J. G. Martinez–In this article, I would like to expose how this government-induced collapse has affected the psychological health of the population. And I would like to make special emphasis on the word induced. The nature of the corruption cases has been so large, and the damage to our economy has been so wide, with such devastating effects, that there is no any doubt that this could never have been generated by ignorance, lack of the needed aptitudes and skills, or plain and simple negligence, nor combination of all these factors.
This was a systematic destruction of our institutions, our government structure, and way of life, to allow the government, against the will of the people, to seize our freedom and our democratic system.
What is a crisis?
Let’s formally define what a crisis is.
A harmful, hazardous situation lived by a person or community as a consequence of an unexpected and sudden change in their living conditions. This situation is a threat to their welfare; physical integrity, social and economic stability, and the usual way to face adversity.
This can result that the person crashes down, or otherwise, gets their guts together to overcome whatever they have to face. As it can be supposed, the magnitude of the impact is proportional to the threat, to the personality and the previous mind and body health of the individuals, of the support they could have, and most importantly…of the preparedness level the people had.
The impact has been divided by the experts into 3 stages:
Stage 1: The Warning. This exists just when there is a previous warning between the initial awareness and the occurrence of the event, such as a hurricane. In this stage, the individuals shall be able to foresee the real dimension of the hazard to be able to act accordingly to mitigate or minimize the damage.
In unprepared communities the impact is huge. In the case of Venezuela there were a lot of things people could have done, but in our society the concept of preparedness is almost unknown, and this can´t be addressed enough. Even those who were aware of the possible situations, like us, saw our preppings swept out in a few months. A dictatorship taking place with bloody and lethal force was something that, despite what some readers may say, was not present even in the worst nightmares of Venezuelans.
Stage 2: The impact phase itself. The gangs took control of the food supply system, under the government’s eye in broad daylight. The military was designated via a presidential bill to seize food companies (including Cargill, and lots of other basic staples producing enterprises). The rationing became more and more common in the entire territory. Then a huge black market appeared, and medications and food disappeared suddenly. The military controlled a large corporation, CASA, in charge of IMPORTING food, instead of producing.
Huge business and bribes are involved here, therefore this was, to my eyes, one of the main signs about what was going to come, and I was not wrong. But the reactions are as different as persons. My main reaction was to prepare a “vacation” trip overseas, as our preps were not going to be enough and my job was a waste of precious time. The salary wouldn’t buy two weeks worth of food (now it does not cover even a week). So I bought my ticket 5 months before the trip and dedicated my time to other online jobs paid in foreign currency, to survive a few weeks while I could settle down and get my family out. Still a work in progress, though.
Having one of my most desired possessions in this world, a motorhome in good shape, would have saved us a LOT of money and it would be right now a very valuable asset. Renting an empty lot in a subdivision to park the RV, would have provided us a more solid condition to migrate.
Stage 3: The aftermath. The common feeling among my former coworkers who are in the middle of the collapse who did not prepare (basically all of them) are now struggling, and I mean, REALLY having a hard time. Their salary is not enough even for food. The benefits, like a full coverage medical insurance that was once the envy of the rest of the working class, are now useless. Doctors have migrated, there are no medications in the private hospitals either, and the coverage is not enough because of the high inflation rates. Those who worked 11 hours a day without developing a plan B, relying just on the company work, are getting their backsides kicked, and I am not lying: they STARVE.
Even with both of the adult members of the family working, their joint salary, benefits and special savings assignations the company provided (12,5% of the salary was additionally paid so the employees could have a savings ability) is not enough. A former coworker, engineer, and his wife, an engineer as well, told me via social networking that his family had been eating just white rice three days in a row. If this is not under your definition of collapse, then please let me know.
The rationing that should be once a week is not arriving to them but once every month and a half of the previous amount if they’re lucky. People want to get out and can’t. They need to buy food and can’t. They need medical care and can’t get it. They need to fix their cars and can’t afford the parts, not even an oil change. Crime is rampant. Kids have been kidnapped at gunpoint from the doors of their schools.
To me, this is the collapse. There was NOT any possible way to prepare for this, I think, other one than but bugging out outside of the borders of that politically-induced mess until the dust settles down.
The reactions of the rest of the expat communities all over South America, the receivers of most of the Venezuelans who could leave, have been, in my opinion, appropriate. There have been blossoming NGOs to assist those who had to stay and those who are migrating in desperation.
There have been people who fell into such deep depression that they have commited suicide. Every week the news reports one or two self-inflicted deaths. Official media is under heavy censorship. This is not something that you are going to see in the world media.
In the hospitals, the children dying from malnutrition are registered with some other cause of death. Those pictures we used to see from Ethiopia, now we see it in the main social networks, but the children are white, with straight hair and clear brown or green eyes this time. But they are indeed starving, just like the Ethiopian people.
What could be done?
I am not the kind of person who stays sitting for too much time. I look for solutions to problems. It’s in my blood.
I am going to be creative now, and you will have to allow it to me so we, as a prepping community perhaps could submit some solutions. (I am already working in a project with nutrition specialists, agronomical engineers, and some other people with more experience in this stuff than I have.)
- Everyone with a small plot should start to grow assorted vegetables and fruit, under expert advising, focusing on a short crop cycle.
- The same should be done with those with land suited to have some cattle, mainly goats and pork, as these are short cycled and abundant.
- People in the cities, living in the barrios who are still working for a so-called salary should pack up their families and bug out, heading to the fields and rural communities. Crime, crowding-induced diseases, lack of water, and the general environment of desperation are taking their toll on the adults’ and children’s psyches. It is better to get to some friends’ farm or cottage and help as much as possible to feed the family than to stay in a barrio under gang control. There have been shadowy reports about the gangs getting stronger, to the point they have actually taken young woman as sex slaves.
- The communities should organize themselves to avoid robbery of their production. This is now a more and more common situation. If someone grows anything in their backyard, neighbors will trespass in the middle of the night once the crop is ripe to feed their own starving children. This happened several times to one of my plumbing freelancers. He packed, sold the house in that crappy barrio, and went back to his original mountain place where he had a small plot on the property of his family, all of them farming people. Now they can feed their wonderful kids, they are healthy, and in a less populated, closer-knit community in their small original rural town. This was my advice to him, and it was great to see them leave and improve their life conditions.
- A local exchange trading system should be stablished in the communities, as the currency has no value. This is as old as humanity itself, I know. But now we have one advantage: we may stabilize and set up fair trades because we have access to information from other countries and their economies. In a town close to a river with pleny of fish, it should be cheaper than another one with lots of green hills for keeping goats. With a little research, a fair price for basic staples could be achieved.
- And last but not least, alternative energy production systems should be installed, the better systems with renewable sources that one can afford. I am a huge fan of closed cycle steam turbines. They can be fed with vegetable debris product of the cleaning and grooming of orchids and crop plots, and their output power rate is decent. Combine these with home made wind systems or small water steam turbines, and there is a lot of potential. And they can be made up with readily available parts: bike gears, 200-liter barrels, and old car alternators, farm equipment, old batteries, you get the picture. Someone close enough to your place needing light for the house, at night, could provide you with eggs for the week, and you provide power enough for a TV or a small fridge. Why this? Because our power grid is going to fail anytime soon. There is a union secretary in jail because he transmitted the warning. The government called him a traitor, accused him, and he is in the can now. Go figure.
That is what preppers do, after all, don’t we?
In our Venezuelan example, with a worthless currency these solutions could be life-saving.