Views from Venezuela – Children roaming the streets

Jose Luis Ramirez, 28, lives in San Felipe, Yaracuy, Venezuela. Every week he tells about his life in Venezuela, in this exclusive Chile Today column. Today no. 5, about the increasing amount of homeless children.

As the scarcity in Venezuela deepens, more people appear on the streets, knocking on people’s doors, asking for everything from food to other supplies like clothes, or even an old pair of shoes. It is impressive how many young people and children dedicate their time to panhandling. That’s the result of the lack of possibilities for many of them to find a job, or to have a proper care within their families. For many, their only choice is begging for food.

There have always been people living in that situation. Poverty and homelessness are problems that have always been present in every society around the world. The difference is that due to the crisis, more Venezuelans are living in precarity. According to a study by the Non-Governmental Organization Casas Don Bosco, in one year the index of children living in the streets increased from 40% to 42% only in capital Caracas.

Moreover, the average age for children in that situation is between 11 and 12 years. In 2009, the average was between 14 and 15. That shows how children are put out of their houses or decide to leave their homes at an early age because they can’t have proper food or education at home. Those children are exposed to drugs, delinquency and prostitution. We can see young people and even children knocking at doors every single day, with the hope of finding someone who can offer them food.

´A simple stroll represents a big danger of getting robbed´

Another problem that has increased is insecurity. Nowadays, no one can feel safe outside. I remember that few years ago, walking on the streets was so much safer than it is today. A simple stroll represents a big danger of getting robbed. When you go outside, you notice the difference. Not too long ago, the streets used to be full of people walking back home, or just having a good time relaxing with friends. Now, everybody is afraid to the get robbed or even worse, to get killed as the violence is out of control. The streets are empty now.

Where is the police? It is a very big problem to find a police officer in Venezuela. It seems the country is lawless. The latest analysis about criminality in Venezuela showed that there were around 26,616 homicides during 2017. That number placed Venezuela as the country with the highest index of homicides in all of Latin-America.

The question is what can we expect of the future that children represent seems to vanish everyday on the streets? They should be at school instead of roaming, which is dangerous as they could be abused or fall into criminality. The base of any society is its capacity to form the new generations in a certain way, that young people can be able to undertake new professional challenges. So the future development of the society is in the hands of the children and the young. But what kind of generation is Venezuela raising?

Missed last weeks Views from Venezuela? Read it here:

Views from Venezuela – We are going backwards

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