I have had the opportunity to talk with people from other countries that only see really impacting headlines about the situation here, for instance: we don’t have medicines, food, the inflation is ridiculous, etc., so they cannot see how life is even possible like this. I’m so used to it that I don’t think about the difficulty to understand it.
Some people has approached me with the wrong idea of that it’s hard to find a job over here. You’ll see, it’s true that there isn’t the same amount of job offers that there used to be, but, the people hiring overweight the people wanting to work for the minimum wage. Why? Because having those jobs doesn’t quite make sense now.
The true is more complex than what an article can describe, you cannot insolate one aspect and pretend to understand the situation of the population as a whole. Yes, there are common factors affecting all of us, no matter the position, but everyone has a different immediate problem and each one face it the best they can with the most convenient solution at the moment. In other words, living here doesn’t make me an expert on the subject, to really understand what’s going on, you’ll need a master class from a senior economist, a nutritionist with experience on treating people without a treatment, a person with a wide knowledge on international politics, and maybe a couple of professionals more that I might not have a clue of how essential they are. What I can give you is a picture, and I’m not a photographer, numbers are my thing.
I love numbers because they are solid, they tell facts, and if you are as crazy as me, they will give you a “feeling.”
For my picture, I’ll use the example of a man that I know, because I think he is pretty close to the average person here. He has a fulltime job as an English teacher in a public high school.
(I am going to use the letter “M” to represent our local currency since it has the same or less value of a monopoly bill)
- He earns 40.000 M per month.
- A bus ride to his work costs 500 M
If you do a little math: 2 rides a day (a round trip) is 2×500 M = 1000 M. Now, if you sum up 20 days in a month, it costs him 20.000 M only going to work.
To give his classes he needs markers, and the school is supposed to supply him with all of the things he needs, but guess what, they are always ran out of materials, so he has to buy his own markers.
- One marker costs 10.000 M. I’m going to consider this amount of money for any expense he might have due to the same lack of materials at the school.
So far, we have 40.000 M – 20.000 M – 10.000 M = 10.000 M.
With 10.000 M (today, USD 1.5 approx.) you could buy:
- Half chicken, OR,
- Half kilogram (1 pound approx.) of coffee, OR,
- 2 fish, OR,
- 1 package of rice, OR
At this point you might think, well that’s impossible. How can he even eat during a month?
HERE IS HOW…
- He doesn’t take the bus. He wakes up early to walk 10 kilometers (6.25 miles) every day.
- He manages those markers as if they were jewelry.
- He gives private classes to a kid in another community on weekends for 10.000 M.
- His wife has a similar story.
- He has two kids, and even they manage to bring something home with their kid business.
- Some products are almost banned from the house because they are simply not indispensable. Like bacon, ketchup, or mayonnaise. And others become the most prestigious things in the house that, if they have it, they have to consume them as if they were a really expensive perfume or wine. Like toilet paper, shampoo, a razor, oil to fry, sugar, eggs, milk, pork, headache pills, etc.
- His family, as most family, used to have 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, but now they have barely 3 meals. I mean,
A Venezuelan breakfast used to be 2 arepas, a couple of eggs with bacon, cheese and jam, and a late. Now, it looks more like a little arepa with little cheese with a little cup of black coffee and wild fruits from the local vegetation. By the way, we are blessed with a lot of mango.
The story of this man is really common, you can hear it from a construction worker, secretaries, a salesman, a cashier, an engineer, and even managers. Everybody has got into this new life style at some level to make things work.
In conclusion, you may say the average citizen is thinner because he is eating less fats and manufactured food, in moderate quantities, and making a lot more exercise. It even sounds like something positive, in fact, isn’t it the kind of life the doctors always say that you should pursue?
So, what’s the problem? It is not a better life. If you do it for survival, it’s just a life.