Walking a Day in Venezuelan Shoes
Samuel Bryan • Jul 26 2016
Javier, a young Venezuelan and cryptocurrency advocate, joined LBRY's public chat earlier this month to get access to our beta and learn more about LBRY's vision.
He shared with us a brief look into his life in Venezuela, where a socialist government has mismanaged the economy to the point of destruction. The local currency, the Venezuelan bolivar, is forecast to experience 1,600% inflation next year. Inflation will reach almost 500% this year.
Venezuelans of all income levels are struggling with crippling shortages of food, medicine, and the most basic everyday products. Riots in the streets are almost a daily occurrence. The President has just given control of the food supply to the military.
At the time Javier joined us, we had enabled LBRY Credit (LBC) tipping on our public chat channels. Someone sent Javier a small tip, and he responded:
"From the deepest corner of my heart, thanks a lot sir. I live in a poor country and I starve everyday. ... I really hope we get a new president this year. I can wait no longer, if hunger or insecurity doesn't kill me, sadness will."
We asked him to tell us his story, and that is what follows, with minor edits for clarity.
You can help Javier by sending him BTC or LBC:
The day starts
You get up early in the morning, you clean yourself, you say hi to your family, you take your breakfast, and you go to work, you meet your work schedule, you go to the supermarket and get some food, you get home, share with your family, maybe watch TV news, and then you rest to get ready for another day of living.
I bet this sounds like the day of most of you because that is the way it should be: You work to get bread to the table. What could defer this short description of the day of an average worker in Venezuela? The answer might take your breath away.
While it is true that here in Venezuela you have to comply with these general guidelines, the truth is that sometimes it is not that easy.
May the odds be ever in your favor
Here's how your day really looks in modern Venezuela.
You get up, you clean yourself, you say hi to your family. Up to here, everything is normal. Then you have to take the first important decision in your day: Should I have breakfast?
You get paid monthly $33 VEF (Venezuelan bolivars), which is on average $1.10 US dollars per day. For 1 kg of flour, you must pay $1.4 VEF; for 1Kg of sugar you must pay $1.8; $3 for beans; even for a 2-liter Coke you must pay $1.2. You just can't afford it.
In order to be able to buy some food, you must stand in long lines at the supermarkets for hours (4 on average) under a hot, 40°C sunny day.
You must struggle against insecurity. In these lines, people get killed by the hands of their fellow citizens. Under anguish and despair, they just fall to madness, because these foods are sold on the black market for 4 times their price. Not to mention the constant threat of motorized criminals that even for a smartphone may take your life.
Getting medicines is not easy. Old people die for lack of medicines to treat high tension and cholesterol. Even a painkiller is something that you will rarely see in a pharmacy.
Let's say that you managed to get some food for today, and you are healthy. What's next? Maybe you want a little distraction – go to movie theater, perhaps. Let me tell you that on a movie and a few snacks you can easily spend $14 VEF (almost 13 days of wages).
A car? Ha! You must work for two years without spending a single nickel in order to get an old, rusty car.
A house? That's 20 years of salary, and you know, don't spend a single bolivar in the meantime, because you'll take longer to save.
Don't think out loud
Maybe you feel like expressing yourself about the situation that you are living in, but hey! Don't do it on social networks, because the police might go to your home and take you to jail just because you are talking bad about the government or telling the truth.
Study. But not for you, for them
You can prepare yourself as a professional and get a PhD. But that is worth nothing because a taxi driver can earn a lot more than any professional. (No offense to taxi drivers, I'm truly thankful for your services.)
Maybe it will work if you study in a government institution. But here, history books aren't what they used to be, because they have rewritten the whole history to make the government look illustrious, victorious, capable.
Clap like a seal, nod like an iguana
The only people that might have a chance of not going through so much (with the exception of their personal safety) are those who are in favor of and working for the government.
Having inside work can get you food, a good salary (but not much better), and maybe you can get into any mob (Have you heard of "El cartel de los soles"?) that exists in the different organizations. They exist to get privileges like medicines.
Take note: Saying "no" is forbidden. Missing a meeting is forbidden. Thinking different is forbidden, at least out loud.
Light at the end of the tunnel
How can you survive such a... I don't know what to call it.
You can take my food. You can take my medicines. You can take the peace out of my house.
But there is something that you will never take from me, and this lives in the Blockchain.
I'm talking about cryptocurrencies.
Unlike local currency, cryptocurrencies don't lose their value over time, they reevaluate. This is something that is worth working for.
If I had 1000 VEF yesterday (in local currency, about $1 US dollar), then today it is enough to buy fewer products than yesterday. (It's true; prices change wildly from one week to the next.)
But if yesterday I had 1 BTC, today I'm able to buy more stuff than yesterday. Magic.
Something that is worth it
And this is just BTC. Now with a twist, LBRY enters the scene. An open source library that allows me, as an artist, to share my multimedia content in exchange for cryptocurrencies.
Besides freedom of distribution, LBRY is an open source library. Knowledge must be free and accessible to everyone. That is what LBRY aims for.
I'm a semi-professional young man (I couldn't finish college for monetary reasons), of low resources (unemployed for not being a professional), with an unstable feeding (my fridge broke two years ago), hated for thinking different (crypto-what? That's a lie in the eyes of my fellow countrymen). But it is time to say enough.
I'm not afraid to express what I'm telling you here. What else could they take from me? Can you call this a life?
My life from now on (and always should) contributes to the open source community (secrets in my eyes are tyranny) and developing cryptocurrency platforms because they can't take those from me. Like LBC – a coin that not only will allow me to earn the foods I need to survive but also will help me express myself better to this world and at the same time make it a better place.
Thanks, LBRY team.
Javier, July 2016
You can help Javier by sending him BTC or LBC: