Venezuela is a nation in crisis – a place where a troubled economy has triggered a wave of emigration, and where the government is regularly accused of corruption, rights violations and efforts to intimidate the media. Despite the challenging environment for journalists, we’ve recently broken some big stories about Venezuela here at AP, including people finding ways to get water for their homes, or buying spoiled meat to feed their families. I’m happy to talk about the experience of covering Venezuela, the challenges we face here and how we’ve overcome them. Or, really, anything else about news from Venezuela.

Here’s some of our recent journalism from Venezuela:

As electricity fails, desperate Venezuelans buy spoiled meat:

Mounting economic chaos leaves many Venezuelans in the dark:

Venezuela's wealthy beat water crisis drilling private wells:

Venezuelans scour polluted river for lost treasure, survival:

And here's my proof:

This AMA is part of r/IAmA’s “Spotlight on Journalism” project, which aims to shine a light on the state of journalism and press freedom in 2018. Come back for new AMAs every day in October.

UPDATE: Time for me to sign off. Thanks for asking so many great questions! If you want to see more from AP on Venezuela, follow our coverage here:

Comments: 487 • Responses: 18  • Date: 

Lintar062 karma

What is the opinion of the average Venezuelan on the street about Nicolas Maduro, considering the circumstances? Would you say that support for him has decreased a lot compared to say, 5 years ago? Are there rumours/plans of people wanting to overthrow him?

APnews79 karma

Polling shows that President Maduro is unpopular, and many people I meet vent frustration at the government because of their daily struggles. At the same time, my reporting has taken me to neighborhoods of Caracas where people maintain their loyalty, blaming international forces for their poor quality of life.

Chuckbrick11 karma

What do your Venezuelan colleagues believe?

APnews36 karma

I can't speak for my colleagues, but I can represent that many people I meet and interact with are frustrated and tired of the living conditions. Many have left the country in recent years because they cannot get basic medicine they need or they can't earn a living to support their families. They go abroad to send money home, and those staying behind rely on this income.

JTC8027 karma

Hi Eric, I’m the r/IAmA mod who put this journalism project together. I have a question. I tried to get several Venezuelan newspapers to do an AMA and none of them got back to me after months of reachout. Do you think this is because the papers themselves have been shut down, or because the editors and journalists (understandably) fear the repercussions of speaking freely on a platform like Reddit?

APnews45 karma

Journalists here say they work under great pressure. They fear being jailed, sued and several have left the country in fear for their personal safety. The pro-government assembly last year passed a law that carries up to 20 years in prison for publishing material deemed hateful. Others say their online work is blocked from public view, and they blame government censors.

APnews38 karma

Also, some newspapers have been bought by powerful people associated with or in the government.

Clemen1124 karma

How did this situation start?

What are the day to day hardships people face?

How do people try to keep themselves happy in this situation?

APnews53 karma

Venezuela’s crisis is years in the making, and of course it depends who you ask. People opposed to the current government blame nearly 20 years of socialist rule started by the late-President Hugo Chavez and now President Nicolas Maduro. The government, by contrast, blames imperialist powers, starting with the United States for an economic war against Venezuela.

APnews43 karma

Most people here struggle day-to-day to find the basics like food and medicine. Catching a bus to get around town is time-consuming and expensive for most people who earn the minimum wage, which equals a few dollars a month. The struggles are real.

Clemen119 karma

It is so sad to know that's the condition people are living in.

What do you think has changed the most since the crisis started, at a social level?

Thank you for answering

APnews27 karma

I think that people feel powerless to change anything, so they're leaving the country. Last year, thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets in daily protests that left more than 120 people dead in conflict with government forces. Nothing changed. The government remains firmly in place under President Maduro. The presidential election in May revealed that people don't see a way out of this crisis, and they didn't vote, either in protest or a sense of being powerless.

Chuckbrick6 karma

Has your journalistic prowess led you to a conclusion? Which side is correct?

APnews12 karma

Many people point to corruption as a major downfall in Venezuela. We've reported on the many arrests of former officials and people connected with Venezuela's state-run oil company, PDVSA. Investigators seized vast property holdings. U.S. authorities also point to corruption by high ranking officials while sanctioning people the government.

scott_nielson14 karma

What precautions would you recommend taking for an American considering visiting Venezuela? I am fluent in Spanish and have visited about half of the countries in Latin America, including Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and El Salvador. However, I have not visited Venezuela yet because it seems too dangerous.

APnews33 karma

Venezuela is a challenging place to visit now without a support network. This is unfortunate because there are many amazing things to see - beautiful islands, amazing beaches, the Andes, waterfalls and more. But simple things like getting cash are a real challenge. Transportation can also be hard. Because of the instability, you really need to know whose car you’re getting into.

APnews24 karma

As a U.S. journalist, I work very closely with my colleagues who are Venezuelan and have lived and worked here for many years. I've been reporting in Venezuela for a year now, and I have no had any security problems. But I am careful.

CHarleq10 karma

A few months ago I read that the VZ government raised the national min wage to many times what it was. I never heard a follow up; How did that turn out? What is the average wage (hourly or daily) for a recent high school graduate?

APnews21 karma

Yes, the government dramatically raised the minimum wage, from the equivalent of $1-2 a month to the equivalent of $30. But as inflation continues surging without any success at turning around the underlying economic problems, the minimum wage is devoured and shrinks daily. I estimate that today the monthly minimum wage is roughly equal to $12, just a couple months after the adjustment, so you see how it is losing value.

APnews6 karma

Good morning, Reddit! I see lots of great questions.

APnews5 karma

Let's start from the top here.

orangejulius5 karma

What would the "right" way be for Venezuela to get their economy back on track?

APnews11 karma

Many people I talk with say Venezuela's solution is political. The Maduro government has drawn criticism from many leaders in the international community for maintaining power through undemocratic practices and holding a presidential election that banned opposition groups, many jailed and living in exile out of fear for their safety. International groups say that once democracy is restored, they will resume diplomatic and economic relations with Venezuela.

arpit_2794 karma

What's something you saw in Venezuela that you would never forget for the rest of your life?

APnews23 karma

The poverty is striking. It is common to see people picking through and eating from piles of garbage on the street.

APnews17 karma

On another level, inflation is soaring and hard to imagine without living here. Until recently $1 was equal to several million bolivars, the local currency. Then, the government began issuing new money, lopping off five zeros. Despite this move inflation continues to rise. The International Monetary Fund recently predicted that this year inflation would top 1 million percent.

Batou20342 karma


APnews25 karma

Bitcoin has not taken off. Interestingly, the government has announced it is creating its own cryptocurrency called the petro. It is surrounded by a lot of confusion and I don't know of anybody who has been able to find a way of purchasing a petro, despite the government saying it is available.

APnews20 karma

So, no, neither the bitcoin nor the petro have taken off. Many people save money with U.S. dollars, which hold their value compared to the local currency, the bolivar.