How the country with the largest oil reserves in the world sank into poverty. Memories of a past of opulence.
It was the infinite Venezuela. It seemed that nothing could go wrong when, in the 80s, the world still looked with admiration at the Caribbean country. Oil, minerals, cocoa, gas, tourism, fishing … Inexhaustible resources that placed Bolívar’s homeland in the first place in the ranking of the richest nations in Latin America. Today, it occupies the third to last place.
They were the golden years of the oil nation, those who longingly remember those who in the second decade of the 21st century, already retired, look to the past with a mixture of nostalgia, resignation and anger.
Blanca Mendoza, 80, explained to the EFE agency that she is retired from the Judiciary, to which she dedicated three decades of her life, and that she now receives a pension that does not reach one million bolivars per month ($ 2.55), that, as she herself admits, they are not enough for her “at all”.
In a similar situation is Enrique Rubio Araujo, who remembers when in the 80s he had a salary of 2,000 bolivars (then equivalent to about 500 dollars) that they gave him to eat, “live normally” and even travel. And he had money left to save.
“In the 80s we lived well, Caracas was a beautiful city, quiet, without problems. Today, horrible. The situation has become extremely difficult for us, especially for us, the elderly. I worked in the Judiciary for 30 years and I do not win 1,000 bolivars a month (1,000,000 – in colloquial language, Venezuelans subtract 3 zeros – $ 2.55), “explained Blanca.
The old woman assured that her pension does not even give her to buy the medications she must take to treat various pathologies and regrets not having anyone to collaborate with her on a day-to-day basis, although occasionally receives a small amount of dollars sent by a daughter who resides in the United States.
Despite not feeling satisfied with the government’s management, she appreciates “the material support that President (Nicolás) Maduro gives to one from time to time”, in reference to bonuses in the form of food or basic services, such as for gas for domestic use.
Despite government or family aid, Blanca not enough to meet your needs. You can’t even take a taxi to see the doctor, because you don’t have enough money.
“My economy is very precarious, I have to walk alone, just like you see me, looking to see what little I can buy, which is the least that I get. Right now they gave me my Social Security pension, 400 bolivars ($ 1.02), it is not enough to buy even half a kilo of cheese, it is very difficult, “the woman laments.
For her, the country “needs a government that can give one the social protection of a helpless old man, that would create those noble and pure nursing homes”, where she will not go through hardships and, above all, not feel alone, something that especially afflicts her.
The woman remembers when “she had a car, work, doctors and free medicine.”
“We, who were middle class, now have no class status. There is a great lack of everything, even being put in a hospice, a nursing home, because I am living alone, without protection,” he insists.
Enrique Rubio remembers the years when, with his salary, in addition to eating, being able to travel and saving, he could still afford a whim, as he explained to EFE.
But he not only misses that normality that today would be a luxury, but also public services, tranquility and freedom.
“There was gas, all the public services worked and if you went out to protest they wouldn’t put you in jail like now. They criminalize the protest“The man adds to the current economic drama. He is clear: the fault is all” of socialism and communism. “
“The other parties (before Chavismo) regularly commanded well, and we lived regularly well, but then (Hugo) Chávez arrived, financed by Cuba and invented socialism, which is the same as communism, and communism, if they put him to administer the desert, a year, there is no sand in the desert, “said Rubio.