Views from Venezuela – The elderly’s claim

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. 9, about the elderly’s claim.

The decadence into which all of Venezuela’s institutions have fallen is terrible. A clear example are the banking and social security systems. Most old people gave the country their youth and strength, but are suffering now as they aren’t able to rest at home. Quite the opposite, they suffer the uncertainty of not having a pension that is enough to get food and drugs. They receive a pension that is below the minimum wage. In addition, they have to go to the bank almost every day, because the cash is very difficult to find. So like the rest of the population, the elderly have to endure long queues – often standing in scorching heat.

The minimum wage is nowadays around Bsf $2.5 million which is about US$ 75 cent. But the old people receive a pension of around Bsf $1.4 million. So if it’s very difficult for anyone to acquire every supply, for the old it is even harder. A month’s minimum wage currently buys just half a kilo of meat. So what can our elderly acquire? What if they get sick?

If you go to an ATM, the machine only provides you between BSF $20.000 and 40.000, which serves you for one or two taxi rides downtown

Another problem is the cash. If you go to an ATM, the machine only provides you between BSF $20.000 and 40.000, which serves you for one or two taxi rides downtown. At the bank counter, you receive maximum Bsf $100.000. That’s why Venezuelan banks are crowded every single day. People need cash because electronic payment methods are not available for everyone. As a result, many people are growing a business with cash. They sell it for sometimes three-times of the original value. Incredible isn’t it?

In addition, almost every shop sells things with one price in electronic funds transfer EFT, and with another price in cash. That’s to force people to look for the cash. But at the same time, cash is very expensive, so we have to make the numbers before taking a decision about how to make a simple trade. At this point, you can go out at night or at the early morning, and you will probably see many people outside banks, waiting for their turn. But most of them would be old people, the ones who should be getting rest after a whole life of great effort and work.

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