Venezuela – 916 445 km² of one of the nicest climates in the world. Located on the northern coast of South America, we have the best tropical atmosphere of the region due to its various altitudes and green areas. Rainforests, plains, mountains, and paradisiacal beaches cover all the terrain and offer locals and tourists the perfect place for adventure holidays or relaxation trips.
Living and Dying in Caracas
The capital of Venezuela, Caracas, is a city of contrasts. While some people live in extremely good conditions, surrounded by luxury and entertaining lives, others struggle with extreme poverty and continuous threats to their life. For those born there, and those who moved there for whatever reason, there are only two options. Either you hate the city or you love it. Caracas does not offer a middle “meh” ground where you could sit comfortably and wait for your turn; it is a city that demands a position and demands actions to be taken. If you feel you cannot keep up, there are other towns, small cities and beachfront villages, that could suit you better.
Venezuela is home to many different cultures and people. There are, however, certain topics that seem to be very Venezuelan, baseball games, traditional food and beauty pageants top the list. Families sit together and enjoy baseball games in front of the TV while others are able to go and be in the stadium cheering up their favorite team. Baseball is almost an institution in Venezuela, you have to choose a side and you have to be loyal until the end.
Food in Venezuela
Food is also a very important part of our identity: beans, corn, arepas, roots, and hallacas are common pieces of our traditions and holidays. We also have a great influence and presence of Spanish, Portuguese and Italian food in Venezuela due to the millions of immigrants who once came escaping from the war in Europe and who saw an opportunity in this piece of land to have a better life. Now that we have our own Venezuelan diaspora, I sometimes think we are just giving back Europe all those citizens we took away once.
Our life has changed a lot in the last 17 years of revolution. I remember being a child and going to the supermarket with my mom. We weren’t wealthy but money was enough to buy one type of cereal for each of my sisters. Those are simple things we cannot do anymore. Firstly, there aren’t many types of cereal in the supermarket (if you are lucky you may find two or three). Secondly, it is so expensive that you cannot afford to buy two or three boxes of cereal (it would take half of your minimum wage). Drinking a cup of coffee is one of the most simple things that has now become a luxury in Venezuela.
Venezuela: A Political Impasse
The never-ending political battle we are now immersed in has touched every single corner of our lives. Even the youngest member of the family has an opinion on politics. Everybody takes a position and not taking one is considered something abnormal and punishable in Venezuela nowadays. As long as the conversation stays clear of politics, we laugh and share, once it enters the “Chavistas-Madridistas-Oposición”-realm, nobody is safe.
The Venezuelans that managed to establish themselves in another country and started a new life from zero, realize how easy it is to get used to things and actions. Good ones and bad ones. Inside Venezuela, we may not know what are we going to eat next week, let alone what plans we have for next year. Once abroad you easily get used to saving and planning your family budget. Once abroad you start wondering. How is Maduro still in power? The same question foreigners ask all the time.
The Maduro Dictatorship?
In Venezuela, the word dictatorship has been used so frequently now that it has lot part of its power. While many international organizations have declared the situation in Venezuela to be a dictatorship, others say otherwise, because of the simple fact that we still hold elections from time to time and their results clearly show we choose our governors freely. It is necessary then to establish a new definition of dictatorship since the continuous fraud claims and denunciations are not enough to reveal a fake and imposed government structure. The voting company itself came to the limelight and said the numbers had been altered and that those results were not valid, but, again… nothing happened.
A Grim Future for Venezuela
I really don’t know how long we are going to be able to laugh and make jokes about our political and economic situation. I also don’t know how there are still some brave people who decide to stay in Venezuela and fight daily, side by side with their loved ones. There are others, however, that have no other choice. They have to stay and conquer the struggles every day poses. I just want time to go a little faster, prices a little lower and family to come a little closer.
As we speak, 1 American Dollar equals 81.200 Bs. Let me remind you our minimum salary is about 400.000 Bs. (food bonus included), that would be around $4,9 a month. And what happens when most of the food in your country is bought abroad? A kilo of sugar costs 20% of what you earn in Venezuela.
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