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In Socialist Paradise, Children Beg Santa For Food – Not Toys – by Robert Gehl

In Venezuela, they’re feeling the Bern.

The Socialist Workers Paradise has fallen so far down the hole of misery and poverty, there are no Christmas decorations.

No carolers on the streets, no shoppers at busy stores.

Just hungry people digging through garbage cans.

It’s so bad in Venezuela – which once boasted one of the strongest economies in Latin America – that a man dressed up as Santa doesn’t get requests from kids. They beg for food.

It’s a tradition that goes back 12 years. Called “Santa in the Streets,” volunteers would dress up as Santa and deliver gifts before Christmas to the poorest residents of Caracas and around the country.

But now the “poorest” is everyone. AFP reports on the depressing scene:

In a Caracas with no Christmas lights or decorations this year because of the economic crisis, Santa and his helpers handed out food, medicine, clothing and toys to children, older people and the homeless.

The presents were a sign of the times: Venezuelans are enduring acute shortages of food and medicine, and inflation is forecast by the IMF to hit a staggering 2,349 percent in 2018.

“We bring happiness to many people who in this situation are deeply sad and desperate. We bring them a little bit of happiness,” said Francisco Ordaz, who has worked with the program for four years.

Ordaz volunteers at a church parking lot under a large canopy making ham and cheese sandwiches or sorting clothes. Nearby, men dressed as Santa led caravans of cars into the city to hand out food and presents.

“That Santa was hit by the crisis. Hey, Santa, are you doing the Maduro diet?” people shouted in the poor downtown area of La Pastora upon seeing a young man in the back of a truck.

They were using a popular expression used to refer to President Nicolas Maduro and people who have lost weight because of the hard economic times. This is so common it has been documented by Venezuelan universities.

Once, Maduro himself tried to use the expression jokingly on TV and drew scathing criticism.

On the street, most ignored the shouts of “Merry Christmas” from the Santas, but some returned the greeting. One elderly lady walked up to Santa, shouting “Give us food!” Children greeted the Caravan Santas – most of them asking for food rather than toys.

Venezuela has fallen. It is a failed state thanks to the socialist policies started by Hugo Chavez and seen to its disastrous end by his successor Nicolas Maduro.

The “Santa in the Streets” program “aims to join forces and take support to vulnerable people, whether they are in a community, a shelter, a nursing home or out in the streets,” said Carlos Deveer, its founder.

Twelve years ago he and three friends got together to distribute food and clothes before Christmas. Today the program boasts more than 1,300 volunteers.

Rodriguez, the man in the wheel chair, thanked his benefactors.

“May God bless you and give you health,” he said, holding a sandwich and a soft drink.