Quite a lot has been written about events that led to the current situation in Venezuela. I understand that the aftermath of the cold war that took our country to its knees can be confusing for those who have never had the opportunity to live in any place in South America, and the media bias could be a distracting agent to understand what it´s all about. I write just about facts, and about what we have experienced, or very close people have experienced. The first part of this article is for those who need a deeper insight into the reasons, and not so much about how to deal with the consequences of the crisis.
I started to ask myself an entire series of questions. One of them was How is it possible that our economy is worse than one in a country in war? And the answer I could deduct is, that we are victims of a war. Not so cold, but a war, no doubt.
Venezuela was forced out of the oil market.
Russians have positioned themselves as USA crude oil providers, in a formidable twist that left me stopped right on the tracks. I´m not exaggerating: I felt like a cold water shower. It was the trigger that suddenly made me understand EVERYTHING. The Ukraine issue, all that chit-chat back and forth between Donald and Vladimir…I saw the light, so to speak.
I don´t know if it is just me, or if anyone else sees the big picture. Something like this: we were producing in 1990s decade 2.6 MMBB. There were plans to raise that production to 3 Million. This would be to provide the increasing demand of the global economy. For the OPEC countries, it was not bad. Everyone had a portion, a share, to reach, and fixed prices allowed a solid budgeting operation. But (and that is a big “but”) Russia was NOT part of this organization. They were invited and always refused. The reasons (the real ones) are not clear to me, and maybe never will be, with my limited access to knowledge. The truth is, that without their production subject to shares, they could position their product without restrictions. Pricing was lower than the market, I guess. It´s not as relevant for this analysis. What IS relevant is that they needed to incorporate themselves in a market. Why they needed to occupy shares (OUR shares) belonging to the OPEC…well, that is something really deep, and I don´t feel like getting into that right now. Time will tell. But I do know how evil Russian governments can be. After all, there is the Ukraine issue. Backed up by the USA, and in the very frontier of Russia. So they decided to play the same card and screwed MY HOMELAND in the process. Yes, I have kind of a grudge. Have enough reasons for.
What I see is a forced displacement of Venezuela from the markets we used to take for granted since our exports started. Cuba, being an ally of Russia even though the Soviet state collapsed, has never been able to pull their own weight because of the ineptitude of their rulers, corrupted and miserable as they are. Therefore, they decided to infiltrate Venezuela, once the army was fractured, brainwashed, or blatantly corrupted as well, and deviate our wealth to their crappy island to avoid starvation, social uprisings, and the well-deserved OBLIVION they are facing as I write this. It´s inevitable. They destroyed my country with an underground war. They kidnapped officers, tortured them and threatened their families, including women, elder, and kids. Killed people in the massive demonstrations. I´m not making this up. President Guaido has spoken about this openly again and again. It had the effect of a WAR, with millions of displaced people, including this writer. So, it can be considered a war. I don´t know what generation it can be considered, but it´s an insidious war, with an enemy disguised as a friend, as someone who came supposedly to heal, to teach, and suddenly we find out that 27 members of our Special Forces were in a political prison, called El Helicoide. These guys were trained in the USA by the way. Go figure.
People in South America have had to bug out, and most were not prepared.
This war occasioned one of the largest movements of people in the last 50 years in South America. It´s heartbreaking for me to see pictures of people bugging out (and I mean, this is the REAL DEAL of bugging out´s history) totally unprepared: soda bottles instead of proper canteens. Fabric backpacks that break the 5th day of hiking and walking, because of overloading and use. Tennis shoes that last a few dozens of kilometers and have to be repaired in some way, with wire, nylon thread, duct tape (something impossible to buy in Venezuela because it is imported and highly priced), or some other materials before falling apart. One of the most impressive pictures was a father cuddling his daughter protecting her in a freezing blizzard, in the middle of the mountains between Colombia and Ecuador, dressed just with a T-shirt, and the girl well protected against the bad weather. Young women have been kidnapped, raped and murdered in the roadways. Families have died in the bus crashes. It´s a mess that is quite difficult to imagine. Just by being a witness, as I am, one can understand how deep the effects of the Russia grip was. I am sure that things are going to be much better, including Maduro being wrapped in gift paper and sent to his final destination, whatever this could be…because the agreement already has been signed, and he´s no longer needed. Finally, USA has a reliable (supposedly) oil provider. Until we recover our production and rebuild our army with real freedom and democratic values. Decades, of course. Meanwhile, Russia will have provided the needed means, and in 20 more years, oil may not be the main energy source, as fast as the technological advances are going. This crisis is compared only with the Mediterranean one. No wonder, Greece government was openly identified as well as a “leftist” one. They destroyed the economy of the country, via subsidized society. There was no way to make this an on-going policy, sustainable on time.
Anything edible is currency!
This said I will give some details about the state of the general economy in the streets.
Let´s start with a small price list:
Eggs 24.000 Bs or 3.90$
Cornmeal around 10.000 Bs 1.9$ (flour for arepas)
White hard cheese 24.000 Bs or 3.90$
Beef Meat 28.000 Bs or 4.75$ per kilo.
Coffee 22.000 Bs or 3.50$
Rice 9.000 Bs or 1.50$
Vegetable oil 35.000 Bs or 5.90$
Sugar 6.000 Bs or 0.9$
Honey 7$ per kilo
I know you´re quite interested in that sort of thing too. To begin with, the national currency is almost worthless. There is a lot of strong currency, dollars, and euros in circulation, as it was to be expected. Food prices are low, but for those who work with a fixed income, forget about it. Minimum wage is a joke. All the people I have talked with, or chat with, have some sort of side business to make the ends meet. I have talked about this in other articles, but it´s quite interesting to see how this trend has been gaining specific weight as the crisis deepens. Of course, bartering is now one of the most common way of trade. In the beginning, say 2015-16 or so it was present to some degree; but in these last few months with the absolute disaster of the monetary system, it became a common practice. There are exchange platforms being used, as well, for those with most technical skills. Of course, this depends on their access to power and internet.
Bartering has become a way of life.
So, an important note here. Bartering becomes, for those systems that tank into a deep collapse and no other way of monetary exchange exists, as in rural towns, the main way of trading. Anything has value if someone needs it. I have seen farmers giving away tons of junk (for them) and an old electrician I know to rebuild it and resale it, making 6 months’ worth of food on the table
I believe this is important, too: scarcity seems to be worse in some places than in other ones. The causes of these differences are not entirely clear to me. It could be the general political trend those communities exhibit, that impacts directly in the few problems they generate, low turmoil incidents, and as a reward, they receive some more fuel and less rationing hours of electricity.
People in smaller towns living in houses with large gardens (something kind of common, an heritage from the Spaniard culture) has usually optimized their usage, and have now different fruit trees, some corn, the always welcome tapioca or yucca (different to the kind you know there), some makeshift rabbit or poultry cages. This has been sort of common, but of course, in the last 3 years has become widespread. Mainstream, so to speak. 4 papayas can be exchanged by a quarter of a kilo of sugar. 1 dozen eggs remaining of your production will buy one kilo of cheese or one kilo of corn meal/flour for arepas. You get the idea.
And this is how are things going there now. We came back on time about…maybe 80 years or so, in terms of a modern economy. I am going to collect some information with one of my relatives who works in a small hospital, about the sanitary conditions and the medical supplies accessibility.
I want to give special thanks to those who have supported this effort to communicate and offer useful advice via the sponsoring and patronizing; it has allowed me to keep connected and dedicating time and resources to this activity. Things have not been easy, and I just hope that whatever has to occur happens soon, and come back to rebuild my homeland.
Once this happens, I will keep documenting the homestead finishing with videos and articles!
Thanks for your comments!
Stay tuned people.
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