4 Things I Wish I Had Known Before the SHTF in Venezuela

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Plan for the worst. Hope for the best. All any one of us can do is the best we can at that moment in time. Decisions made, whether good or bad, have consequences. Everything we do has consequences.

When making decisions, whether it be what to have for dinner or how you will get yourself and your loved ones out of harm’s way if SHTF, having information beforehand is always a good idea. Even then, we don’t always have the right information. 

When it comes to catastrophic events, sudden SHTF, or events that cause civil unrest, time may not be on our side. Making snap decisions in any of these situations inevitably leads to some regrets and moments of, “If I only knew then what I know now.” 

Here are 4 of those things I wish I had known.

Stockpile, but also consider other alternatives

Having a stockpile is useful. A well-stocked pantry with food items that have a long shelf life will get you and your family through an emergency situation for some time. 

But, what if the emergency situation goes on far longer than expected? Whether you’re home, at your BOL, or fled to another country, you can grow and produce food from the land. And you should. 

Your stockpile should have more than just food items. Sure it’s great to have a whole arsenal of weapons if you can afford it. But, you will be grateful later on when you have things for hygiene, like soap and toilet paper in that stockpile. (Handmade soap, even better.)

With the way 2020 treated us, it’s safe to say, “Get it now, before it’s gone.” Because it will be, in the blink of an eye. In Venezuela, scarcity hit hard and fast. Pasta, flour, rice, and beans were coveted by neighbors. So much so, they would report their neighbors as “hiding” food to the NGs. 

Bottom line: I should have directed my efforts towards making my hutch safe and cozy with a well-stocked pantry. The land around it would have been filled with vegetables and free-roaming poultry. And, we would have had a reliable water source.    

Not everyone close to you will stick with you during hard times

You have to be psychologically ready to face dramatic changes in your life. Change of any kind brings with it some degree of uncertainty. Some people can not handle change, no matter how much preparation has gone into the plans. Others will claim they are ok with the SHTF plans made. In reality, they have no intention of going along with those plans.

Leaving my country, 30 years of hard work and all the effort I had put into keeping my family together was never what I wanted. Preparing for years, I had gathered resources, learned new skills, and had built a small network. Keeping my family together was what mattered.

I left my home in Venezuela for what I believed was a common goal of keeping the family unit together. The realization that all my efforts toward that goal were not appreciated left me shattered. My partnership was broken in a decision that was not made by me. Some people you thought you knew will let you down.

The choice to break up the family unit by excluding me left me no choice but to stay abroad. Though I could have gone back home and rebuilt my life, I refused to leave my most precious treasure behind—the future of my family, my child.

Bottom line: Some people, no matter how close they are to you, will not stick to the plans. Even if they told you they would. Inevitably, they will do whatever it is they want to do.  Mental preparation for everything is key to true survival. 

The impact of our choices on our children’s lives

Writing about this is heart-wrenching for me. Our children’s country, their heritage, and patrimony is a wreck. Somehow we could have ridden the waves until the seas calmed, and then the Covid storm hit. Attacking us when we were most vulnerable.

Suddenly the entire world turned its back on us. At least it seemed so to us. Living through the downfall of Venezuela is impossible to describe to those who did not. We witnessed our country’s children, who once lived in safe homes, selling candies in the streets. Unable to attend school anymore, they did what they had to.

Through it all, my boy was brave and full of courage. And then, my once independent, fearless little daredevil changed. This past year, I have noticed he often reaches for me, grabs my arm, and puts it over his chest. I believe he is feeling an extreme need for protection.  

It breaks my heart. I hope my boy will soon find his strength again and become the Warrior he was. I hope that for myself just as much. My mind often wanders, and the remorse of choosing to uproot him instead of going back to stay in our hutch tortures me. My roots run deep, and I have yet to heal my wounds. I hope someday I can.  

Bottom line: Had I known the damage it would have done to my boy and to myself, I would have made different choices. 

Prepping is not an expense. It is an investment

2020 has brought many lessons to many people worldwide. One of those lessons is the importance of prepping and being ready for SHTF. I wonder how long those lessons will remain in the minds of those who never understood the need for prepping.

Many people will never accept the need for prepping and will consider it an expense rather than an investment. People will remain blind to the changes that have already happened. They will be content to return to what I call “the scam” or the new normal and be pleased. They will be happy with miserable jobs, barely paying their bills. The opportunity to become self-sufficient and pass down the knowledge and the desire to do so to their descendants will be lost.

My ex frowned upon everything I brought home that would help us be more self-sufficient in the event of an emergency or if we had to go off the grid. She considered solar chargers, rechargeable batteries, power tools, and other items as useless expenses. 

Because I was concerned about a border lockdown and a Cuba-like seizing of private property and personal freedom, I decided that fleeing the country was best. With my many years of industrial experience, surely there would be opportunities. Or so I thought. The industry was already saturated.

Bottom line: Staying and investing in our land and the hutch would have been a much wiser choice than fleeing. I could have used my money and resources to put a new roof on the hutch, improve food production, add a chicken coop, build a strong fence, and have some peace of mind. 

My advice?

Be prepared for anything and everything. And be prepared to be surprised by what you don’t know.

What lessons have you learned in the aftermath of an emergency, crisis, or SHTF situation? Let me know in the comments. I look forward to hearing from our readers.

Stay safe and thank you for reading. ~Jose

About Jose

Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has a small 4 members family, plus two cats and a dog. An old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Thanks to your help Jose has gotten his family out of Venezuela. They are currently setting up a new life in another country. Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on Patreon. Donations: paypal.me/JoseM151

Picture of J.G. Martinez D

J.G. Martinez D

About Jose Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has a small 4 members family, plus two cats and a dog. An old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Thanks to your help Jose has gotten his family out of Venezuela. They are currently setting up a new life in another country. Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on Patreon. Donations: paypal.me/JoseM151

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  • Excellent advice from someone that’s experienced SHTF first hand. I think most preppers thought that a SHTF scenario like a pandemic would affect everyone in the same way but that’s not the case. COVID has shown that those in poor health either from diet, lack of exercise or hereditary issues are in a much higher risk group than those that are healthy, active and without pre-existing conditions. There are exceptions but overall poor life choices have put many of these people at risk while others are not affected.

    This applies to the political ideology that voters chose for the area in which they live. States and cities with liberal run governments have faired far worse than those states with conservative leadership. Again it comes back to choices made in the past will have a direct impact on the way problems are dealt with in the future.

    Same for finances as stated in the previous article. Instead of stockpiling food, personal hygiene products, cash and other necessities many of other ones struggling lived above their means, spent money on trivial things, failed to put anything into savings and now they are having to face the consequences of their decisions. We are in a SHTF situation for a lot of people and as many predicted the vast majority failed to prepare and are paying the price for both their choices and the decisions of others.

    • Thanks.
      We’re already facing a pre-SHTF. I don’t think this is the real one…yet. I’m sorry but things can go much much worst. That’s why I feel the need to come back, to be in familiar ground before it’s too late, or else, we won’t be able to come back in one piece. That 6th sense started to click a few months back now. But I prefer to write about it from the relative safety of my hutch.
      Thanks for your comment!

  • You did what you did and will learn to manage with those choices. You will never know how things would have turned out if you made different choices. Perhaps life would be worse for you and your family. Live in peace.

    • Thanks!

      Yep, I maybe hard with myself sometimes. Even without noticing it. I’m learning a lot by watching old chapters of “Flash”, to learn how his travels on time messed up things. LOL.

  • I love this list. The first one has been my mantra … FOR.EV.ER. Stocking up is great, but what happens when you run out of whatever supplies you had? My personal goal has always been – stock less, learn more. I’ve been more focused on building skills so that I could make what I needed. I mean, the reality is that the maurading hordes can’t steal my knowledge like they can those bags of rice. 🙂

  • Second guessing yourself doesn’t lead to happiness, for years I used to think what if I did this or done it a different way surely things would have worked out better. Life can suck. What I’ve learnt in tough times some stick but most don’t .it shows their personal strength or lack of not yours. I think just look at it as your ex gave you , your precious son. That was the best she may have had to give. At the core if your partner and you aren’t on the same wave length it will never work. Because it’s exhausting and not a good family environment for children. My ex once threw out my prepper pantry as it was clutter and only the poor stockpile food (didn’t donate the food , threw it out) . Anyways I think you did the best you could. As for covid19 I think we all felt alone and forgotten especially if your not connected by social media. Our connection to have family is a strong pull especially when you have children but sometimes our strength is going without for all the right reasons.
    Like you I pray for better times but will ALWAYS prepare for bad times . Wishing you and your son much happier days .

    • Dear Izzy,
      Thanks you very much for those wonderful words. Truly our son is the best we both could have done together! LOL.
      If you only knew him, you would understand. That’s a real sin, to throw out food. Anyways, as someone said, we have to live with the choices we made. I’m back on my feet again, and eager to start the 2021 round like Van Damme in his best movie. (He DID have a best movie…didn’t he??)

      • “Blood Sport” was one good movie, Jose, that he was in. As for whether Frank Dux’s story was true or fabricated is always the million dollar question. 🙂

        • I think it was true…didn’t the same Dux was helping in the movie to describe the environment?….I think having reading something like that. And yes, that was the movie that motivated me to workout and martial arts.

  • Jose, both this and your previous informative writings here are invaluable insights to the majority of us who have not experienced such agonizing choices … but might yet face them. I have read that some 4.6+ million of your Venezuelan countrymen have also made the choice to flee that country. I’m sure that having regrets afterwards is perfectly understandable but you may well have had no better choices.

    One issue not discussed is the conflict between prepper stockpiling of food, water, equipment and home defenses … and the possible need to leave much of it behind in such an emergency evacuation as you had to make. There are countless stories of similar evacuations in history (especially those who had to flee Hitler’s Europe in the 1930s or those fled the brutality of communist Russia) who arrived in their destination country with a couple of suitcases, the clothes they could carry, and a few funds unless they were able to smuggle any substantial wealth past or around the border guard system.

    In our era the USA’s TSA is notorious for confiscating sizeable amounts of cash or precious metals at the airports, so one would be wise to arrange for such wealth transfers to a safe offshore destination well before such a voyage. Today there are ways to accomplish such a transfer electronically (via wire transfer, etc) to bypass the TSA thieves.

    Back to the stockpiling versus the risk of having to leave most of it behind — how does one decide how much to stockpile and how much not to spend cash for if it’s at risk of being left behind? That’s going to be an agonizing decision based on the risk in each different country and every family’s different financial details. And it’s likely to never be discussed by the various long term survival food companies that are in business to maximize their sales.

    On a different topic, Christian civilization has long been based around the 10 Commandments, including the one about honoring one’s father and mother. I’ve often thought that there’s a major one missing that should say “Honor thy children” as well. Under some of the most difficult circumstances that anyone could ever face, you’re done a sterling job of taking care of and trying to smooth the future way for your son. I think that’s a sterling job of honoring that missing commandment.


    • “how does one decide how much to stockpile”

      one guy said three years, because after three years you’re as good a farmer as you’re ever going to be. I’d say five to cover a few crop failures (preppers never talk about crop failures).

    • “fled the brutality of communist Russia) who arrived in their destination country with a couple of suitcases, the clothes they could carry, and a few funds”

      fleeing a functional (if hostile) nation for another functional nation is one thing – fleeing a failing nation for another nation that is likely to cascade fail is an entirely different matter. and expecting the host nation’s bureaucracy to honor the rights of refugees is ill-considered.

      • Dear gman,
        When we arrived here politicians were not fighting each other. A few months after, they started to use the migration as a whip.

  • When people come to the door begging for help, you can either make a friend or an enemy, but not neither.

    If you decide to make a friend, that isn’t best done with charity.

    Empower them – barter.

    They retain dignity. They understand you have needs too.

    Build community.

    • “Empower them – barter”

      sounds great. but if they’re begging at your door it’s’ not likely they’ll be able to come up with anything to barter. and if you offer food for (some item) then they’ll know you have food and they’ll tell all their friends.

      • He refers to barter with labor, not with goods I think. In the past, in Venezuela sometimes a respectful gentleman would knock doors asking if they needed some garden job, or cleaning, or some heavy task. This disappeared on time, because thugs would use that cover for their demeanors.


  • Jose, is a “hutch” what someone in the U.S. might call a cabin or cottage? Also, is it possible your son is reacting to the breakup of your relationship with his mother rather than the move away from Venezuela? If so, that would have happened no matter where you live so you shouldn’t blame yourself. It also could be that he is being more “clingy” because he is trying to comfort you?

    • Dear Zabeth,

      A cabin or a cottage is luxurious compared with my hutch. LOL. In Venezuela everything is done with bricks and cement. Otherwise, thieves would steal everything. And this has been for centuries. Kiddo and I have been really close, because I’m raising him just like my dad has done it with us: with unstoppable, endless, love. He’s such a GREAT dad that the best I can to honor him is trying to be the best dad I can. I can’t really say why he’s acting like this, but I remember an age at which I seem to need extreme protection from him. Kind of sweet, if you ask me. My father never denied a hug. Not even today. I miss him badly.

  • HOPE means hearing other people’s experience. Thank you. I appreciate you writing about how some people will show their true colors during disasters and crisis. I think of it as a natural winnowing of the chaff in my life. It doesn’t feel good when it’s happening, though.

    I learned so much after Hurricane Sandy. We could not rely on any government entity or agency . The police had evacuated which the criminals were waiting for. It was individuals, some neighbors and some like the twinks from Occupy Wall Street who morphed in a heartbeat into Occupy Sandy who literally raced to our aid. They kept the hot nutritious meals and needed supplies coming. They kept a sense of civilized behavior and normalcy. I was in shock that the government seemed to have entirely broken down and was no longer dependable. What do you mean I can’t have electricity for three, four, five months? What do you mean that the trains don’t run here anymore? I learned to be very afraid of my neighbors, many in organized gangs who robbed and looted homes and business’s at gunpoint in the dark. They were the first ones on the relief lines with their hands out.

    Lucky for me I was evacuated after the hurricane by neighbors who came to get me out of the disaster area. I have no idea how I could have been psychologically prepared for the disaster and the aftermath of civil breakdown that I witnessed.

    I learned about a woman and her mother who appeared to be angels organizing clothing and food drives. This was a front for a profitable business scamming tractor trailers of Nike sneakers, home appliances and cash gift cards. The hardest lesson was that I can only depend on myself and those I do trust. if there is another natural or man made disaster like our current lock downs.

    • Dear Sonja,

      That was a really wise movement. The only disaster similar to Katrina was Vargas (Venez) in 1999. A mud sliding. And yes,, in that situations is where you find out who is with you…and who doesn´t.

  • Venezuela stood a chance of overturning the Socialist dictatorship with the help of the US under Prez Trump….

    NOW >>>>

    Unless the truth wins out the US stands a VERY good chance of now falling itself to Socialism – definitely a battle coming one way or another – the Zips are most certainly in the wire and coming thru …..

  • As an American who has read your many articles and full information, I really appreciate your experience and knowledge. Here in America, unless your wealthy. there is no where to go. America, a continent in itself, will shortly face a battle never charted at this level. We are shortly moving to the life or death survival. Many are not prepared at all but some are. Like I said, Americans have no where to go but fight.

  • I’ve spent a lifetime learning, saving, and as possible prepping. Too old to relocate well. I’ve survived times that most wouldn’t have survived but we’ll see what the coming times bring.
    I Live simple. That suits me. I have a garden as weather permits. I dry and can food. We have chickens, ducks, and rabbits. We’ve lived without electric for year now. It’s not as bad as most seem to think. I’m slowly collecting parts for a solar array. Learning about it too.
    Life goes on. If it ends its ok. I have reservations in for eternity. But I’ll do my best while I’m here. I have knowledge and have survived alone in the woods for 10 months. But i was 21 themn. Today I’m about to turn 74. My kids are preppers and if necessary will look after spouses and children. My insistence if its bad. I’m helping neighbors learn and prep. Our close prepping buddy died of covid last month. That means it’s us two old folks without help. And that’s ok just sad.

  • I have been watching what is going on in this country. Go to grocery stores and prices every week seem to be going up. People here are complaining about the utilities going up. Gas at the pump is going on. Minor crime is starting up in some places but not real bad yet. Just petty stuff like breaking into cars and such. Do to my Dh we will not be able to get out of dodge sort of speak. He is very disabled. I have stocked a lot of stuff around here, we have a well, and I am prepared as best I can be. I do have a garden and would like to add chickens now that we can have them here. We used to be around a lot of farm land and now the town has dropped on us and farmers sell of the farm land. We are now an urban community instead of country. Lots and lots of stores, apartments and more houses being built all the time.
    One of my biggest concerns is marshal law. My understanding is they can come in and take what they want, food, guns, you name it and as they put it for the good of the people. Or spread the wealth. We are not wealthy and I can what I grow. Without help, I cannot build a root cellar that would even go unnoticed. And I can’t just trust anyone to help me. So I really feel I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. I have seen and read about what has happened in Venezuela and also look at what happened after Katrina. They came in and busted up food from people’s houses, they took peoples guns, raped women and killed anyone that got in their way. It was bad in that state after that hurricane. So I know that in marshal law they will come and take what they want. So I feel a need to hide my food preps. etc. I have a bad feeling that what happened in Venezuela and other countries is coming to the USA. Things are changing fast. The state I live in is also now a totally democrat state that I want to get away from but not able to with our age and Dh being very much disabled.

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