
  2. Bethany Clarke / Stringer / Getty

    To ask for and advertise medical supplies.

    A shortage of medicine and sanitary products has led to people turning to Twitter to plead for medicine, and sometimes offer it at hugely inflated black market prices.

    Via Twitter: @search

    Mr. World

    The Miss Venezuela Organization announced last week that it would not be sending Mr. Venezuela, Renato Barabino, to the Mr. World competition due to issues with the complex process people must go through when exchanging Venezuelan bolivars for foreign currency as well as funding issues. Exchanging money officially is so difficult in Venezuela right now that most do it through black-market payments.

    Via Instagram: @renatobarabino

    One month

    According to Vice News the bags, which are distributed by neighborhood committees in an attempt to control food shortages and the resulting panic, are supposed to last a household around a month. Bag prices start at 2,300 bolivars, half a week's minimum-wage pay. The contents of bags can vary, but many complain it is never enough.

    Via John Moore/ Getty
  5. Why did this photo go viral last year?

    Because napkins had become so expensive.

    Last year a Reddit user uploaded an image of an empanada wrapped in a bank note to show how worthless money had become due to inflation. Many others at the time complained that the price of a pack of napkins was greater than the daily minimum wage.

  6. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade

    Over a third.

    A photo shared to Twitter in June showed a kilogram bag of lentils being sold for 6,467 bolivars — over a third of the country's monthly minimum wage of 15,051 bolivars.

    Via Twitter: @JohnArterbury
  7. REUTERS/Stringer


    The Venezuelan Observatory of Violence estimates that 27,875 people died in 2015 due to violent crime. That's 90 deaths per 100,000 of the population. The group said that one of the contributing factors was the country's economic instability.

    Via George Castellanos / AFP / Getty Images
  8. What are these photos of?

    Juan Barreto / Ronaldo Schemid / George Castellanos / Federico Parra / AFP / Getty Images

    People queuing for the supermarket.

    Supermarket stocks are so low that people can queue for a day for basic supplies, often coming away empty-handed. Some people are reported to have quit their jobs to have more time to queue for food. The queues often break into violence and looting.

    Via George Castellanos / AFP / Getty Images
  9. Federico Parra / AFP / Getty Images


    In May, the company suspended all production due to sugar shortages. Other companies, such as PepsiCo, Ford, and Procter & Gamble, have all either deconsolidated or written off their investments in the country.

    Via Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.