What is really happening in Venezuela just before shady elections?

Courtesy of J Dropped (Flickr)

The point of view of a young and frustrated entrepreneur

Article originally posted at ‘Es Cuestion de Leer’, my personal blog for thoughs and freelance projects.
Cover photo courtesy of J Dropped on Flickr.

There is no a simple explanation of what is going on in my country. For many of you out there, in the U.S. or Canada, or even further away, in Denmark or Australia, Venezuela isn’t more than another crazy dictatorship with tons of oil.

The now-defunct Chavez put us on the map with his populism and his threats against the U.S. government. First Bush, later Obama. He left a sick and rotten State functioning after his strange death. And now we all know that we were happy and we didn’t know it.

Since I have some capacity to understand politics, Chavez looked like a mentally unbalance ex-military to me. He spends a lot of time screaming on TV about the “enemies of the homeland”, transmitting a violent speech to everybody, mainly led to the younger watchers.

Thanks to that, we had a really divided country, where we, the detractors of the government, were the true enemies of the supporter ones. Many families were ripped apart. Entertainment and sports were affected too. Everything got infected with that hatred parasite.

Now the situation is quite different and plenty of people don’t know it. At least overseas.

Nicolas Maduro is just a puppet of bigger powers behind the socialist curtain. Diosdado Cabello, president of the congress, is the most corrupted and hated politician in the country. Even the State supporters hate him, because of his personality and highly violent speech. He has proven fortunes in and out of Venezuela. Also, the United States government has an open investigation on him due to supposed drug trafficking activities.

This 6th of December, the congress elections will take place, but there is no chance of winning for the opposition. At least not from my point of view and for several political observers. That’s easy to think when the National Electoral Council is widely and shamelessly supporting the actual government. Crazy, right?

Well, that’s the political overview. You aren’t here for that.

I will tell you how is to be 21 years old, having a degree, speak three languages, having work experience at plenty of areas and earn about USD 12,8 per month.

And that isn’t the worst part.

So, we are young and with nothing to lose… and with nothing to earn, either.

I work as the administrator of an engineering company, earning above the minimum wage. At the same job, I earn bonuses based on productivity. I usually perform well above the expected and receive the suggested bonuses.

After leaving the office, I work as a freelance writer for a handful of clients overseas. As a new freelance writer, they pay me pennies for my work. A shame. What I earn here is exclusively destined to a savings account that will be used when I leave the country next year (there’s still a hope).

Also, I eventually fix some computers and cellphones and get some extra Bolivares. Awesome.

There are months when I reach the Bs. 18.000 mark. For someone of my age, working as I do, is a lot. Now, the only accessible exchange rate is now at Bs. 780 per US Dollar. That’s earning approximately USD 23 per month.

Economically, the youth is screwed all the way. Friends of mine are living with their parents, even after marriage. They have 27 or 29 and still in their bedrooms. Sometimes with their partners and children. A below-decent rent can cost you about Bs. 12.000 per month outside the capital, Caracas. And purchasing an apartment or a house is a stupid, innocent and unreal thought.

A middle-class house with 70 square meters (m2), located in a dangerous neighborhood, can cost you Bs. 25.000.000. In that order, you need to save 100% of your monthly income, if you earn the minimum wage, for 3378 months straight, assuming there is a 0% inflation. 281 years to buy a middle-class home.

Cars have similar prices. For everything else, it’s the same story. Almost everything is grotesquely expensive and out of the reach of the “middle class” and everyone below it.

So, we are young and with nothing to lose… and with nothing to earn, either. Going to work is a torturing activity. Do not worth it.

There are no chances to start a business because you don’t have the required capital to do so and there is nothing to sell. Most industries are out of order. Completely broke, thanks to a corrupt exchange control were the State only sold Dollars to their own members. That happened when the oil barrel was above the USD 100 mark. Now below USD 40, you can imagine the situation.

No raw materials. Nothing.

But, I have to be honest: That isn’t the worst issue.

At the end of the day, we can be poor but we still desire to breathe.

Don’t get me wrong: I not happy with being broke. I’m still fighting against the financial situation like a pig in the slaughterhouse, but I grateful with being alive… and that’s the problem.

We had 24.980 violent deaths during 2014. That number represents 79 violent deaths per 100.000 citizens. 68,4 violent deaths on the daily basis.

Here you could be killed for having some money on your bank. They will use a gun or a knife, it doesn’t matter. You will not fight against them. No, you will collaborate with them because you appreciate your life.

It doesn’t matter. You will probably get kill anyways. Because violence in Venezuela is now a lifestyle. Society is now rotten to its core.

So, you saw a beautiful girl walking in the club? I hope you didn’t stare at her because there are high chances of her boyfriend being a criminal with the desire of putting a single bullet in your head or several in your guts.

You could think that I’m being overdramatic. In that case, you are wrong.

Our culture is now based on killings, gangs, drugs, and murders. It’s a case similar to the “Narco-culture’ that is living México with the cartels and their fans.

My friends and I stopped going out, even during the daylight. Too many friends have already lost their lives doing nothing wrong: taking a walk in a park, visiting a girlfriend or going to the movies. Every place has become a death trap.

And my president is talking about president Obama, the IMF, president Santos, the UN, Israel and anything with a trail of capitalism on it… “our bigger and deadlier enemies”.

The real enemy is within.

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