Post by Marines Pocaterra
The economic crisis situation in Venezuela has developed a bizarre experiment to mix up different neighborhoods.
Those that work in social inclusion issues, would say a social mix-up is a good thing. They would pursue this event so all income levels come together, share activities and realize they are equals in their country, or at least come to terms with the differences.
But other elements conspire: increased transport costs, the intensive use of inadequate spaces, consuming family time to obtain food, queuing for hours under a hot sun or rain, with kids who cannot stay a home alone, knowing that products will not be enough for all. These conditions create quarrels, accidents, stampedes and cover for thieves that operate through the chaos.
Nowadays, you can identify a grocery store or drugstore, because you will find the building surrounded with incredibly long queues, sometimes formed overnight, to await their opening next morning. At first some found a new way to earn fast money, going from supermarket to supermarket, accumulating products to sell (10 times the price) near access points to low income areas.
To control chaotic queues, stores had to mark numbers on client’s arms, to prevent their access several times. After hiding the queues failed, government forced the use of digital print readers, which lengthened each customers cashier time multiplying the waiting time range.
Increasing shortage of goods has sent all kind of citizens, in search for basics products out of their comfort zone. Each neighborhood had its own market places. Regulations emptied those small stores years ago, even whipped out popular chains specialized in small amounts.
Buying on your return-way home is not possible anymore, you might have to visit many markets near and far, to complete your “bare necessities”. The search for food, respond to rumors, insider information, data from cashiers, etc. New apps like “akizta” have sprung to aid people in permanent search for food or medicine (http://www.0800flor.net/historias/akizta-un-app-para-encontrar-medicamentos-en-venezuela/). Black markets goods are the rule, not the exception. Frequently children miss school and parents miss work because they have nothing to eat. (Fig.3)
Government has sought total control over the economy, with massive import policies destroyed local production, making up set over set of regulations to monopolize finance, production and transport of goods, while also seizing 75% of the food chain.
Regulated goods (almost everything) have controlled prices, well under the level of cost structures. A regular worker can, by skipping a day of work, make the equivalent to a month’s pay, by re-selling the regulated goods he found. This is a way to dismantle the work force incentives, hurting once again the productive system. Meanwhile, Venezuela was the country to buy more weapons in Latin America 2015.
Twentyseven years ago, Caracas saw massive lootings, that ended in bloody army confrontations with poor people.
EL DIA QUE BAJARON LOS CERROS. “THE DAY HILL’S DISPOSSESSED CAME IN”. What the affluent Caracas feared: the marginal population outburst has brought a bloodbath over Venezuela “only a warning”.
I wonder today, if some authoritarian groups took the lead of the lessons on how to harness hatred from majorities to minorities, while the democratic society was slow to apply urgent social measures to foster progress for all. Poor, uneducated majorities are easily controlled, with attractive, Robin Hood type, slogans like “we’ll take from the rich and give to you”. Only authoritarian/military groups do not mention “You will, then, be totally under our control”
To correct injustice and lead to a sustainable future by education and equal opportunities might be easier and far less costly than removing the authoritarian groups from power. That is a World Wide Warning.