Five years ago, when Hugo Chávez was president and Venezuela was a much different place, Ana Margarita Rangel could still afford to go to the movies and the beach, or to buy the ingredients she needed to bake cakes. Even three years ago, when the country’s economy was beginning a severe contraction, Rangel earned enough for an occasional treat such as

soda or ice cream. Now she spends everything she earns to fend off hunger. Her shoes are tattered and torn, but she cannot afford new ones. A tube of toothpaste costs half a week’s wages. “I’ve always loved brushing my teeth before going to sleep. I mean, that’s the rule, right?” said Rangel, who lives in a hillside slum 25 miles west of Caracas, the capital, and works in a cosmetics factory down in the suburban city of Guarenas. READ MORE