Of course by "it," I mean me. Hello :) My name is Jose, and I hail from Venezuela, communist paradise extraordinaire. Listen to my story.
This could be yet another article or blog post describing the recent student protests that have been going on in Venezuela. Or I could be talking about the communist regime's terrible repression of said protests and the resulting student deaths. But I'm not in Venezuela; in fact I escaped from Venezuela two months ago, so I don't have any special insight or perspective to share regarding the chaos and mayhem.
I could write about the reasons why students are protesting; the monstrous murder rate, or the wealth destroying inflation rate, or the deep scarcity of the most basic goods. But you can just get those stats anywhere, there's not much I can add to that. But I did live in Venezuela my first 26 years of existence, more than half of them under the Chavista communist regime. What I can offer you, dear reader, is my story and how all those terrible numbers translate from a chart to real life.
Let's start with fear, the constant unremitting fear you feel when you go out into the street. Every couple of weeks you hear a story about how a friend got robbed in a mall parking lot, or how your cousin was jogging in the morning near where you live and some thugs in a motorcycle took his phone at gunpoint, or how a friend got shot in the chest and died.
Imagine staying in a friend’s house at night and hearing rapid gunshot fire. Imagine being stuck in traffic stressing about that giant column of wild motorcyclists swooshing by your car, praying that none of them stops next to your window and kindly asks for your belongings, maybe you're lucky and you just witness how he does it to the car in front of you. Imagine everything being closed almost as soon as the sun comes down because of criminals.
Now imagine being a 20-something and feeling like a prisoner; your house is your jail; the guards are criminals. Imagine then, feeling how the alleged best years of your life are wasted in fear and confinement in your parents’ house. But hey! Maybe that feeling of wasting your life in confinement wouldn't be so bad if you were your own man, right? It's not the same staying in your parents’ house; with their old people rules and their "concerns" about you getting shot if you go out, than you having your own place and living by your own (adjusted to criminality) rules. Right? It sure would be better, no?
Picture then a young, recently-graduated Systems Engineer out of one the alleged best Universities in the country. You get a job in a multinational corporation, a big one. Good for you, recently-graduated engineer! You'll be going places. Soon you will be able to maybe rent an apartment by yourself, and even buy a car. Start moving up in the world!
Except your monthly salary as an engineer is one third of what it costs to rent an apartment and something like 1/100 of what a used car is costing. It doesn't matter anyway because no one is renting and there are no cars being sold, used or new, anyway. Gas is really cheap though — great consolation prize.
So, with 50% yearly inflation and constant devaluation of the currency, saving for the future is a joke. So what is a young engineer in his 20s to do with his hard-earned salary? Well, go out a few times every month with your girlfriend and maybe buy one video game, because that's what your purchasing power allows. That is it.
Can you also picture living in a small city with constant, nerve wrecking, personal time collapsing traffic? Oh, you live in NYC, LA or Chicago and are not impressed? Ok, let me try this: can you picture having to endure 3 hours one-way traffic jams. Every day? At any given hour? Dear first world reader, can you picture what