The “do-it-if-you-can-afford-it-if-not-just-hang-in-there” strike

Yesterday's Paro Nacional Ciudadano got mixed reviews. Fears of wage increase-related layoffs and quincena Friday definitely played against a full-on stoppage.

Yesterday’s form of protest saw mixed results. In the morning, some avenues of Caracas were almost empty, but after the day progressed things started to go to normal. In my city, Puerto Ordaz, the effect was minimal. You could see some businesses closed but that’s about it.

The companies that are struggling to meet the government’s crazy demands (most recently, another minimum wage raise) had to stop producing for one day to support the opposition. What a crazy economy, no wonder we don’t attract any foreign investment.

That’s probably why this strike was targeted at citizens, and not the companies itself, but the effect was almost the same. Some people just cannot afford to miss a day of work, and no amount of political rhetoric will change that. Yes, Guanipa, we know these are the labor pains before the childbirth of the new Venezuela (ugh), still people won’t starve if they don’t have to.

To make things even worse, for some, yesterday was payday, so even those that could afford to strike didn’t have the incentives to do so. Some others worked from home so they could reduce the losses. A friend of mine wanted to strike, but after the recent mandatory minimum wage raise, she’s afraid the company will have to lay her off. To diminish that possibility, she tries to be the best at her job so…ni de vaina is she missing a day of work.

Even if the plan was weak from the beginning, it certainly did not stop government auditors from making do on their promises to harass and intimidate businesses throughout the day. We received several reports of offices being visited by Superintendencia de Precios Justos officers (check out the website, its positively soviet), who would demand to know how many employees were on payroll and how many had showed up to work.

This little rat of a journalist helpfully covered the proceedings. Feel free to troll her.

The MUD is talking about 50% compliance and calling the strike a success. Was it? It doesn’t feel like it, but I don’t see any way this could’ve be done better. This form of protest can only work so much in our current situation, even if the execution is great. Pictures of hundreds of thousands on the street are much sexier than…pictures of people at home not working.

And at least it kind of helped to keep some of the momentum from the previous marches going. Let’s see how this thing escalates until November 3rd.

Carlos Hernández

Ciudad Guayana economist moonlighting as the keyboardist of a progressive power metal band. Carlos knows how to play Truco. 4 8 15 16 23 42