“… the average Venezuelan does not live today, he survives.”
Meet Mariana Salvador. She’s a young Venezuelan who has seen, firsthand, just how low a country can fall. These days, seeing little hope for her home country, she’s doing everything she can to get herself and her family out.
To raise the money necessary she’s taught herself English and has acquired some online freelancing skills.
I won’t say on what website I met her, as it could give her some unwanted attention. But I’ve seen her work. She’s brilliant at what she does, very dedicated and pumps out a lot of quality stuff.
Yesterday, curiosity struck. I decided to ask Mariana about life in Venezuela.
And I’m glad I did.
It turned into a good, hard and eye-opening conversation. We talked about how the average Venezuelan is faring, what the media says versus the reality of the situation, government corruption, the black market, bitcoin and much more.
I then asked her if we could do an interview. She agreed.
Here’s what she said…
Chris Campbell: Hey, Mariana.
Mariana Salvador: Regards!
CC: I know you’re busy today. So let’s get to it.
What’s life like today for the average Venezuelan?
GS: Well, the average Venezuelan does not live today, he survives.
In general, every day is difficult every time they leave their homes. Not only because of the economic crisis, but also because of the insecurity.
It is also difficult because of the intolerance, the bad treatment and the bad life that is breathed in the streets. Shortages, high prices, insecurity, wages below high inflation. These have all made life very difficult for us.
Today it is difficult to see the young people thinking about independence, looking forward to the future with dreams and the desire to undertake them.
Like me, many young people in the country hope to have the first opportunity to leave the country and go for a better life. What you see in the news is nothing compared to reality. The reality of Venezuela surpasses any news stories.
CC: How do Venezuelans feel about their government?
GS: The feeling towards the government is the same as the government has sown.
They, from the beginning, have sown hatred, rancor, persecution, repression, racism, impotence and anger.
You can not feel anything good towards a regime that has mistreated so much of a country. More than half of its inhabitants.
It is the only government I have known since I have my use of reason and the truth. And I have witnessed how they destroyed an entire country.
It is sad to see how life changes because of other people, because of corrupt and harmful politicians.
I am less than 30 years old. And as the years pass it gets worse and worse in Venezuela!
The real fault lies with a corrupt, lying, cheating, illegal, mafia, irresponsible, incompetent, unfeeling, rude, mischievous and illegitimate government.
We have months waiting for the elections and we have been denied the right to vote. Here the government can do what it wants and nobody can claim anything, no one can denounce them.
CC: You mentioned something about the black market. How does it work there? What does it look like?
GS: The black markets here are made up of the dollar, Amazon gift cards, bitcoin, transfer via paypal, payza and all those coins and tools.
Venezuelans use any kind of existing currency with which they can generate some kind of profit on the Internet. Because the minimum salary is very low and to win in Bolivares is nothing. Many Venezuelans see the electronic market as a stable, more valuable income.
CC: So there’s a growing interest in bitcoin, then? What do people think of it? Are people selling them?
GS: The market for bitcoin and other currencies is not public. Due to the insecurity and the high index of kidnappings, murders and crimes against the people who handle foreign currencies, the market of the same is private.
Digital currencies like bitcoin are traded secretly among friends, acquaintances and in some cases by social networks.
But it is not uncommon to sell foreign monies publicly. If drivers drive several foreign drivers, for example. But it is not thanks to the government. People who earn dollars, transfers by paypal, bitcoin or gift card amazon is by effort.
CC: OK. What would you like to tell the world about what’s happening in Venezuela?
GS: To the world I would like to tell you that Venezuela today more than ever needs support. We were a country that, in its best moment, opened the door to many foreigners. We gave them time, space and opportunity to grow inside our land.
I think it’s time to help each other as people. I would like the governments of the Americas to be more humane and less political.
They know the reality of Venezuela for years and still can not do anything against the regime that rules in Venezuela. I would like the help to be real, to feel the help and support, to raise the voice for Venezuela and many other countries in crisis.
The policy is corrupt and individual interests are worth more than solidarity and humanitarian aid. That is wrong. Venezuela needs a lot of help and the world knows that. We are hoping that someday the help will be true.
Eighteen years full of cheating, injustice, repression, abuse of power, insecurity, poor life, hunger, lack of inputs, unhealthy, poor public services, illegal expropriation, theft, smuggling, human rights violations and censorship.
Public facilities, deterioration of culture, bad education, deterioration of buildings, park, squares, economic crisis, devaluation of the bolívar, super inflation, political prisoners, false promises, stolen elections, electoral fraud, violation of the constitution and ineffectiveness.
The students, abused by our armed forces because of opposing views, poverty, destruction of the country and so on…
Every day is worse. Every day we find it harder to survive in Venezuela.
This is the new Venezuela.
I am witness to how this regime operates that does not respect the differences of thoughts and do not care about the life of the Venezuelans. Democracy is a myth in the new Venezuela.
CC: What has this experience, being a Venezuelan at this time, taught you?
GS: As a Venezuelan citizen, from what I’ve seen, I think the world needs a change.
I think the worst of all ills is ignorance, little education. I think government policy is plagued by people of mutual interest and full of individual interests. I have learned that the countries are built by the people and managed by the government …
Which I still do not understand.
Electing a person to make decisions that would affect the lives of many people. I have learned that corruption is the most harmful thing that can exist in politics. And I have learned that international organizations are no good.
CC: Is there hope for Venezuela?
GS: It’s hard due to so much outrage, violations of rights, censorship and more.
It is difficult to always talk about the same subject.
The truth is I do not know what will happen in Venezuela in the next years. This government does not have the slightest intention to leave the power. They do not want to, they can not. All are corrupt and delinquents.
All have outstanding bills with the law and for that reason they make anyone else impossible to stay in power. It is something lamentable and evident, the world knows very well what has happened in Venezuela.
Today many people are looking for food in the garbage of the streets. Today there are more poor people, families that go to bed without food in the stomach. People who die for lack of medicines, newborns who die for lack of supplies.
And we have not even talked about the prison system…
A whole network of criminals operating throughout the country, the government knows what happens in the jails of Venezuela and does nothing.
Only acting when one of these criminals hurt one of them. Here the law applies to the convenience of the government, here justice acts when it has to defend the government, here the aid and international agreements are approved if they veneer the government.
CC: Any final thoughts?
What else can I tell you?
Venezuela has been completely destitute, the arrival of Chavez to the power of Venezuela was the biggest mistake in the history of the country.
What can I tell you? HELP?
Hopefully one day the neighboring countries will really help Venezuela. They turn a blind eye to everything that goes on here. They do not raise their voices. They do not protest for their neighboring country. Surely they wait at the last moment, when nothing is worth it.
I really do not know. I do not see an opposition leader who really goes out into the streets to defend the opposition people.
Opposition is nowadays a majority.
But we continue to be repressed by the abuse of power, security forces and national guards. They violate human rights, attacking us for expressing our disagreement and demands for change. Leopoldo Lopez, who stood up together with the people, remains a prisoner, deprived of his freedom.
For what? For demanding change and marching in the streets of Venezuela. For demanding and demanding an exit from the regime.
Now he’s a political prisoner.
CC: You said you would like to leave Venezuela. When you get enough money, where will you go?
I plan to go to Ecuador for a while, but my real destination is Mexico.
Really, any country is better than Venezuela.
I cannot even tell you how difficult it is to leave the country. Not only for the amount of money that has to be paid, but also for the obstacles they put on us to get out.
I owe certain online communities a lot! Thanks to them, I am using my skills to get together little by little enough money. I hope to achieve my goal to leave the country on time.
OK. I must go.
CC: Thank you, Mariana. Talk to you soon.
[Ed. note: I’ve decided to open a bitcoin account for her and am raising a little bit of bitcoin to help her on her journey out of Venezuela. This is, after all, in my opinion, what bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are all about. The most important use of cryptocurrencies are their potential to liberate the oppressed from overzealous governments, corrupt politicians and self-serving, top-down monetary policies. If you hold bitcoin and wish to contribute a little, please send it to this bitcoin address: 1JGTiAqfdasaZb1E8vorf63QimZZe7dvGZ]
Managing editor, Laissez Faire Today
Have something to say? Say it! Chris@lfb.org.