“When I was little, we were poor. My mom was a secretary and, on weekends, she sold coffee. She was a single mother of five kids. We never had toys. I remember I’d cut out all the models in the magazines and they were my paper dolls. But, even when things were really bad, we always had food on the table. Now I work, my daughter and her husband work, and we can barely feed the three kids in the house.”

In Venezuela, there’s no way to keep track of prices. Food and medicine can double up the price in a blink. Salaries are never enough for basic needs against a voracious inflation.

Rosa is 73 years old, but still works as a housekeeper with no prospects of retiring. Waiting at the drugstore, she needs medicines for her grandkid.

“She’s the baby of the house. She’ll be one year old in January, but she has been through a lot, born a little sick,” she says with tears in her eyes. Her daughter is a schoolteacher but spends most of the time taking care of her daughter. “It doesn’t matter how much we work, money is never enough. I’m not talking about luxuries, I mean the ‘oldest’ of the house only eats once a day, trying to save more for the children.”  

“We have the medicine” the drugstore manager says. “Three left, Bs.180,000 each.”

“I don’t have enough” Rosa says, leaving in a rush.

In some houses, like Mikaela’s, a 63 year old, the drama worsens by the minute and a good meal is a privilege.

Months ago, with Bs.100,000 you could buy enough food for a month. Now? That’s not even enough for a week. It’s a tragedy you can see in numbers.

“We don’t eat meat, just beans and vegetables. I miss a good arepa con jamón or a hot cafe con leche. I can’t buy ham or eggs. I have six children, all grown up, two live with me, and it breaks my heart that they have to go to bed with an empty stomach sometimes. We do the best we can, we have CLAP bags and some help from my oldest daughter, but if prices rise by Bs.5,000 or Bs.10,000 each week, that’s abusive. We can’t keep up.”

The future doesn’t look encouraging. With recent measures announced by Nicolás Maduro, a higher inflation (and default) is almost guaranteed. And the consequences are hitting the younger too.

For Luis, a 19-year-old student, the crisis is measured in sizes: “I’m like three sizes thinner, my mom’s around five. She tries to eat less, saying it’s more important that my brother and I eat.” He remembers that, when he was at school, his family was middle class. “You know, vacations now and then, video game consoles, new shoes at the beginning of the school year.”  

He sighs.

“Months ago, with Bs.100,000 you could buy enough food for a month. Now? That’s not even enough for a week. It’s a tragedy you can see in numbers.”

“All my money goes to medicines” says Alberto, a former PDVSA worker. “One for the heart was about Bs.10,000 at the beginning of the year, it’s now close to Bs. 200,000.”

Bitter acceptance colors his face.

“Soon I won’t be able to buy it.”

12 COMMENTS

  1. People hasn’t understood in Venezuela that just from the past year to this day, the average inflation rate has been above 1500%, which is, taking the price of any product the past year, and multiply it by 15 times.

    The purchasing should have been moving in the same way, but chavismo wants exactly to destroy the people’s economic power to have them subdued.

  2. The only government that I know of that survived hyperinflation was Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. But Venezuela has defied all logic since 2002 so I am not sure that even hyperinflation will be the doom of these criminals.

    Chavismo has shown that they are only competent at staying in power. They fail miserably in everything else. So they have unleashed the next biggest threat on themselves, hyperinflation which is the latest tsunami wave of the economic debacle they have put in motion.

    So if hyperinflation does not wipe them out, then failing oil production and thus their source of revenue will follow.

    I just wonder how far the despicable military will take it, they, as all of Venezuela, are sinking too.

    I wonder how is the CLAP fed chavista feeling? How has Chavismo worked for you? Are you still voting rojo-rojito?

  3. Kafka once wrote a parable about an starvation artist , a man who made a spectacle of his fasting , of his capacity to withstand prolongued hunger, in pursuit of public acclaim. Maybe the regime should want to promote this art , the art of starving oneself , thus it might give medals to people who can show that they havent eaten anything for 3 full days……we would become a country of accomplished fakirs ……!!

  4. It is hard to seem human talking about bonds and free markets, capitalism, investment, and economic policy in the face of human deprivation. But it is plainly evident that free market, capitalist republics bring undreamt of prosperity for the most people most of the time, while socialism has brought nothing but misery, starvation, imprisonment, and mass executions. This is not theoretical.

    When we talk, dressed in suits in air-conditioned conference rooms, we should keep stories like these in the front of our minds, talk harder, and faster, and not back down. Anyone who speaks against free markets and capitalism and democratic republics, will not do any business with me. Period.

    The story of the little girl cutting out pictures from magazines to have as her dolls breaks anyone’s heart … it would seem. And the story of the 19 year old who used to be middle class puts everything into perspective. But socialists have no heart and no perspective.

  5. “…We do the best we can, we have CLAP bags and some help from my oldest daughter, but if prices rise by Bs.5,000 or Bs.10,000 each week, that’s abusive. We can’t keep up.”
    “That’s abusive” here it is the main reason why Chavismo is still in power, the inflation is someone else fault. “It is caused by the economic war”, a message that is getting tattooed into people’s brains. And not all of them are poor or uneducated

  6. Yes, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe survived hyperinflation. But he survived by dollarizing the economy and agreeing to a unity government with the opposition. Will Maduro be flexible enough to do it? I think not. If you don’t know what ails the economy you can’t fix it. He believes in his own rhetoric about an “economic war” and the cure is more control, not less.

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