Venezuela 7 Years After the Collapse: Thieves, Fuel Shortages, Hunger, and the Black Market
by J.G. Martinez D.
The past few months, thinking of going back to my country has added to my inquietude and taken a toll on my mood. Politics aside, the pandemic alone has changed everything. If tomorrow I was offered a European passport or a Green Card, it would be hard to choose. In the best-case scenario, I accept that I must live the rest of my life as a refugee. However, I think of what that would do to my kiddo. My son would never see his grandparents alive again. If this all continues as it is now, my life expectancy could be reduced to 5-10 years from now. I am not exaggerating.
What life in Venezuela was like before.
Back in 2016, I was watching some educational channels and enjoying a glass of wine in my air-conditioned bedroom. In my free time, I was teaching my kiddo how to operate my CNC equipment. I had him cutting and carving out some pieces, and practicing engraving methods.
I seriously believed things were going to change for good, and I would live long enough to see my kid and my grandsons go to college.
I´m not so sure now. It is likely many of you reading this are not so sure either.
What life in Venezuela is like now.
My hometown is small and it is (or was) peaceful. Everyone knows each other and you can still go out at night, though there are not too many places to hang out. It is a farming town, with small to medium-size farms. Cattle, pigs, corn, sorghum and tobacco are the main farms. Every now and then, there will be tomatoes grown and a few other things. Back in the day, the very best tomato sauce was produced there and appreciated by the entire country.
We used to manufacture goods such as matches, shoes, freezers, fridges, and more. Then, globalization was introduced. Suddenly, it was cheaper to produce tomato sauce using tomato paste imported from Chile, half a continent away. Now, we light the fire on our kitchen stove with disposable, and extremely expensive, Chinese plastic lighters. In the same way, our national brands of clothing and shoes, like Sergio Valente, Didaven, Laura Shoes, and many others, were replaced by cheap Chinese fakes that were not even close to the same quality.
Now, where the only law is the fear imposed by AK-toting guys, in unidentified vehicles, crime has increased in the countryside and in the cities. Restrictions on importation were lifted and those using foreign currency made huge fortunes importing from abroad. Just a couple containers with 400K worth of Christmas ornaments could be sold at twice that price. (After bribing the customs officers.)
(I offer you only this slight perspective now. More will be described in great detail in my book, scheduled to be out this year.)
Farmers vs. Farm Thieves
Farmers in Venezuela have routinely faced thieves. Why? Lack of weapons for self-defense and corruption of the authoritative institutions. If a farmer were to shoot a thief, even while his life was under deadly threat, it would be a real feast for the police. The farmer would be thrown in jail, with no communication allowed, for a few days to build pressure. After those few days, they would ask the farmer for something to fix that regrettable mistake. Then the officers would make it clear to their subordinates that they, “never should have allowed this fine gentleman to be subject to such mistreatment, blah blah blah.” After the cash had exchanged hands, apologies were given and everything would be forgotten in a few weeks. Its been this way for a long time.
It saddened and alarmed me to learn from a farmer in the Los Andes Mountains that people would come from the town, walking kilometers uphill during the night, even when raining, to steal potatoes. Crops that have not yet matured are being dug out of the ground. Farmers have to sleep in their potato fields to avoid being stolen from. Unarmed, roving bands of four or more thieves have caused the farmers to arm themselves with machetes and pikes.
My brother-in-law is a countryside kind of guy, living in the little house they could afford in a barrio. As soon as they moved in they started a garden. However, being unprotected and without money for a fence in the back, it was quickly looted by neighbors. The culture where food for the kids was respected is now long gone in the modern Venezuela society. Back in the day in the inner towns even accidentally killing an animal belonging to someone else, was something serious. Unless a compensation was given to the owner, you could expect problems. I can see why. I´m sure you can, too. In the countryside towns, everyone had chickens of their own, and chickens have been an important part of homesteading. Chicken thieves were usually beaten up by the entire town!
How is the gasoline shortage affecting people?
With the authorities selling gasoline for their own personal profit, it’s unlikely that anything will go back to normal. If anyone tries to stop them, they rebel and start shooting. They use any excuse they can to stomp on the people. Authorities stand armed at the gas stations, intimidating people on the lines. The most recent information is that civilians, even medical personnel, won´t have access to fuel of any type. Under the ruling of a failed state, only law enforcement and politicians will have access to fuel.
Farmers don’t have the fuel they need to run their farms, the tractors run on fuel. (A few years ago I contacted a manufacturer in Europe regarding electric tractors and even started a brief market research. Some of them questioned and laughed at me. I am sure more than one of those guys are now questioning themselves. I am now, he who laughs the last…)
As I write this, thieves have begun invading homes looking for cash and food, instead of jewels, or TV’s or appliances. Sometimes tools, so they can sell them to someone who works for a living and can use those tools. My friends pay 3$ a liter for gasoline just to pick up their groceries or to be able to deliver some of their own products.
My friends are paying 3$ a liter of gasoline just to be able to buy some groceries or deliver some of the products they make.
The people’s rage is growing.
Staying put vs. going back.
Staying put has made me feel unsafe, in jeopardy, and has affected my mood and my overall health. You may wonder if leaving here to head for my country and be with my kiddo, is a good decision, and how I am going to accomplish this given the current situation in Venezuela.
If there’s no gasoline in Venezuela, I will use bio-gas or diesel. Or, even better, I will make an electric trike or motorized trailer to push me uphill while pedaling the rest of the time! (The “uniforms” can shove their stolen fuel up their……) If I do not have any other choice, I will pedal my legs off until I arrive at my cottage! Staying here, overseas for much longer is not an option anymore. There are no other countries in South America willing to accept more migrants from Venezuela. I can not support myself here because there is NO employment. I am at risk of being kicked out by my landlord if things get any worse. And it is very likely they won’t get better.
One advantage is that there, we´re pretty far away from the beaten path. After planting some rows of pasture, randomly, in the middle of the road, a few weeks of heavy rain, and adding some dry branches and logs, the last few hundred meters to our gate would be acceptably concealed and not easy to find. Unless given specific directions, someone just wandering around will not arrive at my front gate.
The most feared encounters are with the local lowlife variety. These can be quite dangerous because they see everyone else like “foreigners” even though we were born 30 km away. Mountain people can be weird That´s why I feel the need to spend my last days there in the future. Suits me perfectly. Locals are nosy by tradition, and too curious for my liking. But having never messed with them but on the contrary, helping them and being extremely respectful of their privacy, has been quite helpful. Now that I am older, that will be passed on to my offspring. I grew up in those mountains after all, and learned to love them.
Whatever is going on, it is best to be prepared for any unexpected hazards, especially thieves. They are desperate and they don´t care if the owner needs the hens that are being stolen to lay eggs for bartering. Concealing your place is a good idea. You may consider reinforcing your fencing, although, this can be counterproductive as it may make the average lowlife wonder what valuable items are behind those reinforced walls? If I were you, I would get myself a few inexpensive, good quality crossbows, a payload of bolts, and enough spare parts enough for a zombie war. And. I would be getting everything as soon as possible, while the postal system is still working. With the current situation, I would much rather be there trying to survive than here exposing ourselves to disease. I have much knowledge on this and I know how to live with just the basics. I’ve been doing it for a long time.
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
About the Author
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