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. 2, on how to survive in Venezuela.
One of the biggest questions we ask ourselves, is how to deal with the highest inflation ever recorded and the health crisis that has killed many people because of a lack of drugs. Deciding whether to buy food or drugs is a common dilemma for Venezuelans. “If someone gets sick, we won’t be able to eat” is a common phrase since the prices of medicines are unbearable as most of the times people run out of money when acquiring them. Almost everyone in Venezuela receives an average salary of Bsf $2.5 million. If you need to by antibiotics the cost is around Bsf $12 million. It shows that an average salary doesn’t cover the cost of one simple medicine, and don’t the people need to eat to be healthy?
Nowadays Venezuela suffers from hyperinflation, which was at end of 2017 stood at 2,000%. According to studies it is expected to reach 10,000% in 2018, an index never recorded in the country. How is that possible? Well, the destruction of the private sector was in my opinion the first step Chávez’s government took to tear our economy apart. Expropriating private enterprises and taking productive lands by force was one of the measures that the “revolution” implemented with the argument that the poor would receive a part to empower the “lower social class.”
´One can’t hide what one doesn’t have´
So far, plenty of those lands are not producing anything, and the private enterprises that the government expropriated and gave to the people for work don’t exist anymore. The result? Scarcity of almost everything in the whole country. We cannot expect a proper production and a sustainable economy if most of the industries are not producing. “Economic war” is the argument the government is always going on about. An irrational explanation that charges the opposition is fighting the government by hiding resources. The fact is that no one can’t hide what one doesn’t have.
The result of that policy is the situation we are experiencing, in which getting sick seems to be the great monster that no one is ready to face. Not only is the lack of drugs a struggle, but also the fact that the majority of doctors have left the country in search of a better life abroad. So, the scarcity of professionals and labor force just worsens our crisis. Meanwhile, the country continues to sink into poverty and people’s sorrow increases. Families continue to separate and the sick continue to die or suffer uncertainty.
Uncertainty is one of the worst feelings a person can experience, but there is no other word to describe such a condition. You don’t know if you will be able to buy next week’s supplies, or if you will be able to endure this much longer. Few people have access to abundance, except the small group that supports the regime. In the meantime the rest of the people suffer the consequences of a terrible management that is leading our land into a pit.
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Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.