Venezuela faces dim lights


December 27, 2017
AP A mother with her son eat a free meal at a soup kitchen sponsored by the opposition in Caracas, Venezuela.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP):

Marilyn Pitre recalls taking her family on evening strolls at Christmastime through Altamira Plaza in Venezuela's capital, Caracas soaking up the dazzling lights and giant tree made of light bulbs in a display that once drew comparisons to New York City's Rockefeller Center.

That was before crisis struck Venezuela. Now, the 40-year-old mother of two wouldn't dare set foot in the plaza after dark, fearing robbers. And this season, for the first time in years, no festive lights will bring it to life.

It's a sight that many say mirrors the mood in the once-prosperous oil nation. Middle-class residents have cut back on gifts and struggle to afford basic ingredients needed to cook traditional Christmas dishes.

The poor have been hit hardest, some scavenging trash piles year-around to fill their stomachs.