Marian and her three children look out the window at Petare, the largest favela in Venezuela, waiting for dad to arrive with something to eat because there is nothing at home. Meanwhile, in a wealthy area on the other side of Caracas, David and Ricardo plan to open two more branches of their business born in the pandemic. This is how inequality is lived in the country.
“Not everyone has the same luck”. That is the phrase with which Marian summarizes the circumstances of her last three years. For her, those who have the possibility of resurfacing are those who receive remittances from abroad, have some land or space to rent or simply have ways to sell and buy products.
Meanwhile, David and Ricardo took the risk of starting a business in an unstable economy, with the wild card of de facto dollarization, and created a fast food business in the midst of a pandemic, with which they managed to overcome the circumstances so quickly that, in just two years, they became a chain with four branches, soon to be joined by two more to open.
end to end
The economic recovery that Venezuela is experiencing seems to leave a trace in the streets, where the involuntary lag of people who continue to be unable to progress and the advance of others, who have taken advantage of the crisis to resurface, generates an abyss that is difficult to overcome.
In this sense, the researcher Andres Bello Catholic University (UCAB), Maria Gabriela Ponce, ensures that “Venezuela is a heterogeneous country and the crisis is experienced differently depending on social position, where you are, and it always was, but this crisis has exacerbated existing inequalities”.
And it is at the most disadvantaged end that Marian finds herself, who left her job two years ago to care for her young son. Now, the family, made up of five people, lives off the US$30 or US$40 a month that her husband earns at a car wash, which is not enough to cover their basic needs for 30 days.
Sometimes, he has to go to the community kitchens in his neighborhood to ask for food for the whole family, other times he has to give up what little is left at home or not send his two oldest children to school because there is nothing to eat.
“I’m a little worse off than before because before this – I’m talking about three, four, five years ago – with a minimum salary, I could more or less support some things, not everything. But when this attendance deficit falls, there is not enough for the basic basket, in the economy, in schooling, everything has dropped too much, it is no longer the same”Miriam explained.
In the same country, in the same city and at the same time, Ricardo and David created the brand holy chicken and they managed to revitalize their investment by taking advantage of the opportunities that opened up in the pandemic for food delivery sales.
“We have been able to overcome the difficulties that Venezuela has imposed, but certainly also these small openings that have taken place in the Venezuelan economy, the dollarization of payments, all this, yes, it has certainly been essential for a business like ours, not only become sustainable, but rather have sustained growth”David explained.
Ponce, also a sociologist and university professor, makes it clear that in Venezuela there is a significant number of disparate realities that force us to think about differentiated public policies, different from those implemented in recent years, in which “standards” that do not aim to mitigate the problem they are trying to solve.
“You have to work looking at diversity, especially when it comes to public policies; you cannot work, let’s say in terms of social policies, some contexts the same as others”reiterated the specialist.
Last September, the Survey on Living Conditions (Encovi) prepared by the UCAB revealed that 94.5% of Venezuelans live below the poverty line, if this is measured by income. In contrast, the Venezuelan vice president, Delcy Rodriguezassured last April that the trade sector has grown by 86% thanks to the opening of new establishments.
Both realities are palpable, so the two must be considered, as the experts indicate, in a “Recovery” which seems to widen the gap between those at the top and those at the bottom.