Venezuela's Lack Of Food And Medicine Is Outrageous, Professor Says
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
Venezuela is in a deep economic crisis, some say the worst in its history. What once made Venezuela rich is now making it poor. And that is oil. We reached political science professor Miguel Martinez Meucci in Venezuela's capital, Caracas. He spoke to us via Skype about the economic and social crisis there.
MIGUEL MARTINEZ MEUCCI: The lack of food and medicines is outrageous really. And while insecurity is also a big, big problem, it is not possible to know exactly how many guns we have in the streets. But some specialists are talking about 10 million guns in the streets. So if you don't have food and medicines and instead you have many guns in the streets, you can imagine this vision is not good.
WERTHEIMER: When you go out, what do you typically see? Or do you talk to your colleagues or your students about what kinds of problems they're having?
MARTINEZ MEUCCI: Well, yes. We are trying to explain many things about the situation, how the situation came to us. I would say that the main responsibility is of the government. Unfortunately, we have a political program during all of these years - 17 years right now - that is taking us back. We are not being able to develop as a society.
WERTHEIMER: The social fabric is being strained by what is going on.
MARTINEZ MEUCCI: Exactly. Yeah. Because in a normal country, you can buy things. You can go from a place to another. You can open a company. You can make many things. But right now, every normal thing here in Venezuela is becoming more and more difficult.
WERTHEIMER: I wonder about your own personal life. Say, for example, in the last few days, where have you felt this economic crisis touch you?
MARTINEZ MEUCCI: Well, for example, our salary - I'm associate professor. My current salary, I cannot buy a tuna can a day. The people that still can eat in a semi-normal way is because they have savings. Or they are selling their car. Or they are trying to emigrate to other countries. And poor people is living a real tragedy.
WERTHEIMER: Now, how much of this whole economic disaster do you think is related to the falling price of oil? How much to mismanagement by the government?
MARTINEZ MEUCCI: Well, we say that we don't have good or bad governments, but high or low oil prices. But we cannot explain this situation only by low prices. There is, for sure, a huge mismanagement of the national economy because you have many other oil countries in the Middle East and Norway. They live, also, by the oil prices. But they are not living such a situation as we have. So what I am afraid of is that the purpose is to control the population. They could be able to overthrow the government or to change the government. So this is a very dangerous situation.
WERTHEIMER: Miguel Martinez Meucci - he is a professor of political science at the Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, Venezuela. Thank you very much for sharing with us.
MARTINEZ MEUCCI: Thank you very much to you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.