Venezuela: where life is a burden to be endured

It’s truly astonishing to see how run-down, degraded and desperate life in Venezuela has become.  Two decades ago it was a cosmopolitan, wealthy society by Latin American standards, relatively carefree and prosperous.  Today, it’s a dystopian nightmare.

Bloomberg has published a series of reports on life in Caracas, the country’s capital city.  All of them are worth reading, if only to illustrate how so much that we take for granted can be lost in a short time through mismanagement, envy and fear.  The latest looks at the street children of Caracas.

Andrea is 9. Her father is dead. Her mother is pregnant, jobless and many miles away in a small town south of Caracas called Yare. Andrea and her cousins—Disbeth, 12, Jocelyn, 11, and Andres and Jose, both 8—come in by bus and subway on Fridays, sleeping for two or three nights on the streets of one of the world’s most treacherous cities. Their weekend jobs are to beg for food for themselves, abating the hunger that dogs them during the week, and for money to bring back to their struggling families. Sometimes Andrea manages to collect as much as 50 bolivars.

Street children have long been a cause for concern in Venezuela. Their numbers have ebbed and flowed with the economy, but it has never before been like this—never before with so many young kids, on their own, all over the city.

They are seemingly everywhere, weighing vegetables at market stands, carrying crates of sodas into diners, cleaning parked cars, begging outside grocery stores, waved away from bars and restaurants where security guards don’t want them bothering the clientele. Many toil as “cloreros,” hawking diluted bleach, or cloro, poured into water jugs.

Sometimes barefoot, often emaciated, many roam in groups for protection, inviting sideways glances and purse clutching. Mostly, though, they’re treated with compassion, as nearly all Caraquenos can see themselves reflected in their misery.

There’s more at the link.

The worst tragedy is, these kids have been denied the food and nourishment they need for their brains to develop properly.  Not only are they uneducated, but if they haven’t had enough food during their physically formative years, they won’t be capable of learning.  I’ve seen that countless times in African cities.  Venezuela isn’t as far gone as some parts of Africa – at least, not yet . . . but if this continues, it will be, and very soon, too.

When you look around at your kids or grandkids, or the children in your neighborhood in the USA, even the poorest and most crime-ridden of them, realize that you’re looking at kids in paradise compared to those who live in most of the rest of the world.  First World societies have very little idea of just how awful conditions can be elsewhere for the youngest and most vulnerable members of society.

Say a prayer for them this Christmas, and try to do something to help, no matter how small.  It matters.

Peter

8 comments

  1. I have been saying this for a while: Venezuela will become the Somalia of South America. There is a reason why there are 2 million Venezuelans that left the country and are all over Latin America.

    They had regional elections yesterday, abstention was in he 80%+. Not that it would matter since they know the results will be rigged.

  2. NFO,

    What govt could pick up the pieces of this? It’s going to require all the neighboring countries and the devoloped countries. It’s going to be a long road for them.

  3. Sadly, in some cases colonialism and imperialism are the best answer.
    The only way to help Venezuela (and many African nations as well) would be to invade and impose change.

    Build up their infrastructure (at the cost of the colonized country, as you can’t force the occupier to pay for it as well as the occupation force) and keep it up for 2, maybe 3 generations.

    Everything else vanishes in warlordism, corruption and general miasma.

  4. They can still learn (that is part of what being human is), just not anywhere near their genetic potential. This is one of the tragedies of life in many of our urban ghettos and a prime reason for programs like food stamps. The waste of potential when kids are deprived of basic nutrition is bad for society as a whole

  5. The lack of food for children is why it’s idiotic to talk about non-Whites naturally having lesser IQs. The upper classes of those countries have their children falling solidly into the average range of any group; the deprivation is both prenatal and postnatal.

    I do fear that the sheer size of the coming catastrophe, as well as its obvious danger to any country that tries to alleviate the situation, will mean the deaths of most Central Africans. What country, however compassionate, will allow refugees from that region?

    If Europe does, it will be the death of most of Europe.

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