Lines are swelling at Venezuelan supermarkets, with some shoppers showing up before dawn in search of products ranging from chicken to laundry detergent, as a holiday slowdown in deliveries sharpened the nation's nagging product shortages.
National Guards control access as people line up outside a state-run Bicentenario supermarket in Caracas. Business leaders have assured Venezuelans the
situation will improve in the coming days as distributors return from the often extended Christmas holidays, though many consumers blamed the socialist
economic policies of President Nicolas Maduro.
A woman stands with oil and detergent next to empty shelves inside a Makro supermarket in Caracas. "The truth is I don't know what the government is doing.
It gets worse every day," said Elizio Velez, 65, a delivery man who arrived at 5 a.m. at a large supermarket on the east end of Caracas in search of chicken and
toilet paper. "This is insane, it's like the end of the world," he said, noting that troops had fired shots in the air as scuffles broke out in the line.
People line up outside a state-run Bicentenario supermarket in Caracas. Venezuela's 12-year-old exchange control system has for several years struggled to
provide enough hard currency to ensure adequate levels of imports, leading to intermittent shortages of raw materials, machine parts and consumer goods.
People pick up groceries in a state-run supermarket in Caracas. President Nicolas Maduro, who blames the situation on an opposition-led "economic
war," said in December he was planning to make changes to that system, without offering details.
People line up outside a state-run Bicentenario supermarket in Caracas. Grocery store lines in the border city of San Cristobal this week have started as early as
3 a.m. and continued until 10 p.m., while consumers in the coastal city of Punto Fijo have started sleeping in hammocks outside the main shopping mall.
A woman pulls a cart with bags of rice outside Makro supermarket in Caracas. The supermarket industry association did not immediately respond to requests
for comment, although the group's president this week said supplies should normalise by the third week of the month.
National Guards control access as people line up outside a state-run Bicentenario supermarket in Caracas. Economists believe Maduro's economic reforms will
include a devaluation of the bolivar currency, which makes imported goods more expensive and has historically pushed the inflation rate higher.
Customers walk carrying oil among empty shelves inside a Makro supermarket in Caracas.
Consumer prices in Venezuela rose 64 percent in the 12 months to November.