HAVANA TIMES – Less than a month after Venezuela’s “change in national currency”, things have only been getting worse, which was to be expected.
Prices tripling was the only thing that happened, or maybe a statistician or economist will discover that they not only tripled, they quintupled. If a “minimum” transport fare used to cost 30,000 bolivars a month ago, now it can cost you (and I say “can” because people charge whatever they feel like) 5 bolivars.
If you are a little confused because 5 bolivars is less than 30, then let me explain. If you bear in mind the fact that these 5 bolivars today are the equivalent of 500 bolivars a month ago, we can see that the figure is scandalous: public transport fares went up from 30 bolivars to 500 bolivars in a month alone. Of course, transport fares are set at 1 or 2 bolivars; however, this fare only applies on the most honest routes in Caracas; and it doesn’t matter. The point is that the “new currency” has only sped up the inflation process, like we expected, which really didn’t need any further encouragement.
The same thing has happened with food prices. The first week after prices were converted, supermarkets were left empty. Maduro handed out a food coupon of a couple of hundred of the “new” bolivars and this helped many people to buy some things they haven’t been able to purchase in a while. However, the food coupon ended and so did products (which weren’t very many to begin with). Now, some items are beginning to reappear, but we wouldn’t be able to afford them even with 10 monthly food coupons.
This week, I tried to start studying a herbal medicine course that I was really interested in. Well, I still am interested. It’s being taught at a Chinese Medicine school in Cabudare, on the other side of where I live, if you take Barquisimeto city as a reference point. We traveled for an hour in our car and I realized that it would be crazy to start studying this course. The country barely has public transport, much less outside of Caracas.
Traveling from one municipality to another right now is just as tedious as it is in Cuba, or even more so. It’s dangerous. Our car still isn’t in the best condition and it’s becoming increasingly harder to get a hold of fuel; my partner could take me once or twice but I would start missing classes in the long-run and I don’t like to leave things half-done. I decided to wait to study at another time and, meanwhile, continue to learn about plants on my own.
And I think about young people who are of a studying age. (Studying is for all ages, but you know what I mean when I say “studying age”). How many children, teenagers and young people are dropping out right now because they don’t have the means, or transport to get to school, teachers or professors, or hope that their studies will help them to have better lives (financially-speaking)?
Meanwhile, Maduro and his comrades continue to live it up. Raising a toast for the Venezuelan people. Smoking cigars that they have exchanged with the Cuban government for fuel, paying in Turkish restaurants with the mining projects that will leave this country without water and life; learning from this Turkish dictator how to arrest half a country and nobody raises their voice in protest; handing diamonds and fuel over to China in exchange for a military boat which offers medical services in a Venezuelan port because public healthcare is in a shambles.
Getting sick in this country is truly terrifying! Sitting in his presidential seat, Maduro will watch you die of tonsillitis, while he leans back and smokes a cigar, breathing smoke into your face, saying that nobody dies of tonsillitis while you are there in excruciating pain.
I am worried that I am becoming less and less inclined to write. Because my life is beautiful from the gate on the street inwards: in spite of all the material problems, we have a wonderful environment here; however, on the other side of the gate, the country continues to fall into ruin, at a much faster pace. Nobody is putting on the brakes. And it not only pains me to write about this, but to be a spokesperson of this and to silence the many other misfortunes that I prefer not to repeat.