CARACAS: A pregnant 18-year-old Venezuelan woman was fatally shot in the head early Sunday in Caracas as she waited in line at a National Guard outpost to buy ham for her New Year’s meal, relatives said.
Alexandra Conopio, who was five months pregnant, was shot as she and other residents of the Antimano neighborhood in the west of the capital waited to buy ham at subsidized prices, her stepfather told AFP.
“We had been waiting since 9 o’clock Saturday night, just chatting with each other, and at 3 am, some drunken guardsmen came and told us to leave,” said the stepfather, Alexander Cisnero.
The group of residents refused to leave and after some discussion with the uniformed guardsmen, two of them opened fire, Cisnero charged.
A 20-year-old man identified as Luis Medina suffered a hip wound in the incident, but he was expected to survive.
The suspected shooter was detained, according to a police report seen by AFP.
Pork products have been in short supply during the holiday season in crisis-hit Venezuela, sparking multiple protests over the past week in Caracas and other cities.
Falling oil prices, political unrest, and corruption have decimated the country’s economy under President Nicolas Maduro, leading to chronic food and medicine shortages.
The International Monetary Fund forecasts that inflation will exceed 2,300 percent in 2018 in a country that was once one of the wealthiest in Latin America.
On Sunday, Maduro announced a 40 percent increase in the minimum wage -- but most Venezuelans will still only earn about $7 a month in salary and food tickets, based on the commonly used black market exchange rate.
That would only pay for a little more than two kilos (4.5 pounds) of ham.
When it’s available, subsidized meat sells for 30 times less. -AFP