The Corner

One Country’s Agony

Earlier this week, I read one of the most arresting reports I have read in a long while. It was datelined Caracas. I will give you the first four paragraphs:

The people waiting for hours in front of the drugstore were dazed with heat and boredom when the gunmen arrived.

The robbers demanded a cellphone from a 25-year-old in black shorts. Instead of handing it over, Junior Perez took off toward the entrance to the pharmacy. Eight shots rang out, and he fell face down.

The dozens of shoppers in line were unmoved. They held their places as the gunmen went through Perez’s pockets. They watched as thick ribbons of blood ran from the young man’s head into the grooves of the tiled walkway. And when their turns came, each bought the two tubes of rationed toothpaste they were allowed.

“These days, you have to put the line above everything,” said pharmacist Haide Mendoza, who was there that morning. “You make sure you get what you need, and you don’t feel sorry for anyone.”

That report was written by Hannah Dreier, the Venezuela correspondent of the Associated Press. She is my guest on the latest Q&A podcast.

There is much to follow in the news today: ISIS, for one thing; Trump vs. Hillary, for another. And, most recently, the coup in Turkey. But Venezuela is a big and shocking story. This was a very successful state. Now it is a failing state, where hunger, robbery, and murder are routine.

In our podcast, Dreier relates many interesting facts. One is this: It’s mango season in Venezuela now. So hungry people are climbing trees in an effort to get them. Some are dying as a result.

Needless to say, the world is large, and you can’t follow everything or care about everything. That would be unnatural, not to mention impossible. But what Hannah Dreier has to say about Venezuela is fascinating, if appalling at the same time.

Again, the podcast is here.

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