Venezuelans, desperate to find anything of value in their country where the currency has collapsed and widespread political and economic chaos rules, are now targeting whatever commodity they can get their hands on: this includes jewelry and human bones, which desperate locals can then sell for a profit, according to the BBC.
The British network spoke to relatives of those who had family members at one cemetery, the Cementerio del Sur, who are now standing guard at their relatives tombs to keep looters away.
Eladio Bastida, whose wife is buried in the cemetery said: “I come here every week, or every two weeks. I keep watch. I worry I’ll arrive one day and she’ll be gone. When I buried her, you could just walk in here, but lately you can barely reach her grave, because every tomb has been opened and the remains taken out.”
Looters are primarily looking for jewelry, gold teeth, and skeleton remains that can be sold for use in various rituals. Damage at cemeteries is so widespread that workers can’t keep up with repairing graves. Even historical figures like novelist and former Venezuelan president Rómulo Gallegos have had their graves looted.
Bastida continued: “This is a lawless land, there is no respect for anything here. God will punish those people that are doing this.”
One resident, Jorge Liscano, told the BBC he plans to exhume his relatives’ remains to keep them safe: “This is the result of social collapse, a lack of education, the loss of values in our homes and our institutions. In recent years, this country has only focused on politics. We have forgotten about the things that make us human.”
The crisis in Venezuela has escalated recently as the national electric grid has broken down and left residents without basic human needs. Managing the remains of the deceased continues to be a challenge in the countr