“About a year ago, I realized I could make more from reselling a single packet of diapers than cleaning an entire house,” Laura said. She asked that her last name not be published since she is, in effect, part of a criminal network. (It’s illegal to sell some staples above official prices and the government sporadically cracks down on the practice.)
The term bachaquero, coined after leaf cutter ants (bachacos) that carry many times their weight on their backs, was first applied to smugglers along Venezuela’s western border years ago. Now it is a word heard everywhere. The Caracas polling firm Datanalisis says more than one-fourth of the population has engaged in the practice over the past year.
Rosati’s piece brings to light how difficult and precarious the job of bachaquero really is. Getting up at 2 am, standing in line, being hustled yourself, not being able to share your name … that sucks, no matter how much Laura spins it.
It’s also not how you build a modern society. People like Laura might be making a killing from time to time thanks to their hustling, but she, like the rest of the country, will soon face a day of reckoning.
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