With 34 years old, I’ve lived half of my life under the same government. One early morning in 1992, my mother didn't wake me up for elementary school. I arose hours later to empty streets, confused people and my parents didn’t have any answers. That day I heard Chavez’s name for the first time; I was ten years old. He was in TV, with his signature red hat, as the military leader of a failed coup against the former president Carlos Andres Perez. Seven years later, in 1999, he became President by an overwhelming majority of votes and the country began its transition into “XXI Century Socialism.”
The radicalization of this new model coupled with decreasing oil prices, plummeted the country into an economic, politic and social crisis that knocked on every Venezuelan’s door. Gradually, in this Orwellian dystopia, Venezuela became a circus in which the audience is affected of the political battle between two very different ideologies.
Following the death of former president Hugo Chavez in 2013, Nicolas Maduro, his successor and close political ally took control of the government after a popular election. President Maduro is not as charismatic or popular as the former president; he now relies on the use of Chavez propaganda to keep the revolution alive.
Food shortages have become commonplace because of hampered local production. I can’t remember my family lining up in queues to access essential goods such as milk, rice, toothpaste, feminine hygiene, beans, cooking oil, and toilet paper, five years ago. If you needed basic goods you could find them in any supermarket. Now, basic goods are regulated: depending on your ID number you can buy one or two pieces of the same product per week, if you find them at all.
These images are part of my long-term project “Venezuela’s No Bread and Circus” which started at the very end of 2014, when I decided to become a photojournalist. I started to document the Venezuelan spirit struggle by the frustrations and rage that come with living in a country where food, medicines and basic services (water, gas and electricity) are not affordable for a big part of the population while the circus recreated by the government and opposition forces in the streets with continuous political rallies, free concerts and propaganda as a common practice to keep people away of their common problems. This time that I’ve been developing my project has made me experience in first hand the human part of the crisis with each subject and situation I’ve been photographing. We are looking for a change, no matter the political ideology, this crisis is affecting our present and our future. And the hope for a better life and country is alive.“Everything now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: Bread and circuses. ” — Juvenal, in The Satires, 1st Century AD, describing the last days of the Roman Empire