GUARANTEES, Venezuela: Santa Claus walked the streets on the outskirts of Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, this weekend giving gifts to children ranging from bread to clothing at a time when the country is struggling with the country Coronavirus Pandemic and economic collapse.
Venezuelans celebrate Christmas in crisis again as the OPEC nation completes a sixth year of recession and a third of hyperinflation that has destroyed purchasing power and fueled mass migration.
The charitable group Santa in the Streets, which has been receiving clothing and toy donations for 14 years and giving them to families and children in poor areas of the country, distributed gifts in the suburb of Guarenas on Saturday.
A young man named Raymar, dressed as Santa Claus, approached a number of children who were waiting with their parents to receive bread and bologna, clothes, shoes and toys.
Amilcar Ruiz, local coordinator for Santa in the Streets, said the group had distributed more food this year due to community needs amid the pandemic. In recent years the group has brought more toys.
“(The community) said ‘let’s not go out,'” said Ruiz. “Families have (less capacity) to feed their children.”
Venezuela’s minimum monthly wage is a dollar, barely enough to buy a kilo of rice.
President Nicolas Maduro last year approved the widespread use of dollars for the first time in 15 years, boosting trade but also creating a growing gap between those who have access to greenbacks and those who manufacture the local bolivar currency .
“There is a pandemic, but people need a hug, a piece of bread,” added Juan Monroy, one of the organizers of the activity.