Global crisis, personal impact

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Not just random people
Not just random people

Over at the Transitions blog, I tried to convey how the oil crisis is hurting ordinary people in Venezuela. Here is the main point I was going for by using snippets of stories from people I know:

The Venezuelan crisis affects everyone, but to varying degrees. There are still plenty of wealthy people in the country, many of them connected to the government in one way or another. Some make enormous sums by playing the system, whether it be by taking advantage of the black market or exploiting other arbitrage opportunities.

But these are the exceptions. As the country’s economy goes from bad to worse, writers about Venezuela are running out of modifiers to describe the situation: imploding, reeling, collapsing.

Perhaps it’s time we incorporate a few more personal adjectives: despairing, soul-crushing, exasperating. That would probably better reflect the mood inside the country.

Tell us – what are some of your personal stories of how the crisis is affecting you, or people you know?

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1 COMMENT

  1. As I mentioned earlier in my blog, lots of people I know got chikungunya. After weeks with the worst symptoms they are marked with very strong rheumatic pains time after time…apparently that feeling will
    keep popping up for about two years.

    Those affected are having a hard time finding Paracetamol (and similar stuff), which is the only thing that reduces the excruciating pain.

    One professor at the UCV said probably more than 1.5 million people have got chikungunya in Venezuela right now
    http://venezuela-europa.blogspot.be/search/label/health%20in%20Venezuela

    I hear almost nothing about this from people in Caracas, perhaps because mosquitoes are less frequent there than in Barquisimeto, Valencia, Coro, Cumaná, etc.

    • There was plenty of chicunguya in Caracas.

      Using my office as a sample, at least 30%-40% of the staff had to take sick leave for themselves, or to care for their children or their elderly parents. I heard similar stories from people outside work.

      This happened between September and November 2014.

      The million and a half number is the number of cases that got reported to the health ministry. That is: people who went to public hospitals, CDIs, IVSS hospitals OR people who had to validate a sick leave longer than 3 days.

      Retirees, housewifes, self-employed, unemployed or anyone who didn’t need a piece of paper to justify their absence from work is not in those stats, if they went to a private healthcare institution or just buckled up.

    • A really surprising number of people I know have the symptoms, although whether people are being correctly diagnosed, or diagnosed at all, is another question. But really surprising numbers. It may be being misdiagnosed in some cases as dengue, or vice versa, but whatever it is, it is common.

  2. While visiting the motherland (Margarita Island), ran out of diapers for the baby. We could not find any diapers anywhere, when they arrived lines were huge and ran out quickly.

    My wife found some with a local “empanadera” at 5x the subsidized price. I said hell no, I am not buying!!!. I got around finding some eggs later that day at a farm (they are also very scarce), and ended up exchanging eggs for my kids diaper. El legado del eterno vive!!

  3. Back in November 18, my father in law felt an intense chest pain at his home. We called 3 different ambulances but he died 1 hour later. Today is January 12, we are still waiting for the ambulances to come.
    His blood pressure medication disappeared 6 months ago and we were in the middle of buying it in the US when all this happened.

  4. Well, there are many stories. I’ll just hit the highlights. I’m in the U.S., but my family is back in Venezuela. They avoid leaving the house as much as possible due to the crime. When they do leave, it is largely to get food or supplies which are getting harder to find. The last time we talked, diapers and dish and laundry soap were the things most wanted.

    Those who had entry level jobs can’t really afford to go to them anymore. The pay is worthless and the risk of going to work is very great. One of my cousins was beaten for her cell phone while waiting for a bus. She spent the night in the hospital and still isn’t felling well months later.

    In addition, we are seeing more and more Venezuelans leaving the country coming to the U.S. We try to help these former neighbors and friends when they arrive, but the immigrant situation in the U.S. is very difficult now. It is not easy to get a green card. None of them want to leave and are trying hard to get sponsors. I’ve never seen so many Venezuelans in the U.S. as now.

    Like many Venezuelan families, we were split between Chavez supporters and those that didn’t support him. We had some cold years among some of the family group that took their politics very seriously. Now I can say that everyone is united against the government. When I was in Venezuela last, we went to a hardware store like Home Depot in the U.S.. It had nothing on the shelves but cheap plastic storage boxes. We had a toilet and some electrical things to fix in our family home and we couldn’t find anything for sale. There weren’t even nails. We had to go to some of the smaller stores that sell repurposed pieces to jerry-rig the fix. Our family car is another story. We have one car for about 14 people. It takes everyone to school, work, shopping, etc. It’s a small car and needs repairs often. We can’t get basic car parts. We have learned to be very good mechanics in finding fix arounds for major problems.

    My family is in Caracas. The water supply comes and goes as does the power. Everyone in my family tells me that the city is very tense and that there is a sense that things are about to get very difficult.

  5. Not even if you live in a prosperous city like Ann Arbor you are safe from the debris of a hell braking loose in Venezuela, if you have family there. I call almost every day and each time the stories get worse. Lack of necessities, fear, untreated diseases, pirouettes to get by.

  6. “For Venezuelans, the Fall in Oil Prices is Personal”, great title.

    It reminded me of a joke tweet I saw some weeks ago: “The fall in oil prices doesn’t affect me, because I don’t buy nor sell oil”, which itself was a response to the (sadly) popular opinion “The rise of the black dollar doesn’t affect me, because I don’t buy stuff or sell stuff in dollars”.

  7. OT:

    Capriles just wrote on his twitter feed:

    Y este si es el momento para la movilización de los venezolanos,el único que está desestabilizando el país son los enchufados del Gob

    Así que los del Gob no vengan con las mismas pendejadas e imbecilidades de siempre,hay caos y crisis y nadie tiene pq calársela

    Do you guys now like Capriles? Are you still thinking about how to deal with it?

    • Never mind about Capriles.

      What about you? How are you doing? Are you able to find food, cosmetics, diapers?

      Are you part of those who are made to sing “Chavez vive” in the queue?

      Or are you one of those who wear their privilege like a badge, and get food from the secret government supply in Coche?

      • Alejandro, I’ve been reading the internet for a long time. I think that condescending false dichotomies such as yours are very common. I want to be your peer, not someone you ridicule. More than that, there should be as many political standings as there are colors. Don’t fit me into your little gyps box.

        • Well, I was just asking how were you doing. Don’t feel offended. You may even think I was worried for your welfare.

          By the way, what is this gypsy thing about? why do you call everyone a gypsy?

          • “Well, I was just asking how were you doing.”

            If I told you, Alenjandro, I’d be part of the chorus. Please read the article. There’s the implication that wealthy people in Venezuela are “collaborating” with the government in a negative way. They are soliciting ghetto-mind resent.

          • “There’s the implication that wealthy people in Venezuela are “collaborating” with the government in a negative way”

            Of course.

            Must of us consider it “a negative way” when the media companies who toe the line (Cisneros’s Venevisión comes to mind) are rewarded, while non-cooperating media companies are smashed (RCVT being shutdown once, and then again as RCTVI).

            We also consider it “a negative way” when CORPOELECT gives out contracts, without any public tender, to Derwick, resulting in the state overpaying massively to this rich folks, and in return, they give high government officials juicy kickbacks, all paid for by the Venezuelan people.

            Another one of those “negative ways”, for many of us, is when CADIVI-CENCOEX, SITME or SICAD dollars are awarded not to real companies in need of raw materials, but to fake companies. The case of bicycle producers comes to mind

            Not to overextend myself, some of us consider it to be negative, that with in the of the midst the 2014 crisis, the government awarded dollars to the rich folks at the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League at the 6.30 rate, while there wasn’t enough Atamel to deal with Chicunguya, milk and chicken were a constant source of mini riots inside supermarkets.

          • If you buy into the idea that all wealthy people are corrupt, you are basically a chavista. Couple that with the blatant fascism in this blog -I don’t know how can you people be so gullible.

          • Nobody said all wealthy people are corrupt.

            There IS however a group of wealthy people getting very rich off the chavista regime.

            It’s a sad world you live in if chavismo doesn’t appeal to you, and you find this blog fascist. Where is the middle ground according to you?

          • He uses “gypsy” as an insult because he’s racist, he’s a chaburro too, ’cause those are the ones who come here just to troll claiming to be “more pure than the rest of mortals for being absolutely neutral, objetive and apolitical”. In fact, why are low-rank chabobos so afraid to let other people know they support and celebrate the gutter they’ve turned Venezuela into?

            Maybe he’s a low-rank moron who thinks he’s very clever (but is an idiot puppet at the end), who’s just venting his anger at his dissapointing regime in this blog.

            He thinks he’s safe from the shit avalanche from chaburrismo, either because he’s an enchufado, or because he keeps lying to himself with stuff like “it’s their blame, not maburro’s (and by extension, shiabbe’s)”

          • I am not a racist, nor am I a “chaburro”. I would appreciate if you would stop conjugating “cha” with all sorts of demeaning things. It is embarrassing.

  8. Well, it isn’t in the same league as others, but I am refinishing the balcony in my apartment, because of the “salitre” it was in pretty bad shape and a lot of the plaster needed to be repaired. In the middle of the project, I am stopped because I can’t find materials. I told my worker that I would call him when I find materials. So, now it appears that I am living in a “rancho”.

  9. Most of this blog reader’s relatives live In Caracas, but in the inner country the panorama its even worse: You are noticing the large lines of people begging for goods in Caracas the latter days, but its situation is our day-to-day since a long time ago for those who are living outside the Capitol region.

    1) We live in the most Venezuela’s westward state: Zulia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zulia), specifically in the Eastern Coast (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Costa_Oriental_del_Lago_de_Maracaibo) at about 1-hour driving distance from Maracaibo city (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maracaibo), the State most important and populated city.

    A lot of people lives in the Eastern Coast and commute to Maracaibo, the only way to travel from one side to another is across the ‘Rafael Urdaneta Bridge’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Rafael_Urdaneta_Bridge) that joins both coasts…but the police guards in both sides often checks the vehicles and seize the goods that you carry, because is prohibited by a chavista’s law “move” goods purchased in one city to another..(Note to the Non-Venezuelans readers: This is not a joke, we have a Law invented for that!)

    2) Apart to have to wait for hours in a line for begging basic supplies, you have to *mandatory* register your fingerprint in a electronic device that records your ID number and full name and this system prevents you from purchasing anything more in that supermarket until 7 days latter …of course if you go today to *that* supermarket and you don’t find your milk of diapers or any other basic product and by mere casualty any of those is available tomorrow at the same place…. you simply don’t have any chance to buy that….because the fingerprint recording system has blocked you…

    BTW, the “fingerprint recording system” is called “captahuella” ….

    • “BTW, the “fingerprint recording system” is called “captahuella” ….”
      A.k.a. the “fingerprint HUNTING machine” or “máquina CAZA huellas”

  10. Was just there visiting family. Learned that the very few young educated couples I know that still remain there are leaving for other countries (Chile, Peru, Spain) by the end of February (already have tickets bought, even if they don’t have jobs). These are engineers or attorneys graduated from the top Caracas universities and working for large companies who really wanted to make things work in their home country. I think the turning point was when they realized that due to inflation and devaluation they were making close to $100 a month. In the meantime, until earlier last year (when the government finally clamped down), a Colombian I know living in Venezuela with zero education and having to do little work was making 4 times as much as any young professional a month through “remesas familiares”. That just breaks my heart…

    Other things I noticed in Caracas, in the limited time I spent outside my family’s home:
    – City is very dark at night. Almost all street lights, even in highways and billboards, are off.
    – The maiquetia airport was depressing: All cafes, duty fee shops, fuentes de soda, everything was empty, you could not even get an Arepa in el Budare. You basically have employees there sitting around doing nothing and laughing when you ask them for something in the menu that they dont have. Bizarre.

  11. Had a family member die unexpectedly. I can’t comment whether or not the lack of adequate health care contributed. However, finding a coffin for the burial was incredibly difficult and a stressful experience for the family.

    • “To shorten the lines, police today began to enforce a directive from President Nicolas Maduro’s administration that limits consumers to two shopping days per week at government-owned food stores, said Alejandro Milano, a coordinator of Venezuela’s Food Mission.”

      Can’t such acts trigger famine? I think Venezuela is going straight to that.

      • Can’t such acts trigger famine? I think Venezuela is going straight to that
        I doubt that the “two shopping days per week” directive will be happily complied with, in spite of the quote in the article. I suspect that riots will come before famine.

  12. Venezuelan oil at 34USD per barrel today, January 13 2015.

    Antonio Maduro and his extended and political family are at Doha, inaugurating a flight Doha-Caracas.

    • Just Antonio Maduro (is that his new ‘exile’ alias?) setting his escape plan.

      As he knows that he will need a plane leaving for a very distant land when hell breaks lose.

  13. Please correct me if I am wrong but as far as I know there has never been a government with this combination on indolence, incompetence, selfishness, cruelty and stupidity.

    Even by our own historical standards (not great) these guys are a disaster. They are making Jose Tadeo Monagas look like a statesman.

  14. Right now, as we speak, young men coming from Prados del Este and La Boyera are infiltrating queues in Antímano and El Valle.

    This whole situation reminds me of Ukrainian peasant in the 1930s. Stalin said they starved on purpose to make the Soviets look bad.

    Venezuelans work themselves up into a frenzy every time they see a frozen chicken just to make chavistas look fu#”€%ing useless.

  15. Went to the bank this morning to cash a cheque and was told that they would have to pay me in 5 and 10 bs bills (making for a very hefty bundle of bills) because they were not recieving bills of any higher denomination , They can only pay with bills of more than 10Bs when other customers deposit then during the day .!!
    I suppose with higher prices the 5 and 10 Bs bills are pretty useless to pay for normal things so most people pay with 100 and 50 bs bills causing a shortage of higher denomination bills and forcing the govt to impose on the banks the use of smaller denomination bills .

    A few months ago I saw a BCV directive telling the banks that they must use small denomination bills in every tcash transaction ,now its paying the whole thing using these bills.

    Even ordinary paper money is now becoming scarce , is the revolution going to fund itself by printing 5 and 10 bs bills.??

    • They will soon abolish money altogether and return to our origins, to the way Amerindians used to trade with the colonizers: trueque. If you give me a mirror, than I give you a goat.

      • Not exactly, the new currency will be “anything you have for a bullet in the face”, created by our fabulous “niños incomprendidos que quieren cambiar” (aka malandros) and sponsored by fosforito varela’s ministry of prisons in addition to carmen “hacen cola porque quieren” menéndez’s ministry for justice, inner affairs, peace, and other crapload of stupid adjetives I don’t care to remember now.

  16. I recall telling people as long as eight years ago that that this would end in famine, if the disastrous economic policies of Chavismo were not reversed. I was told that I was being ridiculous and that this could not possibly happen in Venezuela– after all, Venezuela is a “rich country”.

    I wish I could take pleasure in my predictions being vindicated. Regrettably, all I can feel is sadness.

    • I can’t believe the people will just let that happen… I just can’t… Someone will have to do something. Come on, we are in 2015! All the world is watching this. Where the hell is Capriles? This is life or death!

  17. By reading some dramatic stories above, I’m pretty certain that if my mother was Venezuelan, she would already be dead by now. She had a very serious health problem and needed an expensive medicine called intravenous immunoglobulin, that is imported from the US. Without this treatment she would have died, we were told by the doctors. If people can’t even find paracetamol (according to Kepler’s blog), I doubt that we would have found such medicine there.

    Chavismo is literally killing people!

    • They’ve been killing people since BEFORE seizing power, from the coup in 1992.

      In their regime, the slaughter of civilians has been an unofficial policy from their very beginning, in 1998, proof of that is the absurd amount of murders every year.

      Yeah, the wax doll wanted ten millions, but he never said he wanted ten million homicides.

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