Venezuela's super-rich are enjoying lavish parties and gourmet cuisine, while middle-class people are forced to scavenge for food as the Socialist country's economy collapses.Más...
In the opulent Caracas Country Club, where membership costs an astonishing £77,000 – 458 times the average Venezuelan salary – glamorous women in cocktail dresses were seen relishing a banquet of beef and lobster, followed by a colourful selection of puddings.
Meanwhile, in the Petare slum a few miles away, home to 370,000 Venezuelans, ordinary middle-class people were rummaging in stinking piles of rubbish for rotten cabbage leaves, desiccated limes and scraps of fetid meat.
'Those rich people are thieves. They are government cronies and they stole the country's money,' said Vanessa, 36, who earns £14 a month as an analyst at an electrics company.
'They don't want anything to change, or they would lose their high lifestyle.
'Chávez pretended to be this big Socialist, but he was rich himself. He was a hypocrite. He was a f*****g liar. His legacy is people like me looking for food in the garbage.'
For 20 years, Venezuela's economy was gradually destroyed by 'Chavismo', an authoritarian form of Socialism that wrecked the private sector with mass nationalisation and regulation. Prices were controlled by the government – often set below the cost of production – and it was illegal to give employees the sack. Petrol was given away for 25p a gallon, and poor people were given free food and healthcare. Billions disappeared from the economy due to cronyism, with Transparency International naming Venezuela one of the most corrupt countries in the world.