Photo: OVCS

José Ibarra, a 41-year-old teacher, can’t afford to buy deodorant, much less a new pair of shoes.

“I spend everything in food. And not a full month’s purchase, just enough to survive.”

José went trending on June 29 when he posted his worn out shoes on Twitter.

“I’m not ashamed of saying it,” he wrote, “with these shoes, I go to the #UCV to teach, as a university professor, what I earn isn’t enough for me to change the soles because that’s about twenty million.”

I spend everything in food. And not a full month’s purchase, just enough to survive.

He’s been an university professor for ten years in the country’s first campus. His last paycheck (June) was five million bolivars, less than two dollars and without his family’s help, he would’ve been unable to buy a chicken and vegetables (20 million bolivars).

Ibarra has a Higher Technician’s Degree in Social Work from the University College of Caracas. He graduated as a Social Worker at the UCV, he’s a specialist in Management of Research and Development Projects with a Master’s Degree on Research and Development Management, and he’s currently doing a doctorate on Public Health at UCV’s Medical School. With this curriculum, he still doesn’t earn enough for a movie ticket.

Fleeing poor salaries

Gregorio Alfonzo, secretary of the Central University’s Professors Association (APUCV) said earlier this year that, between 2009 and 2015, 1,122 teachers had quit their posts in the institution, in view of their diminishing salaries and the lack of supplies, since that makes it almost impossible to teach in several specialties (not to mention the loss of political and economic liberties).

He also said that 1,400 teachers have left between 2016 and 2017 alone, either resigning or requesting unpaid leaves. He didn’t say the current figure but, according to the councils of each school, he estimated an average of six weekly resignations.

José Ibarra still doesn’t plan on submitting his resignation. “I love what I do. I didn’t want to teach, but studying and later graduating, I realized the value of this profession. I serve my students, the future generation.”

Between 2009 and 2015, 1,122 teachers had quit their posts.

He spends a million bolivars a month just in bus fare from La Guaira to Caracas. Often, money isn’t enough for public transportation and if the subway is heavily delayed, he walks from Sucre avenue to Capitolio, three kilometers in 38 minutes. When he’s done with class, he has to walk to Gato Negro from the UCV, eight kilometers for over an hour. This is without mentioning the time he has to wait for a bus to arrive.

He leaves the university between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., and gets home at 9:00 p.m., smashed with exhaustion. With cash for the bus and many vehicles at the bus stop, he’d spend no more than 40 minutes to get home.

The issue of public transport has restricted his search for odd jobs. “I have to do as much as I can, teaching, consultancy, thesis tutorships, workshops. I don’t have enough time, but if I don’t do this, I won’t survive. I never thought a teacher would reach these extremes where he can’t even buy detergent to wash his clothes.”

In 2010, he managed to save part of his wages to buy a house. In 2013, he tried to do the same and buy a car, but couldn’t. It’s been five years since he travelled in Venezuela. Last year, he was invited to Peru for some workshops. Obviously, all expenses fully paid.

“Seven or eight years ago, I took a trip to Los Roques for Bs. 128,000, paid with my salary. Today, this situation is crushing my dignity.”

After his famous tweet, he started getting calls from everywhere Venezuelans are, to donate shoes and other items. Some of the shoes he got weren’t his size, so he gave them to other teachers who also struggle. At the time, there was also an image trending, with chavista leader Jorge Rodríguez’s costly shoes (about $795) making the rounds.

He spends a million bolivars a month just in bus fare from La Guaira to Caracas.

People identified with Ibarra’s need “and now I’m an inspiration for other teachers in the country. They’ve called me from Barquisimeto and Mérida, because I dared say what nobody else wanted to. I showed my shoes. I was pretty discouraged and now I’m in the fight to recover my country, knowing there’s people who want to join in. We have to recover our dignity.”

Ibarra hopes that, on the next paycheck, he gets the raise that will put him at Bs. 22,000,000 monthly, about $6 (still would be next to nothing compared to the price of the food basket).

“In Venezuela, the military boot was stronger than a doctor or a teacher. We’re the worst paid. We eat vegetables, proteins are a luxury, we use cheaper personal hygiene products. Since I can’t afford to travel, I have to enjoy the Ávila and public squares. I don’t know what else they’re going to take from us.”

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18 COMMENTS

  1. I have never seen such stupidity. Why don’t they all stop working at once? They prefer humiliation. After seeing the cowardice of the Madburro followers during yesterday pantomime, I’m not surprised those teachers don’t fight back. Humiliation and submission have a limit too. How much far down-below can these Venezuelan go? How much the salary? BsF 5 million? Maybe when they get BsS 5 they mightily react. Too late compadre.

      • Ulamog, How do you do with around 1 or 2 dollars a MONTH?

        If you’re rich and connected, no problem

        If you’re a cockroach you eat anything

        • A month, people scrounge in Venezuela eating only a handful of carbs and barely anything above zero regarding proteins.

          Have you considered why the FUCK people in general in the damn country has lost an average of 15 fucking kilos since 2017? That’s the reason, because people at large is being fucking STARVED TO DEATH.

          People getting remittance money? Those are still a minority.

          En Venezuela la gente NUNCA sale a protestar sola, salen y forman peo cuando tienen a alguien que los atize para eso porque eso les dice que “no van a ser unos locos pegando gritos que estarán SOLOS”, el “pueblo arrecho del cara-de-mierdazo-27-F” es un MITO.

          Mientras no haya quien le ponga liderazgo a las protestas, la mayoría seguirá aguantando los coñazos hasta que vean que realmente están sin más que polvo en la despensa.

      • People will avoid violence at any cost, the myth of the “pueblo arrecho that by itself went to burn Caracas in the 27-F” crumbled into ashes many years ago, only that people still tries to reject the truth:

        That the “pueblo arrecho” only went down to destroy everything because they were LED by armed malandros that killed everyone that dared to stand in their way.

        Curiously, that part is left completely out from 90% of the retellings and recounts of those events, including the reports and articles in this site.

  2. The Cuban-successful-model , boiling frog effect has worked wonders in Venezuela, coupled with a generally-corrupt/incompetent/complicit Oppo leadership. In the early 1950’s, maybe 2/10 Venezuelans were still wearing alpargatas, with handwoven fabric tops, often tire inner-tube rubber soles; now, they can’t even afford alpargatas, much less with leather soles, since inner-tubes aren’t used anymore. The post-War Venezuelan oil boom boosted wages from bs. 2/da. to 8/da. (about $2.40) overnight, which, coupled with large WWII/post-immigration, and massive PJ public works projects, gave Venezuela an enviable boost up economically. Now, a monthly minimum wage is less than the hourly wage of 70 years ago, and only a small fraction of same in buying power when factoring in inflation over the last 70 years. Those educated Venezuelans staying in the Country trying to make it better are literally heroes. Many of their sons/daughters tried to protest for change, but were betrayed by the Oppo leadership. The vast D-E socio-economic (80+%) classes never rose up, but remained cowering in their misery, as well-calculated by their Cuban puppet masters. The Ven. military, infiltrated by the Left starting with Caldera’s “pacification”, and bought off by enormous drug/contraband transit fees, is thoroughly corrupted. A general lasting strike might well work, but goes against the grain of the typical Venezuelan “Me first, Que los demas se jodan” psychology; besides, when most are already starving/near-starvation, how long can a general strike last before caving in? The hope is that the recent “drone” attempt is the first crack in the dike (11 journalists’ video/other evidence wasn’t confiscated because “there wasn’t anything there”, Ula dixit). The general situation is so miserably bad that it has to be seen to be believed, can only be compared in this Hemisphere perhaps to what happened to Cuba, and is literally following the same script, with neighboring countries (Colombia, first) at great risk in the future….

    • In Venezuela, the “boiling frog” bullshit is more like putting a bullet in the head of anyone who dared to protest against the “rebolusión”

      • Today yes, as the water is now boiling, but
        10 years ago the water was cool and fresh…
        5 years ago tropically warm, and
        2 years ago a nightly sauna
        but back then YOU COULD PROTEST with only a slim chance of a bullet.

  3. This applies to EVERY paid professional (except the chabizta garbage) in Venezuela, work has become worthless in that country.

  4. In the immortal words of The Old Man on the Mountain, sage and philosopher for the ages “What goes around comes around.” If Venezuelan school instructors are as enamored with socialism/communism as in the US they’ve been extolling the virtues of these economic pipe dreams and condemning capitalism. Also from the mountain: 1) You reap what you’ve sewn; and 2) Karma.

  5. Another article on poorly paid teachers. Tomorrow, another poorly paid medical worker?
    It is tiresome, and quick frankly journalistically lazy.
    Why? Why?
    Where are the articles
    1. of the store owners being squeezed by fees, regulation, monetary changes?
    2. of a farmer and what his problems are in growing, processing, harvesting.
    3. of a truck Driver and his journey from farm to the city, or from a commerical plant to the store level.
    There are thousands of interesting subjects, that highlight the SAME daily struggle but totally different plights in all WORKS of life that allow the reader to learn something new.
    But again those poor damn teachers. Usually government paid, idealistic, and insulated to what actually works, that is the creation of wealth.
    By the way, what the hell have they been teaching these last 15 years? The results suggest Chavista propaganda. Certainly not an open-minded inquisitive generation.

    As well, in all these stories of hardship! Why not ask interesting, informative, thought provoking, questions? Like….
    1. What are your thoughts on the price controls (or simply maybe, what do you think of the govt wish to set the price of eggs)
    2. What did you think of Chavez, or Maduro, or the “old system” pre Chavez.
    3. Have you ever protested? when, where, for what.
    4. have you ever been stopped by the police, and why?
    5. What are 2 reasons why the situation we are now in, occurred.
    6. How much do you pay for petro, gas, electricity? Do you realize that you pay less than every other person in the world by 50 times!! Rich Nations, poor Nations. Is that fair? Why?
    I can go on and on.

  6. “Higher Technician’s Degree in Social Work”

    Social Work uhh?

    Karma maybe? always relevant to bring it up in these kinds of articles.

    http://www.venezuelavetada.com/2011/04/manifiesto-de-bienvenida-fidel-castro.html

    Academics are one of the sectors of the population that deserve all the karma they get, professors were all lefttists. I can almost forgive marginals and ignorant barrio people for being so blind but Professors? fuck em, they spent decades studying what they were doing, they taught marxism now they get to EAT IT.

    Lets see, CC have done like 20 articles already crying about poor malandros that get killed, poor poor malandros deserve human rights, like one million articles about poor poor marxist professors not being able to eat because this is not true socialism. I get this site has a bias. How about innocent hard working people being expropiated, killed for their goods by those malandros? uh? nothing? In front of my house i`ve seen about 10 muggins in the last few years. I`ve seen family men being shot because malandros wanted to steal their cars or cellphones. My best frined was shot for that reason

    how about kidnappings? arent those human rights violations? NAAH because CC doesn`t give a fuck about the human rights of burguesitos, they only work for the “muh true socialism” cause

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