Editor’s Note: There is a lot to learn, watching the long, excruciating collapse of Venezuela. Jose shares his insight and the stories of those left behind, as well as some suggestions in the event we ever found ourselves in a similar situation. This week, he provides an update on the new currency, the disastrous takeover of private businesses, and a story about one woman who is managing to survive the collapse in a barrio. I’m very thankful for the wisdom he shares with us from this horrible event. ~ Daisy
The most recent reports from Venezuela have been…somewhat disturbing, to say the least. Things just keep getting worse in an already terrible situation.
The new currency
The new bank notes seem to be already depreciating themselves, even before going into circulation. The money spent on the generation of these new bills is wasted, if that happens.
I wonder why the bartering and the usage of precious metals has not been as extended as it should…perhaps it is because of the people could not accumulate enough wealth in the last 20 years.
The power grid
The power grid is arriving to the final stage. The hydroelectric turbines like those used in Guri (the Venezuelan version of the Hoover dam) are delicate equipment that need a lot of money and skilled people to be maintained.
Formerly this was done with some companies belonging to the industrial services sector. These were contracts that after a public tender, were given to the winner of the bid. This, just like in any other civilized country, was the standard (there was some elbow rubbing and money under the table, of course, but it was kept to the highest levels unlike now), until Uncle Hugo and friends arrived. This is logical as they needed to allow corruption, so they could have the entire control. Those of the gang who rebelled against Uncle Hugo were in prison, proof and all, in a blink. And the proof was real, of course.
OK going back on topic. My people there have described, in their own words, the situation as apocalyptic. This is one of my former co-workers who used to laugh and joke about me buying toilet paper, flour, and sugar once a year while he used to drink twice as much as I do. I don´t drink a lot, because my stomach gets sick with just 5 or 6 beers, but anyway I preferred to save my liver for special occasions. He was a chubby guy, and he has lost plenty of weight, close to 35 kgs or maybe more. He just had his third baby, a lovely surprise, even in this scary times. If things were different perhaps I myself would have dared to have another kid, but…it seems that my two boys will have to have their own babies in the future.
Unemployment and “employee-owned” businesses
A very concerning fact is the impact of this crisis on employment. There are some companies that are struggling to keep operating. If they fail to float, their companies will be confiscated, and their facilities will be “assigned” (Jeez, how I have come to hate that word) to the workers, who never risked even a dime of their own in the commercial operation of a business.
But without the needed operation capital, nor consumables and with the providers running away (who is going to supply to a company without capital?) this is the road to oblivion. This has been seen in several instances, indeed. The “employees-owners” finish by selling whatever they can get out of the building, because there is no possible way they can afford the needed expenses to run the company.
This is what they called “laborer control”. Control obrero, or “gestion obrera” and I remember uncle Hugo proudly letting the laborers know that THEY knew how to produce whatever they were working on. HUGE mistake. Our oil and power production numbers inform to those morons, dumb enough to believe everything uncle Hugo said, are proof that in a modern world the knowledge is power.
In an unbelievable twist, the government decided to use a card that is being used as a blackmailing tool, the infamous “Carnet de la Patria” to instate a gasoline rationing. This is the tool used for the elections fraud, and the world seems to be unaware of this.
This means that (according to the extremely low volume of information that the mafia has issued about this topic) those with that Carnet will pay (supposedly) a very low price for gas. Those without the carnet, will have to pay international prices, with a salary that is not even close to the African republics.
This said, those living in developed countries will have a small idea of the potential problem. No oil industry, military controlling the supplies of everything massively consumed, and the gangs controlling by force the social uprising. If this is not just this close to boiling over…I will tattoo Uncle Nico’s face in my sorry backside.
The best plan for surviving a similar collapse
OK, jokes aside, the best option under the current situation is a nice compound not too close to the city but not too far either. I would go, but just because I know my area and my people, with a compound in some medium class neighborhood with a tall cement wall.
Small living headquarters means that much less power is needed for cooling, and lots of plants or trees provide a fresh microclimate. Some vegetable production media, a high performance one could have been developed, to maximize the space. Of course some laying hens, no matter if the neighbors complain. They will quit complaining after bartering some of their stuff to get eggs or some poultry.
A decent sized patch is expensive, but I know that the mother of one of my friends (a physics teacher, working now in a slippers factory, go figure) is living from the small plot of land behind her home in a low income barrio. She had to reinforce her wire fence, though, because they were stealing her vegetables. A good, big, old dog with a nice growl ability is enough. I truly hope they don’t hurt him. She cultivates plaintains, yucca, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and some other roots commonly found in the Caribbean. Add a small piece of some kind of meat to a pot, a couple of carrots, and it is done. Her meals are mostly whatever she can barter for her products. I know she has even got soap and shampoo and other personal hygiene items by trading with eggs and poultry.
These hygiene supplies have become very rare items, and expensive, hard to find. Eggs and poultry, not that much, but their quality has decreased a lot: size and sanitary conditions are just not the same and the herds are diminishing because of the needed vaccines (imported) are no longer available…perhaps this is something good because it will allow to those herds to recover their strength, but in the mid term…well, we all know the consumption has decreased as well with the almost 6 million of people who have left.
This is confirmation that those who know how to get food from the earth will endure much longer than the other ones like me, who do not have the needed skills to procure themselves food in a rural environment, unless foraging, fishing, or “hunting” some poor critter for a pot of stew.
Don’t get me wrong: I grew up into the tropical forest, but never tried to live or grow something as I moved to a concrete jungle pretty early in life. With the proper tools and equipment, though, and the nice weather, knowing what I know now about water management and some other stuff freely available in the web, I am sure that I could manage myself. But the problem is not just me, but my loved ones. I am able to fix myself with Caribbean rum and some chewed tobacco in a wound, and to improve my disease resistance with natural herbs, aloe vera and orange juice. I know chemistry enough for distilling some spirits without killing or blinding anyone, and making soap. But after the salmonella issue with my younger kid, I am not taking any chances, fellows.
And to provide useful advice, here is the real valuable information of this article: try to get a setup of long life batteries and low consumption LED warm lights. Feed power with your preferred method: a pork walking inside a huge hamster-like wheel if you want, but do it.
Because in a long term collapse it is likely that you won’t have electricity, and we know how we depend on this.
I just saw one of the major car manufacturers in Europe selling a scooter able to make 100 kilometers. with a single 3 hour charge. With the current fuel rationing in my (formerly) oil producing country, this would be an excellent alternative. As a matter of fact, I am going to design and try to build some sort of cart with batteries, and an assistance small electrical engine for my bike. (The pedal version, not the chrome behemoth back there in Venezuela, perhaps we have to come back and we will need cheap daily transport)
I want to thank again to those reader who have been kindly sending assistance.
My younger kid is in the middle of a spiritual awakening (his grandma is doing a good job talking him about God) and I enjoy a lot when he found 5 cents in the sidewalk, and smiles and says “Look dad! God is good with us again.”
He is indeed, my dear son. I have plenty of readers that are a proof of that.
I love you all, people!
Stay safe, and God Bless you.