CARACAS, Venezuela – Like most Venezuelans, 16-year-old Madeley Vasquez lives life in line.
She breast feeds her 1-year-old son Joangel as she waits outside a supermarket for the chance to buy food. The boy is more focused on experimenting with early, tentative steps while his mother waits to buy her two bags of rice and two packets of toilet paper.
Vasquez's mother, Sorena, quit her job cleaning houses so she could spend more time with her daughter and grandson as they wait to buy food. The family can spend at least eight hours for the chance to buy one box of goods.
The longest lines in the South American country are to buy food, with nine out of 10 Venezuelans saying they can't buy enough to eat as scarcity drives up prices, according to a study by Simon Bolivar University.
The average Venezuelan shopper spends 35 hours waiting to buy subsidized goods each month. That's three times more than in 2014, the polling firm Datanalisis says.
As Venezuela's lines grow longer, they also grow more dangerous. More than two dozen people were killed in line in the past 12 months, including a 4-year-old girl caught in gang crossfire. Vasquez once had to run down the block to avoid getting caught up in a knife fight that broke out when a woman was accused of cutting the line.
And the wait can be dangerous in other ways.
An older woman, Irama Carrero, fainted one day when she stood in line all day after not eating. Fellow shoppers helped her back up after she tilted backward and hit her head on the ground.
Although the threat of violence is never far away, the lines have also become the stage for everyday life.
One recent day, Eder Noriega, taught his 3-year-old son Santiago his numbers as they waited in a supermarket line.
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