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Monthly Salary of $20 Shows Why Venezuelans Wait in Food Lines

An entire month's paycheck still isn't enough for a minimum-wage worker in Venezuela to feed a family
Shoppers get their hand marked with a number to save their place in line to enter a private-sector grocery store in Caracas, Venezuela, on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015.

Shoppers get their hand marked with a number to save their place in line to enter a private-sector grocery store in Caracas, Venezuela, on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015.

Photographer: Meridith Kohut/Bloomberg

Venezuela, the country known for long food lines and shortages of toilet paper and deodorant, can be a paradox at times.

Specialty food stores in Caracas are well stocked with delicacies including imported lamb chops, smoked salmon and caviar. For those with U.S. dollars, those luxuries are relatively cheap, too. Yet most Venezuelans can't afford the greenback. Residents depend on local salaries paid in bolivars, the national currency which has declined 97 percent in the past three years. At the current black market exchange rate, 100 bolivars, the country's biggest bill, is only worth 36 U.S. cents.