Photos: Rosender Evíes

Purchasing school supplies and uniforms is almost impossible for thousands of parents in Lara. Regardless of how basic a school list might be, the costs may reach up to ten minimum wages, which adds an extra load of despair to the daily emotional beating that Venezuelans suffer, particularly those who live in the most vulnerable sectors.

The school year just started, and the smell of new school supplies and uniforms didn’t reach the classrooms. For the 14,290 students at Fe y Alegría’s 18 schools in the Lara – Llano area, a solution was found: teacher Alexis Moreno, zone director for Fe y Alegría, said “Our schools won’t demand new materials and uniforms, parents may bring their children however they can.”

They’re the lucky ones. People have to walk all over Barquisimeto to find the cheapest prices, and María Vargas, mother of a child in school age, says she has gone to the same stores in the boulevard of Av. 20 in downtown Barquisimeto many times over.

“I’ve been trying to buy the list of materials for a month. I’m going to buy only what’s strictly necessary and what my budget can cover.”

School uniforms are a particular brand of suffering. Rafael Silva says that his son, who attends 5th grade, doesn’t have his uniform yet, and he doesn’t know if he’ll have it anytime soon.

“The pants cost me Bs.S. 360, the shirt is Bs.S. 220 and socks are Bs.S. 100. Let’s not count the price of shoes, because he’s going to wear the same ones he wore last year, I hope they’ll hold together.”

Zoraida Torrealba, who has a son attending 5th grade in western Barquisimeto, appealed to her neighbors’ solidarity: “A teacher gave us a notebook, a friend gave me a box of pencils and I hope to get one of the school backpacks the government is handing out.”

Many parents say they got the “school bonus” for Bs.S. 200 granted by the government through the Patria system, but they also say, like Mr. Silva, that it doesn’t cover the amount for supplies and uniforms. Yelitza Figueroa, an affected mother, explained with frustration that “with the bonus I only managed to buy a notebook, a pencil, a sharpener and an eraser. At least so my child can attend school the first days.”

School fairs typically used to offer affordable prices in comparison with stores, but this year they’re nowhere to be seen. Neither the Lara Governor’s Office, nor the Iribarren Mayor’s Office installed their traditional fairs in Plaza San José, Los Ilustres or the street near Teatro Juárez.

Store owners dedicated to selling school materials and uniforms point out that, compared to last year, business has been bad.

José González, owner of Librería España, in downtown Barquisimeto, says that people only ask. “Before, parents brought almost the entire list. Now they come and ask, and if prices are convenient, they buy something.” María Gutiérrez, who sells school backpacks, says that sales have been low, and that “we only sell backpacks for children in kindergarten.”

Meanwhile, the government has announced that they’ll hand over school backpacks and uniforms across the country to counter “the economic war.”

Nixon Arrieche, chief of Lara’s educational zone, says that out of the 289,484 children who start school this week, only those in priority areas will be getting their supplies, with students getting two uniforms, one for classes and another for physical education. This week, Lara governor Carmen Meléndez announced on her Twitter account the start of this handout process.

The long lists of school supplies and uniforms can’t be an impediment for children in our country to have the guarantee of their right to education and the humanitarian crisis that Venezuelan families are experiencing can’t be used as a political flag for authorities to save face either.

But we’re not optimistic about chavismo’s altruism.

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

17 COMMENTS

  1. My onitial response was “slow news day” story in Ve but I must say that the chart showing the staggering amount of inflation ompacting the price of school equipment was an eye popper. Wow. The solution is predictable. Send out the military goons to seize the supplies and distribute them. I have the awful realization that this would be an acceptable solution for most Venezuelans. Is that right? Please tell me I am wrong.

  2. These are the same lousy schools — and much worse – that created Chavez and Chavismo. Where Nicolasno went. Where massive ignorance and Chavismo grew. The same sub-par, pathetic “schools” that created Millions and Millions of zombie pueblo-people, Enchufados, Public employees today, former Chavistas to the bone. That’s what these lamentable “schools” created. Did they ever teach that Cuba is a miserable mess, that Populism is crap, that “socialism”, historically and geographically, is a LIE, or the most basic facts about the modern world? Obviously not.

    And they are even worse now, with underpaid Chavistoide teachers, hungry kids, full of “revolutionary” Cuban propaganda and more lies. Good luck with the new generations of under-educated, clueless, brain washed, highly corruptible little Indians being “educated” in such pathetic “schools”.

  3. That was my first thought anyway Bill. The school fair sellers didn’t bother to show up cause they didn’t want the sundae goons rolling back all their merchandise. And yes, el pueblo would be gleeful to see them come through and destroy everyone’s business. They just don’t see past today.

  4. The charts are excellent (albeit with several typos in red conversion Bs.F amounts). Hyperinflation decimating (actually, “thousandating”) purchasing power/basic education in Venezuela. If one wasn’t educated before, one can forget about being educated in the future…ideal for the Cubanization process.

  5. “Meanwhile, the government has announced that they’ll hand over school backpacks and uniforms across the country to counter “the economic war.”

    I wonder what they teach these poor kids in Guatire, Petare, Guarenas, Barlovento or Ciudad Bolivar.. That “El Gobielno Bolibarrriano” is kind enough to give them ‘revolutionary’ uniforms and anti-imperialistic backpacks for free? That they would be eating steak, arepas bien resueltas, and other delicious meals 3 times a day, except for the “economic war” that rages on against ‘el pueblo’ from foreign oppressors..

    That they must not forget their Calnet de la Patria Bolibanana to get bad Mexican powder milk or some Brazilian 80% water-juice. But only after they sing the Chavista Himno Nazional Rebolusionario in front of huge portraits of El Comandante Eterno, every morning before the brain-wash commences.

    That’s what these reports on CC should be about: substance. We all know people are broke, kids are hungry eating bad yuca and can’t get new shoes. But more importantly, what are they being taught buy the so-called Great Venezuelan Teachers? Even in the famous UCV, do they really learn anything? Obviously not much. They sure didn’t learn much decades ago as they participated in destroying such a rich and prosperous country, supporting Chavismo, ultimately becoming clueless, submissive zombies, leeches or enchufados everywhere, even in the infamous ‘glorioso sistema educativo bolivariano’..

    Poor kids and their 5th world clueless ‘teachers’, what do they know, anyway. Perhaps one day some ‘graduates’ will become ‘revolutionary’ doctors and nurses, or spies, just like in Cuba, ready to colonize Cubazuela II somewhere in the continent.

    • Well I can tell you that when Ryan was 5 years old, 6 years ago, he went to a regular primary school in Tinaquillo, estado Cojedes. That lasted exactly 2 weeks and 3 days. He had to learn to write and remember the names of all the general’s that fought along side Simon Bolivar. That and a whole bunch of other socialist BS. We took him out of that school and taught him at home until I was able to get them the hell out of VZ little over 3 years ago. Let’s be honest socialism doesn’t want educated people, they need dumb slaves that are easily manipulated.

  6. I think the most valuable info us CC regulars glean here is from the experiences of people living the Venezuelan nightmare today, and those that have family members still living the nightmare, and those who escaped the nightmare, and those who have family members who escaped the nightmare.

    When my nieces (both sisters) and their families got their asses to Miami two years ago, it was definitely the most profound, impactful and emotional experience of my life. I knew the girls since 1988, and here they are now, as adults. And not even very young adults at that.

    My wife then gathered up school supplies for my grand nephew (now 14) that we had buried around the house. Dozens of crispy clean, brand-new notebooks. Unopened boxes and boxes of brand-new pens, pencils, crayons, who knows what the fuck else. Maybe just a hundred report folders, covers and binders. Only a few dozen large sheets of oak tag/poster board. Plus I can’t count count how many bottles of glue, how many pairs of scissors, how many BOOKS, albeit in English.

    Now, I’m a cynical bastard…how could I not be after dealing with shmucks like Canucklehead here…and I just didn’t understand what the “big deal” was and why she was bringing all of this “junk” to Kevin.

    I might have told this story before.

    That kid opened those boxes and it was like they were filled with gold or porno magazines. I never experienced such an appreciation for “nothing,” something that is so commonplace and expected in the first world.

    They’re all coming over tomorrow for a big barbecue at my house, and I don’t care if I’m remembered by him as Crabby Tio Ira for always bitching about Chavismo.

    Besides pernil, lobster, steaks, burgers, hot dogs, sausage, and more tomorrow…

    My hatred for Chavismo is the best thing I can leave him with after I’m dead, and the best lesson I can give him.

  7. “My hatred for Chavismo is the best thing I can leave him with after I’m dead, and the best lesson I can give him”

    Hopefully that will be soon

    • Wow. I have seen lots of insults thrown back and forth on these comment threads but I don’t think I have seen a comment wishing death to another commenter. The ordinary everyday insults are one thing but this is something else entirely. I hope the person who posted it will reconsider before posting similar messages.

  8. concerning the chart, where does the 111% over minimum wage come from? 7,380 BS (better abbreviation for the soberano) is 4 times the minimum wage, not just barely twice as much.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here