A First-Hand Account of Venezuela in 2018
I’ve read about the deterioration of Venezuela’s economy, but like most Americans, from the comfort of my home, far away from the suffering. It suddenly became more real to me when I had a conversation with someone who actually lives there. His name is Luis Fernando, and the following is a short interview I did with him online.
Jaron: How long have you lived in Venezuela?
Luis: I was born here. I am 24 years old.
Jaron: Are jobs hard to find where you live?
Luis: It is very hard to find work, here. There are not too many enterprises, and most of the people work for the government.
Jaron: Is food hard to find where you live?
Luis: The food is very hard to find, and it is very expensive for us. The (average) salary is $6 per month and a kilo of meat worth $1.60. Most of Venezuelans ate a lot of meat every week. Three times a week, at least. Nowadays you are lucky if you eat an egg in the breakfast. Spaghetti? Rice? These things are luxury right now.
Jaron: Why do you think the country is struggling?
Luis: The economy is struggling because of the government control over the economy. There are too many regulations on the economy. In 2003 all the controls in the economy started, control on prices, and on the currency.
Jaron: What motivated and inspired you to try to change things?
Luis: I am very motivated. This is the land where I was born. Here is my family and friends. It is very important to fight against the dictatorship.
Jaron: What are you doing to make things better?
Luis: I am doing my best to make this change. I am part of the libertarian movement, and I also manage projects to make people understand what are the problems, and what are the real solutions. The project is called “Liberty Seeds” in English.
Jaron: When I first heard about Venezuelan libertarians, I heard they were trying to build a library so people could read books about freedom. Were you involved with that?
Luis: Yes, it was my idea. We have a little library. I donated my books in order to help people who are interested in the ideas to learn about it.
Jaron: Has the government tried to arrest you or people you know?
Luis: Yes, the government has tried to arrest me, and I know people who have been in jail for protesting against the government. The people I know were arrested when the government sent the national guard to finish the protest. They were caught while they were running away. They were in jail for a few weeks. But there are many cases where the police took the people directly from their houses. I knew that guy who was arrested from his house. He is in jail right now, and I don't have more information about that case. There are many people arrested for protesting, more than 1,000 since 2014
Jaron: What do you wish people in the United States understood about what is happening in Venezuela?
Luis: I would like you to know that socialism is evil. You must understand that the ideas of collectivism can destroy an entire country. It can make you starving, or, even worse, can kill you directly if you disagree with the government.
Jaron: How can we help?
Luis: You can help by sending money, food, or medicines. The best way to help is being in contact with people here and help them directly.