My name is Laura Perez, I am 21 years old and I live in Venezuela.
I was born in a small town that over the years has become a small city. And I say small because practically everyone knows each other and/or is family. When I was born there were no cinemas or shopping centers. Now we have some shopping centers and a cinema. Nor is there much entertainment on the street since there are not many parks and not even a nearby beach. But in the end an afternoon with friends always resolves a day of boredom.
I grew up with a humble and conservative family. My parents taught me to constantly be a woman of values and that was always something very important for me, so it is not very difficult for me to make friends or to like people. They also taught/forced me to be a good student. I was the best of my class during my entire baccalaureate. Thanks to my father, I developed a liking for solving logical-mathematical problems, so much so that I won 3rd place in an intercollegiate mathematics Olympics. I was in the math club, in the drawing and painting club, in athletics and in dance. My parents wanted an integral and exemplary daughter, and I did everything to make them proud of me. I have always been the best version of myself for them. Over the years, I also became an inveterate reader, spent all my afternoons after school reading the book of the week locked in my room. I read so much and learned so many things during those years that my conservative mentality was opening up to new things and my opinions became more liberal but with a base, which was my learning. Maybe that’s when I started to have some disagreements with my family but in the end the ties that bind us are more important than anything else.
When finishing the baccalaureate, I made the decision to study Maintenance Engineering at the university. Honestly, I do not know why I have chosen that career. I guess because you can only study three races in this town and because my parents could not afford a university in another city. So in this place, either you are a lawyer, or you are a business administrator, or you are an engineer in maintenance. As I am a bit nerdy and I like mathematics, physics and chemistry, the one that caught my attention was engineering. This is how my journey through the university began. After a lot of adventures, friendships, love affairs and anecdotes to remember, I am already in my last university semester. Only months to finish college and a couple of months for my graduation.
When I started college my parents disagreed with having a job while I was studying, they worried that I would devote more time to work than to studies. Although we did not have much income, since my father was the only one who worked, I decided to listen to them and so I spent my first four years of university only dedicated to it, to study. During that time, something happened. The economy in my country was in a descent. Food establishments no longer had food, and if they had they were at triple the fair price. The currency was devalued and our poor Bolivar Fuerte was weaker than ever(1*). Inflation began to appear in the country and each month grew more and more. The dollar began to handle the country, the merchants began to be guided by pages that say the price that the dollar has that day and according to the cost that their merchandise had in dollars, they converted them to bolivars. And as the dollar was increasing day by day, products and food were increasingly expensive and difficult to access. Many difficult days came over us. Days without eating. Days without electricity. Days without water. I was always thin and an around 50 kilograms weight, but for those days I weigh 5 kg less and I had health problems. I started to faint because of the lack of food, and after a couple of medical exams I also learned that I had anemia (2*). When I started my 5th year of college I started looking for a job. I needed to look for income and food for my home. My mother also started putting her resume in some companies. Even my younger brother started doing business and selling some things in the house to buy food. I had some interviews, but only three jobs. The first was in a small store of decorations and pastries; I worked painting pieces of wood and preparing cookies. The second was in a coffee shop and bakery, working preparing coffee, cookies and serving tables. The third job was in the mayor of my city, was the calculator of the Department of Cadastre, was responsible for making the plans of the land of the city and calculates the square meters of each land. Of all the jobs I retired because I did not earn enough to buy a packet of rice with my monthly salary.
At this moment, I’m just a university student, unemployed and very discouraged about the future. No possibility of progressing, of becoming independent, of looking for a house of my own. We only think about how to survive, what we will eat from day to day. The luxuries do not exist for us. All my friends, neighbors, relatives and acquaintances who had enough money have already gone to other countries. I’m just in the middle of barbarism from the lower middle class down. On the street it is normal to see people looking to eat in garbage bags, it is normal to see malnourished children asking for food, it is normal to see parents crying to the bakery owners for a piece of bread. I have cried a lot for the situation, for the frustration of not being able to do much, that my options are few and that my family and I sink into poverty.
I have decided to make this blog with the purpose of letting you know a little more about the situation in Venezuela. Talk to them about the day to day. Expose to the exterior how life is from here, from the point of view of your young narrator who is tired because of how difficult life is for someone who wants to start living it and not survive it.
1*: Small joke, the local currency is the Bolivar Fuerte and “fuerte” is “strong”.
2*: Anemia is a condition that is characterized by a lack of enough healthy red blood cells to transport an adequate level of oxygen to the tissues of the body.