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September 11, 2018

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: As the price of baby formula in Venezuela soars, moms turn to each other for help.

In Venezuela, baby formula has become so expensive for families that some mothers have begun turning to other women for breast milk donations or even to nurse the babies directly.

President Nicolás Maduro’s government eliminated five zeros from the national currency in an attempt to combat wild inflation in Venezuela, but now a medium-size can of imported baby formula costs even more — 3,300 bolivares or about $33 at the black market exchange rate.

And finding formula to buy isn’t easy. It means going to a resale market because it is almost impossible to find in regular supermarkets or pharmacies.

Marianella Herrera Cuenca, a sociologist from Central University of Venezuela, heard during her visits to poor and middle-class homes about informal networks of women who were helping other mothers by supplying their children with breast milk when they couldn’t afford to purchase enough formula.

A study by Herrera Cuenca and others at the university into the lives of poor mothers in Venezuela — the results have not yet been released publicly — found that as many as three in 20 mothers are being helped to feed their babies by relatives or friends who supply breast milk.

Plus: “39 percent of Venezuelans kids in underprivileged neighborhoods are not breastfed all the way to the six-month mark — and many are then fed with the water used to cook rice or spaghetti, or with corn flour mixed with cow or goat milk, diets that could make them even more undernourished.”

But people opposed to socialism are “uncaring.”