For a time the “Saudi Arabia” of South America, today Venezuela is more similar to Syria. A country that has been economically destroyed and is socially unstable fighting an ever more alarming spectre: hunger. In the slum of Petare – as in a large part of the outskirts of Caracas – the refrigerators remain empty for days, the queues grow longer at the supermarkets, and the necessity of procuring something to eat drives young people to violence. Many come together in armed gangs, plunder houses and shops, rob food from simple passers-by along the roads, and are paid in foodstuffs. Inflation has reached unsustainable levels and this has led prices of products to double week after week: today, nine out of ten Venezuelans (source: Encovi) do not feel they have the sufficient economic resources to buy food. Naturally, for some time now the government has been trying to remedy this through the CLAP plan, which sees the distribution of free boxes of food. But this does not seem to be enough, and for the first time in the history of Venezuela the crime of hunger has appeared in the classification of the greatest danger to national security.

A woman stares at her empty fridge at her house in Petare. For many families, even the most basic items such as tomatoes or beans are out of reach: according to ENCOVI, 80% of homes in Venezuela are food insecure.

A woman cries during the funeral of her husband, Keiber Cubero, 25 years old. Father of a little girl and struggling to find food, Keiber went with two other friends to rob a restaurant during the night. They were caught and killed by police officers while fleeing the scene.

Prisoners begging for food and water in their cells in a police station. Many of them said they had regular jobs but turned to crime because of the economic crisis and the impossibility of bringing food home.

Roxana Gutierrez, 19 years old, looks after her son. While she and her husband Carlos, 20 years old, had steady jobs, it became harder for them to find food, which in turn pushed Carlos to begin stealing motorcycles. He is now serving a prison sentence, and she is pregnant with their second child.

- In Venezuela hunger is forcing more and more people to get food through violence.

- By the end of 2018, inflation will have risen up to the record of one million per cent.

- 89.4 per cent of Venezuelans (source: Encovi) do not have the economic resources to buy food.

- The country is one of the most violent in the world: every day 73 Venezuelans are murdered.

- The Maduro government is distributing free boxes of food, but this plan (CLAP) has not proven to be enough to solve the crisis.

Men unload CLAP boxes in Petare. The CLAP box contains basic food supplies and is one of the measures of the socialist government to fight the "economic war". About 87% of households now receive CLAP's subsidized food, yet it is never clear when the next cargo of boxes will arrive. It has been highly criticized by the opposition as a tool for ensuring the votes of the poorest members of society.

Mayra Castro, 37 years old, prepares food in her improvised home in Petare, Caracas. Her youngest daughter died of hunger when she was only 1 year old. "When I took her to the hospital the doctor said I should give her chicken or meat but how am I supposed to afford chicken?" she said

click to view the complete set of images in the archive