Photo: ALDECAstudio retrieved

Ditching the old tires of his sedan for brand new wheels, with a high-end new cellphone and new glasses. That’s how Mario Pérez Chacín started his 2018 in Venezuela, the only country in the world currently suffering hyperinflation. With his journalist wage, based on the last wage hike decreed by Nicolás Maduro (just about a dollar a month), Mario would’ve had to work over 17 years to acquire these basic goods.

He’s not an enchufado, he’s not Cilia Flores’s nephew or Diosdado Cabello’s son-in-law. He’s got a different secret.

It’s a social network called Steemit that pays its users for the time they spend in it, either posting, sharing, voting or commenting. When he signed up in late 2017, the first posts Mario saw were made precisely by Venezuelans, all thanking Steemit for the year it gave them, adding how their lives saw financial improvement just by sharing pictures, personal experiences, cooking recipes or poems.

“Back then, I was forced to drive a taxi due to the economic situation” says this father of three. “One day, right when I was wrapping up my eight-hour workday, a friend of mine asked me for a ride and I was close to his location. When he got in, amidst the updates on what we were doing in the context of this country in December, he told me: ‘Mario, you’d do well writing for Steemit: you’re a photographer and you surely have stories to tell behind each picture, and you could get paid in cryptocurrencies doing that.’ I replied like you’d expect: ‘Crypto-what?!’”

It’s a social network called Steemit that pays its users for the time they spend in it, either posting, sharing, voting or commenting.

The first thing Mario did while understanding how the platform worked, was dusting off some pictures he’d taken over the years, to organize and post them.

“I started writing on this social network in December 2017 and, by January, I could see I was earning more per week  than what I earned at my former job in a month, where I worked for 15 years.”

His daily routine has completely changed: “I must dedicate extra time to it at night and on weekends, to at least guarantee three to four weekly publications. As soon as my children or my wife are free, I sit in front of the computer to write and select pictures.”

Alright cool, but why and how do they pay you?

Both questions go hand in hand. The why is simple: Steemit is a social network whose main goal is to increase the reputation for its two cryptocurrencies. Since their value depends on supply and demand, their creators thought of a way to merge Facebook with Blogger (in 2016) to attract people willing to use this mechanism to earn foreign currency.

Which cryptos are those? Steem Dollar and Steem.

In order to exchange them for bolivars, there are dozens of exchanges that have built their business around the purchase and sale of those currencies, since they can be exchanged for Bitcoin. An operator from Cambio, Steemit’s biggest Spanish exchange community, tells me he makes between 100 and 200 operations a day on average.

These transactions mostly come from Venezuelans who try to navigate the crisis with this miraculous option.

These transactions mostly come from Venezuelans who try to navigate the crisis with this miraculous option.

According to the operator, “the value of these altcoins is mainly based on how much they’re worth compared to Bitcoin” which, by May 21, was $2.23 per Steem Dollar and $2.97 per Steem.

“We estimate the value in bolivars based on dollar prices in Venezuela, which vary due to the great demand.”

Even though by the time I wrote this article, the value of these cryptocurrencies is below $3, sources point out that “The highest value the Steem Dollar has reached was $27.31 on July 18, 2016, only ten days after its launch. The next day, on July 19, 2016, it went down to $1.53.”

After that, it reached $16.4 on December 7, 2017, but starting 2018, its value hasn’t broken the $10 mark. This means that it’s not profitable to keep an account as a main source of income in a country with a stable economy. But it’s profitable in poor countries like India, Haiti or Venezuela, where most of their users are from.

However, although generating revenue with Steemit is relatively easy, there are no fixed fees and earnings depend on how many votes each post gets or who votes them, since there are people called “curators” whose vote could be worth as much as 20 Steem Dollars (while votes from new members are worth, at best $0.003 Steem Dollars).

This is why some can produce money fast, like Mario, or get discouraged in a week.

Jeanfreddy Gutiérrez, a social media expert, explains that this happens “because we’re good at starting projects, but we’re not very constant. We expect quick and large earnings with minimum effort. I also want a job that pays well, with little work and never on a weekend, with a Google slide and shares in Facebook, but most jobs aren’t like that. We’ve got to have long-term vision, just like someone who opens a bakery or a furniture store, knowing that after overcoming ups and downs, we can learn about the business enough as to endure.”

This is why some can produce money fast, like Mario, or get discouraged in a week.

Gutiérrez says: “I confess I was overconfident when I joined. Sharing content, making it more or less viral and position myself was something I’d learned in Blogger, Facebook and Twitter. But it turns out the hierarchies of Twitter and Facebook aren’t transferrable to Steemit. If you’re famous in the former, you come in here and you don’t have hundreds or thousands of followers just because you announce yourself on the other networks.”

Many Venezuelans agree with Gutiérrez that the secret lies in dedication, and interaction on the platform is in your best interest.

Liseth Freitas, another user, still can’t believe “that a social network allows you to meet people, share information and also earn money.”

Freitas, who works as an assistant for commercial campaigns in Sun Channel, earning a bit more than minimum wage, says that with Steemit she’s earning somewhere between three and four times more in a month than with her actual job.

“Recently my mom required a surgery due to a broken femur and hip, and thanks to Steemit I could cover part of the expenses” she says. “I’m still paying for the medicines with money I earned with my posts.”

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. “Iranian President Hasan Rohani called Venezuela’s presidential election “successful, calm and healthy,” and congratulated Nicolas Maduro on his re-election.

    In a congratulatory message to Maduro, Rohaní said that the presidential celebrations were “a great success and a victory for the government and people of Venezuela” since “they were carried out under the shadow of economic sanctions and the threat of foreign powers, “the Etelaat newspaper reported today.”

    It is understandable why the Iranians are happy to see Maduro maintain power. The regime’s destruction of PDVSA has contributed to the rise in oil prices while Iran has been increasing production.

    The like minded tyrants that oppress their respective citizens and support other tyrants throughout the world a soul mates. My grandmother used to say “Birds of a feather, flock together.”

      • I haven’t paid attention to the official exchange rate but it is always much lower than the black market.
        Al-Asssami saying that the exchange houses are an attempt to stop counterfeit currency is laughable. Not worth the paper it is printed on describes the Bolivar. None would be stupid enough to counterfeit Bolivars. Monopoly money would be easier to produce and it is worth more.
        The regime probably figures that if some people are stupid enough to support the regime, they may fall for the exchange house rates also.

        • The exchange rate for enchufados is 10 Bs / $, while the black market is for everybody who isn’t an enchufado scum.

          They’re trying to control the remittances now by ordering the banks to block and reverse any transfers that exceed 10 or 20 million bolivars (For the record, a kilo of grinded meat costs about 3,5 million Bs and a gallon of mayonaise costs like 12 million) if said transfers are directed towards “savings accounts” (one type of bank account that pays interests) while the “current” accounts (another kind of account that) takes forever to be opened in a bank these days.

          In short, they’re sabotaging the whole bank and payment system to stop people from doing anything at all but to sit and wait for the death.

          • I don’t mean to make light of the situation, but “a gallon of mayonnaise”??? That’s a LOT of mayonnaise.

            El Salami wants his fair share of those remittances. 90-95% or so sounds about right, especially if he has to share the booty with the other insiders. You get to keep your 5-10%. Be thankful they don’t take the entire 100%. I keep reading on this and other sites that the ex-pat relatives will keeping sending the $$, even if the intended recipients only get a fraction of the value, so I would expect the controllers to take advantage of those willing to send it to them.

          • I might be mistaken, but I guess a gallon of mayo equals to 5 kilos, mayonnaise is usually sold in half or one kilo pots, which cost now, one and 1,8 million Bs respectively.

            I simply named the mayo to put the example with something that every Pedro Pérez should be able to afford.

            So yeah, the regime wants to take everything away because their goal is to keep people sunken in poverty.

            The dollar in the black market is nearing 1,3 million Bs / $, while the “dicom” rate (The fake official rate for non-enchufados) is allegedly at 80.000 Bs/$.

            So yeah, they want to take about 95% of the money and let people have barely 5% of what they earn.

            PS: Ah, and before someone comes claiming that “people can resort to clap boxes”, happy 2015! Because the “clap boxes” that once had 12 kilos of carbs and were sold at the “subsidized price” of 25.000 Bs past year every month were downgraded to “clap bags” that contain less than half of the contents and are sold at a “regalado price” of 700.000 Bs, once every two months.

            Where’s the rest of the “subsidized food” you might ask? Obviously, it’s in the greasy paws of the scourge known as BACHAQUEROS, where did you think they were getting their products from?

        • “the black market”
          That’s funny. In other countries with currency controls, everyone says “free rate.”

          • That’s interesting, Jones, can you name those countries and the exact way those “currency controls” are applied with examples and how they compare with the situation in Venezuela?

            Because your comment sounds an awful lot like the “you’re getting the products delivered with a smile at your doorstep so you should quit whining about it” rubbish someone spewed on a post some time ago defending the bachaquero garbage at that time.

          • “Because your comment sounds an awful lot like the “you’re getting the products delivered with a smile at your doorstep so you should quit whining about it” rubbish someone spewed on a post some time ago defending the bachaquero garbage at that time.”

            Just WOW! Who said any of that?

            The term “black market” has a negative connotation related to smuggling and rationing. “Free rate” as used in the former eastern block, etc, draws a distinction from repressive official rates of centrally planned command economies. Maybe read a little more.

          • The use of the term “black market”, as defined, is correct in Venezuela’s case. There’s even a law which explicitly forbids taking about it.

            So there’s nothing “funny” about it, for Venezuela’s currency control is way different than any other country with said controls.

            Maybe it is you who should read a little more, Davy.

          • Jones, last time I checked, there was absolutely no law that forces private businesses to give for free their merchandise to the gubmint to feed the state-backed mafias in any capitalist country.

            The bachaqueo cancer wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t because the regime keeps attacking legal and actual businesses to steal their work.

          • Also, Jones, thanks to the MUD garbage double agents, many opposition people in Venezuela happily incorporated every chaveco insult into their vocabulary, such as calling themselves “escuálidos” or “sifrinos”, or hell, here in CC where you see people using the “crazy Cafetal granny” insult.

          • And part of that “neo language” is defending the bchaquero manure, calling it “capitalism” or stating that those are “poor people trying to make end’s meet, but no way at all that’s controlled by the regime”

    • Remember that if cryptocurrency is to be exchanged for hard currency, someone needs to be on the other side of the trade. But why would someone want to buy Steem? The “killer app” for Bitcoin was illegal transactions such as drugs on the Silk Road marketplace, I wonder what it is for Steem.

    • MRubio
      I tried calling early this morning with the hope that it might go through if the system wasn’t as busy.
      The phone rang, a lady’s voice came on with a message in Spanish, that I didn’t understand and then the phone continued to ring.
      Anyway, please let Crystal’s mother know that I have ordered the protein powder and supplement for kidney patients with the vitamin D through Amazon with delivery directly to Maria. The protein is French Vanilla. Vicky’s message said no chocolate flavor. If Crystal likes it, I will send more of the same. Her mother thought the supplement would work in place of the Zemplar. I sent a 30 day supply. If the doctor says it is acceptable, more will follow. The supplement is also a multivitamin. Hopefully, 2 birds with 1 stone.
      I will be sending other supplies from NY to Miami for shipping. I will have Maria expedite them airfreight and can only hope that they reach you ASAP. Please confirm that you saw this message. Otherwise I will have Vicky try to contact someone in your circle.
      As always, Best of luck my friend and prayers for Crystal and your family.

  2. OT: the regime unsuccesfully tried to hijack the news cycle and change narrative with release of Cilia’s prisoners Joshua Holt and spouse. Holt was taken in exchange for nephews and concessions on sanctions. This is what Lacava, Caleb, Shannon, Zapatero, Delcy, et al where working on. Reality was that narco nephews not open to negotiation and recent situation with Holt, fraudulent election, Shannon retirement, and other factors saw the release of Holt. Nothing was given. The Reds briefly hijacked news cycle, Shannon got his swan song and the Holts obtained their freedom. Corker played el pendejo while Hatch and Love rejoiced.



    PLEASE READ “A COUNTRY RULED BY THIEVES” I’m so sorry but with many sharing the same boat it’s hard to ignore it, as if it wasn’t happening. Unfortunately, Anatoly Kurmanaev has been reassigned to another country. The question is this: who is in the 10%, which is probably the 5%? And those are still squeezing the dry fruit of evil until that last drop of juice is also stolen. The remaining 95% are not people, they are either zombies or so miserable they can’t even use their brains. What their defenders will call a ”peculiar” economy. I promise I won’t discuss this ever again (Si no pueden leer el artículo completo me avisan).



  4. Senator Corker, DPRK may soon represent existential threat for the U.S. because they have…..intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles!

  5. Things are not always what they seem and this hostage release was no different. The Venezuelan regime showed fear for possibly the first time and not the last.

  6. Wow, Braulio, this fruitcake article sure brought out the low-hanging fruit. CC really is scraping the bottom of the barrel with this. I suggest for the future a flashing insert that says, “Click on this to avoid this ad in 5..4..3..etc. seconds.

    • Agreed – It time to watch out for some low hanging plantains. Nothing in this articles – except how increase the Entropy (dark energy ) of the universe – I much prefer to read Stephen Hawkins to this type shit. Maybe you cover the murder rate of huckster in Caracas on daily basis.

  7. I am not a journalist, bot I am marc, I worked for it, And I will try, a nd protect honey, maybe I got flamingoes,


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