Venezuela is a country in crisis. The nation of nearly 30 million people is experiencing hyperinflation, crime, corruption, violent protests and a lack of food and health supplies following the contested presidential re-election of Nicolas Maduro.
We had the opportunity to anonymously interview a young woman living in Caracas to share her experience while living through this dire situation.
WoBistDude: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background
I am 23 years old and I am studying chemical engineering in Caracas, Venezuela. I’ve lived all my life in Venezuela, a country located in the north of South America and characterized by its beautiful beaches, its perfect weather and its kind people.
WBD: Describe the change that the city of Caracas has undergone during the past 2 years.
Before answering this question, I would like to mention that the only government that I have known is the Chavismo, I have no memories about a Venezuela before communism, because of that I don’t have how to compare the Venezuela of today with the prosperous Venezuela that my grandparents knew. However, in my opinion, the country has been deteriorating over the years.
Caracas, specifically, has become an insecure city where those who have control of the streets are delinquents. According to CNN in Spanish, Caracas is the second most dangerous city in the world, the statistics show that there are 111 homicides per 100000 people.
In reference to the appearance of the city, it is in decline, the corrupt government doesn’t invest in the public properties and services, therefore everything is chaotic. Public transport (busses and subway) is a headache.
In general, the city is emptier because too many people have left the country.
WBD: What sort of differences in everyday life have you noticed during this political crisis?
Mainly, people now have less purchasing power. Everything is absurdly expensive, we are living through the worst hyperinflation in our history, the prices increase daily, therefore, our currency (Bolívares) is worthless. Just for context, yesterday the dollar was equivalent to 6800 Bs, today it is already 7200 Bs (June 2019). Furthermore, the bill of greatest denomination is 500 Bs so it’s impossible to pay anything with cash, that’s why people started using dollars instead of bolívares, nevertheless, earning dollars is not an easy task.
The chief problem is that without purchasing power people cannot live. Currently, the diet of Venezuelan people is just based on carbohydrates, and sometimes, they just can eat twice a day.
Previously, Venezuelans ate meat in three daily meals. At this time very few people can acquire this protein. Also, more and more people are homeless, especially, children, which are in the streets asking for money, food or simply stealing.
WBD: In terms of safety, what was it like before and what is it right now? Have there been any big changes in safety on the street level?
As I mentioned before, Venezuela is an insecure country. The index of delinquency has increased over the years. Being in the streets after 9 pm is a risk, even more if people do not have personal vehicles, so it is not common to see people walking in the streets at night. Personally, I don’t hang out just because I am afraid of something bad happening to me. Obviously, some places are safer than others, but we always have to be alert.
WBD: Let’s talk about the brain drain. Are well educated people leaving the country? How do people who cannot or don’t want to leave feel about this?
Of course, they are leaving. Without a political change, Venezuela does not offer opportunities to well educated people. I can tell you about my experience, I am finishing my studies at one of the most important universities of my country, I found a job in my area that offered me just 25$ per month, working 8 hours a day as an engineer, with that, I just can afford two pizzas per month. Our salaries are a misery, that’s why people, and mainly young people, go abroad in search of better opportunities.
Migrating is complicated, and not everybody wants or can do it. Venezuelan people love spending time with family and being far away from them is not easy. Furthermore, not everybody can afford a ticket to go abroad, that’s why currently too many people decided to cross the borders of our country by foot, risking their lives because the conditions are not adequate but they hope to find a better future.
WBD: Are there any important aspects of this situation that are not being shown in international media?
I would say that there are too many. In previous years, Venezuelan people have demonstrated against the dictatorship and have been brutally repressed by the government forces with fire weapons. The international media have never shown the actual number of murders committed by the regime. In addition, the crisis that we live is not shown in international media, in some countries people believe it is fiction, but I invite them to come to Venezuela to see how people here is suffering and just then they can emit an opinion about our situation. People here are dying because they are starving, because there is no medicine in the hospitals, because they are murdered just for a cellphone or a car. Our situation is critical, and nobody will understand without even seeing it.
WBD: How has your life personally changed as a result of this situation?
The plan for my life has totally changed. I started the university with the hope that the dictatorship would end soon and Venezuela would improve so then I could live well in my country, because I do love it. Six years after, things have become more difficult, so I am planning to go abroad in search of better opportunities. I wouldn’t like to leave my family but here I do not have a promising future.
WBD: What do you think might happen within the next year concerning the political situation?
I think that the regime is getting weaker every day, so I still have hope that the political situation will change. However, the miracles do not exist, and the country cannot be developed in one year.
WBD: If the situation were to improve would you consider returning to Venezuela?
Yes, I would. I love my country and my people, but we need a political change to develop our potential and be, again, the prosperous Venezuela.
The identity of the interviewee has been kept anonymous due to the sensitivity of the topics being discussed and the volatility of the political situation in Venezuela at the time of publication.