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A moving and real look at life in a collapsing economy


MSNative
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A friend of mine moved to Venezula four years ago. She has been blogging about her experience. She recently posted a very real and raw look at how life has changed since the economy has tanked. It was very eye opening to me. Thought others might find it educational and interesting too. Fair warning: my friend is not afraid to cuss and often uses cuss words in creative ways. If you were thinking about sharing any of this with your kids, you may want to edit.

 

http://www.rawbeautifullife.com/dharma-and-automatic-weapons-for-breakfast-the-reality-of-venezuelan-island-life/

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Venezuela has been deteriorating for years. It is sad, because there are many nice people there. Not a good place for Colombians or Americans IMO.  Many Colombians who moved to Venezuela years ago have returned to Colombia, because life in Venezuela is much harder than it is here. I met many nice people on my trips to Venezuela and I considered moving there in 1991, but am extremely thankful that I moved to Colombia.  The problems in Venezuela are much worse. They have shortages of basic commodities like toilet paper and milk. It is a beautiful country and the food is great.

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It was very interesting. I have seen some of this doing mission work in Nepal and Africa. A failed economy isn't pretty. Rolling blackouts aren't pretty. The real trouble is that young people grow up only seeing authority being abused, and they believer that once they get any authority they must treat others poorly.

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This isn't surprising seeing the outside indicators for years and years, and yet reading her account is heart rending and stressful all at once. It's a horrible situation to be in and as if the country issues aren't bad enough her personal/family/health issues were just an additional kick in the butt.

 

Hugs to them!

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Venezuela has been deteriorating for years. It is sad, because there are many nice people there. Not a good place for Colombians or Americans IMO.  Many Colombians who moved to Venezuela years ago have returned to Colombia, because life in Venezuela is much harder than it is here. I met many nice people on my trips to Venezuela and I considered moving there in 1991, but am extremely thankful that I moved to Colombia.  The problems in Venezuela are much worse. They have shortages of basic commodities like toilet paper and milk. It is a beautiful country and the food is great.

 

this.

 

we have a family friend who is a german from venezuela.  (his parents were german, he was born there.  now lives in the US.)  after chavez took over, they wouldn't dare go back - and especially NOT on a venezuelan passport.  (getting back out would be 'questionable'. at. best.)

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Wow. Just wow. I moved to the US from Colombia in 1999. I've heard about Venezuela deteriorating...but NEVER imagined it was this bad. Many South American countries have always struggled (that I know of)...Ecuador, Peru...don't ever remember hearing they were doing well. Venezuela was different. They were a STRONG country! I'm sure they had their troubles...but their economy seemed strong, large cities, beaches, industries...I mean, they seemed to be doing OK. This is sad, so very sad!!! :(

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It was very interesting. I have seen some of this doing mission work in Nepal and Africa. A failed economy isn't pretty. Rolling blackouts aren't pretty. The real trouble is that young people grow up only seeing authority being abused, and they believer that once they get any authority they must treat others poorly.

That is a very interesting perspective. I never thought about that.
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It is sad what is happening in Venezuela.  Years ago I came across a blog by someone who lived through the economic collapse in Argentina.  I just found his blog and he is still posting thought I would add it if anyone is interested.  It has a lot of survivalist tips on the site. http://ferfal.blogspot.com/2016/04/venezuela-collapse-state-employees-now.html

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I don't think the price of oil is why this is happening, I think it is corrupt governments.

Yes, the poor management by governments. I was thinking the government was assuming the money from oil would always be there and poor spending wouldn't matter. But if the government were not that way there wouldn't be such problems now.

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I think they had so much reliance on oil and with the prices down for so long it's a problem.

 

it started before oil prices fell - though that would have made things worse.  the polices chavez  implemented made life very difficult, even when oil prices  were high.

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this.

 

we have a family friend who is a german from venezuela.  (his parents were german, he was born there.  now lives in the US.)  after chavez took over, they wouldn't dare go back - and especially NOT on a venezuelan passport.  (getting back out would be 'questionable'. at. best.)

There are no travel restrictions at all. People can come and go at will if they have the money. Venezuela is very messed up but it's not a complete totalitarian state.

 

MSNative, if you can convince your friend, I honestly think she needs to pack up and leave RIGHT NOW. If Guri fails, the Caracazo will look like a minor disturbance. I fully expect massive looting and thousands of deaths if the lights go off. If she cannot leave, I hope she has her stockpiles set and a way to stay out of the path of rioters. Normally, Margarita would be a different planet but the island has always had electricity problems and I think they'll suffer worse than the mainland.

 

I weathered the national strike and the coup against Chavez, but if we were still living in Caracas I would pack up and leave. I sincerely hope the rains come soon but if they don't there's no averting the disaster.

 

ETA: They do close the border with Colombia frequently. This isn't to keep Venezuelans in, it's to try to control gasoline smuggling. It doesn't really work of course.

Edited by chiguirre
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Venezuela has been going down the tubes since Hugo Chavez took over. The price of Petroleum is very low and that was the basis of their economy. Russia is also dependent on the price of oil and I believe has stopped subsidizing Venezuela. There have been Hezbollah (?) training camps in Venezuela for many years, so their ties to Iran are well known.   I have a friend from the web forum of my favorite singer/group who lives in Venezuela. This was a few years ago. She went from the city where she lives, to a city near the international border with Colombia, where another forum member lives.  They were not sure, until after they crossed the border into Colombia, that they would be permitted to leave Venezuela and attend a concert here in Colombia.  Many airlines stopped serving Venezuela, because they lost so much money there. It was confiscated.  We have a neighbor, now retired, who traveled all over  South America, to different plants his company owns and operates. He told me that they had NO IDEA how much money they had in Venezuela  and obviously, they could not get their money out of Venezuela.  No company in their right mind would build a plant in Venezuela at this time.  Venezuela is tied to countries that are not friendly to the USA or Colombia.  Along with the Colombians who have moved back from Venezuela, there are Venezuelans coming here too.  Many nice people in Venezuela, but the Socialist government has destroyed the country. 

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The banks in Venezuela were dishonest in 1991, when Carlos Andres Perez was the President. I was there twice in 1991. I met an American man who was married to a Venezuelan woman, on Margarita Island.  He told me that sometimes people had banks in other countries send them money, via a Wire Transfer and bank employees stole their money. I cannot imagine that happening in my bank in Colombia.  We transferred the funds to buy this lot and build this house and had zero problems.  The corruption and crime in Venezuela was rampant in 1991 and I am sure that 25 years later, it is far worse.  It is sad that the decent people in Venezuela are suffering like this. 

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Venezuela has been going down the tubes since Hugo Chavez took over.

 

Long before that. We had Rafael Caldera (a Christian Democrat (our conservative party) who loved price controls) and his Chiripero (chiripas are little cockroaches that live indoors (if a political group calls themselves this, you should believe them)). Before that we had the Caracazo and the impeachment of Carlos Andres Perez who tried to modernize the economy and failed miserably. Before that we had a string of democratically elected presidents who did better or worse depending on the price of oil. Before that was a string of dictators. Before that was almost 100 years of civil war following independence from Spain.

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Many nice people in Venezuela, but the Socialist government has destroyed the country. 

 

The socialists only seem to be able to destroy poor countries. How come they haven't destroyed northern countries?

 

The main issue these countries have--because they all have similar ones whether they are capitalist puppets or socialist puppets--is the fact that they have in place tenuous governments and there is a lot of corruption due to lack of trust.

 

It's not as though Columbia is this capitalist paradise either. 

 

When gangsters rule they can call their policies whatever they want but it's still gang rule. You can see it here in the US, the poorest states are all the most corrupt.

 

http://fortune.com/2015/07/20/united-states-decline-statistics-economic/

 

If you look at median wealth, the United States is also poorer than many socialist countries.

 

And no, we have not gotten more socialist over time.

 

We have gotten more gangsters at the top, though. Blaming this on socialism ignores the true risk at our very great and very immediate peril.

 

Edited to add... when I talk about gangsters I'm not talking about the White House. I am talking about cartels. Not drug cartels, well yes drug cartels like pharmaceuticals. Though certainly we have some corrupt people in Congress as well.

Edited by Tsuga
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There are no travel restrictions at all. People can come and go at will if they have the money.  .

 

when you're living in the moment, and things are changing regularly, you don't know when travel is going to become an even bigger problem.  - he's venezeulan, but no way was he going to open himself  up to him or his children being trapped if the gov't decides to keep people there, for whatever reason.  this guy is a university professor, so he's certainly not unaware of what is going on.

The socialists only seem to be able to destroy poor countries. How come they haven't destroyed northern countries?

 

for starters - you have to look at the basic economies of the countries.  Swedes are ditching socialized medicine in droves.    private medical system is growing fast.  (currently at 1 in 10 with private insurance.)

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when you're living in the moment, and things are changing regularly, you don't know when travel is going to become an even bigger problem.  - he's venezeulan, but no way was he going to open himself  up to him or his children being trapped if the gov't decides to keep people there, for whatever reason.  this guy is a university professor, so he's certainly not unaware of what is going on.

for starters - you have to look at the basic economies of the countries.  Swedes are ditching socialized medicine in droves.    private medical system is growing fast.  (currently at 1 in 10 with private insurance.)

 

1 in 10 with private insurance is ditching it in droves?

 

Also, socialism did  not and never did destroy them. People supplementing with private insurance means they are wealthy, not that they cannot get care.

 

The fact that most countries have problems and that gangsters ruin economies does not mean "socialism doesn't work".

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There are no travel restrictions at all. People can come and go at will if they have the money. Venezuela is very messed up but it's not a complete totalitarian state.

 

MSNative, if you can convince your friend, I honestly think she needs to pack up and leave RIGHT NOW. If Guri fails, the Caracazo will look like a minor disturbance. I fully expect massive looting and thousands of deaths if the lights go off. If she cannot leave, I hope she has her stockpiles set and a way to stay out of the path of rioters. Normally, Margarita would be a different planet but the island has always had electricity problems and I think they'll suffer worse than the mainland.

 

I weathered the national strike and the coup against Chavez, but if we were still living in Caracas I would pack up and leave. I sincerely hope the rains come soon but if they don't there's no averting the disaster.

 

ETA: They do close the border with Colombia frequently. This isn't to keep Venezuelans in, it's to try to control gasoline smuggling. It doesn't really work of course.

I think all of us begged her not to go and have begged her to come back. She won't leave without her kids. She can't take them without her ex's consent and he won't agree. ;(

But I do appreciate hearing everyone's perspecitve and experiences.

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this.

 

we have a family friend who is a german from venezuela.  (his parents were german, he was born there.  now lives in the US.)  after chavez took over, they wouldn't dare go back - and especially NOT on a venezuelan passport.  (getting back out would be 'questionable'. at. best.)

 

If the law in Venezuela is like the law here in Colombia, someone who was born in Venezuela needs a Venezuelan Passport, to leave/enter Venezuela.  Colombians who were born here and are now citizens of another country (USA or other) MUST have a Colombian Passport when they enter/leave Colombia.  If they arrive in Colombia and do not have a Colombian Passport, they must get one, before they will be permitted to leave the country.  DD will always have 2 Passports (USA and Colombia) since she was born in Colombia,  a Dual Citizen.  The woman at Walt Disney World who sold us our tickets is from Colombia. She is a U.S. Citizen now. .  She is in the process of getting a "Cedula" (National Identity Card) and a Colombian Passport, so she can visit her family here in Colombia.  

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If the law in Venezuela is like the law here in Colombia, someone who was born in Venezuela needs a Venezuelan Passport, to leave/enter Venezuela.

Technically yes, but the reality is that it is so hard to get a Venezuelan passport because they can't afford the materials that they do not enforce this at all. You do need to have a cedula de identidad but those are relatively easy to get and valid for 10 years. Plus, even an expired cedula serves as an identity document. I can still use mine even though it's out of date. I can't renew it because I no longer hold a resident visa.

 

Another thing is that many people who have enough money to travel do hold a passport from another country. Venezuela received lots of immigrants in the boom years and all those sons and daughters of Spanish, Italian, Eastern European, Argentine, Chilean exiles have gotten their "insurance" passport just in case. There are, of course, millions of Colombians who live in Venezuela and have full sets of national documents for both countries.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Authoritarians who perceive their power slipping away will take drastic measures to make sure they still are able to exert their power, whether that means a parent, a spouse, a boss, or, sadly, a national leader.

 

I am at a complete loss, wondering where Maduro expects Polar to get the Foreign Exchange they need, to buy raw materials from other countries.  This is not something that can be accomplished by normal accounting methods.

 

Someone we know (now retired) traveled all over South America visiting factories his company operates here. He told me, about 2 or 3 years ago, they had absolutely no idea how much money they had in Venezuela.

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Here's another article that's online today (15 May 2016). The USA and Colombia will be blamed, even if they have *nothing* to do with what might happen in Venezuela.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/05/15/us-officials-concerned-about-possible-coup-in-venezuela.html?intcmp=hplnws

Lanny, why will Columbia be blamed? I'm reading the article precoffee so if it was in there forgive me.

Thank you for sharing these articles.

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Lanny, why will Columbia be blamed? I'm reading the article precoffee so if it was in there forgive me.

Thank you for sharing these articles.

 

@MSNative   Good question.  Colombia is *very* close with the USA. Venezuela likes to blame almost everything that happens in Venezuela, on the USA and/or Colombia.   Colombia is probably considered by the Venezuelan government to be a "Frenemy" (Friend/Enemy).   Colombian exporting firms lost a lot of money sending goods to Venezuela and not getting paid, so we have  lost a major trading partner. On more than one occasion, I have told my wife something like, "If Venezuela attacks Colombia, I think/hope the USA will help us".   There are U.S. Military Personnel deployed here in Colombia.   I think it was in 2015 (?) Venezuela banned CNN and also a Colombian TV News network.  I'm not sure if those bans were temporary or permanent.  I remember when there were Venezuelan doctors (?) last year, in Bogota, protesting and asking for help for their families.  The Colombian government (I think this includes our President and Foreign Minister, but it isn't recent) has publicly condemned what happens in Venezuela, on probably multiple occasions.

Maduro was a Bus Driver.  Hugh Chavez was *extremely* intelligent.  Maduro has no clue... 

 

Our relationship with Ecuador seems to be much better now. In February, when I went to get a new "Cedula" (national identity card) I noticed that they had extremely low rates for Ecuadorians. Ecuador is the only country that seemed to have that special status.  

 

I'm glad you found the articles worth reading!

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I was thinking about this thread yesterday as I read this article (warning, disturbing and so very sad):

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/16/world/americas/dying-infants-and-no-medicine-inside-venezuelas-failing-hospitals.html?_r=0

 

MSNative, I'm so sorry that your friend is trapped there by her pig of an ex-husband. I hope their situation improves soon :(

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Omg. I have no words.

 

And talk about stubborn denial:

 

“I doubt that anywhere in the world, except in Cuba, there exists a better health system than this one,†Mr. Maduro said.

 

I know. I was filled with rage when I saw that. I started envisioning armed uprisings where the people would bring him and his family to one of his excellent hospitals and force them to have treatment there.

 

This is why I can't read the news. I can't let it go. This article has been with me since I read it. It breaks my heart. I need to get back inside my bubble!

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Lanny, why will Columbia be blamed? I'm reading the article precoffee so if it was in there forgive me.

Thank you for sharing these articles.

Because Colombia is the principal market for goods smuggled out of Venezuela. It's incredibly profitable to buy stuff at controlled prices in Venezuela and ship it to Colombia to sell at market prices. This is, of course, not the Colombians' fault. It's the fault of the unbelievably corrupt military and government officials, but when you're waiting in line all day to buy some corn flour and toilet paper, it's easy to blame the neighbors who have everything. Venezuela and Colombia have always been frenemies so it's easy to gin up anti-Colombian sentiment in a pinch. The Chavistas have tried the same trick with Guyana but the prospect of having to face the entire British Commonwealth put the kibosh on that very quickly.

 

IMHO, if the referendum doesn't proceed we're inevitably going to have riots and a military coup, probably followed by elections in short order. The real problem is that Venezuela will have to massively devalue the currency or opt for dollarizing the economy and people will not have enough money to feed themselves until oil revenue recuperates. Of course, they can also turn to producing cocaine and heroin instead of just trafficking it through the military smuggling networks. People don't starve voluntarily so I'm sure Venezuelans will think of something to keep the arepas coming. That something is unlikely to please the rest of the hemisphere.

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On more than one occasion, I have told my wife something like, "If Venezuela attacks Colombia, I think/hope the USA will help us".  

Venezuela will not attack Colombia because its military leaders are far too busy smuggling gas and drugs. They know they'd get their butts kicked almost instantaneously and lose their extremely profitable market position.

 

What I'd worry about a whole bunch more is several million indigents with Colombian papers relocating. So far, people have been hoping that things would get better and they haven't been willing to abandon their homes. The tipping point may be approaching where the need to find food outweighs holding on to the durable goods you've accumulated.

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Venezuela will not attack Colombia because its military leaders are far too busy smuggling gas and drugs. They know they'd get their butts kicked almost instantaneously and lose their extremely profitable market position.

 

What I'd worry about a whole bunch more is several million indigents with Colombian papers relocating. So far, people have been hoping that things would get better and they haven't been willing to abandon their homes. The tipping point may be approaching where the need to find food outweighs holding on to the durable goods you've accumulated.

 

We are acquainted with several people who have family members living in Venezuela.  I believe they are all still there.  I had a friend (same hobby) who'd lived in Venezuela about 1/2 of his life. He moved  back to Venezuela, approximately 2005.  I think he went to Western Venezuela, where he could buy land for an "antenna farm".   I hope he is OK.

 

Our take from the above is that the shortages are not everywhere and that life in some places is better than in other places. Obviously, if one is aligned with the ruling party, one has privileges the opposition party members don't have.

 

Regarding an attack by Venezuela on Colombia, that brings to mind some truly nightmare possibilities that I can imagine, if I let my mind run wild, with possibilities of what could go wrong.. Venezuela is aligned with Iran and Russia. Colombia is aligned with the USA. If things were to truly get out of hand, that could lead to World War 3.    Hoping and praying everything will stay as it is and that we will get along peacefully.  

 

I remember when a plane crashed taking off from Fort Lauderdale (?) last year. An airline I'd never heard of, with destination Caracas, or some other city.  In that article, it said a lot of airlines had stopped flying to Venezuela, or significantly raised their   fares.   I bet if I were to  look on the OTA web   site, it would cost a lot more to    go from Cali to Caracas than from Cali to Miami.  

 

I sincerely hope that your family and friends in Venezuela are safe and in excellent health! Those are the only things that truly matter in life. 

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This in in the news today (Saturday, 21 May 2016).  Coca Cola is suspending production of drinks with Sugar in them, because they cannot Import the Sugar they need.  We live in a Tropical Valley, where the main crop is Sugar Cane, but our Exporters lost tens of millions of dollars, years ago, shipping things to Venezuela and then not getting paid, so probably they would not ship anything to Venezuela, unless they had Hard Currency "up front", in their bank here in Colombia.  700% inflation  is just  something I cannot wrap my head around.  Wondering about the people I know in Venezuela and hoping they are OK. This is very sad.

 

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2016/05/21/coca-cola-forced-to-halt-production-in-venezuela-over-sugar-shortage/?intcmp=hplnws

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   700% inflation  is just  something I cannot wrap my head around.  Wondering about the people I know in Venezuela and hoping they are OK. This is very sad.

 

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2016/05/21/coca-cola-forced-to-halt-production-in-venezuela-over-sugar-shortage/?intcmp=hplnws

 

Weimar republic.

 

not good. at all.

 

my heart goes out to the regular people who are in the middle of this.

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Read her blog entry again, and the other articles, and the new ones. I mean, what is there to say? Got teary eyed, and have a knot in my throat for all Venezuelans. For the gal who can't leave because of ex-husband, many, many prayers!! For the ex-husband? I try hard not to say anything when there's nothing good to say. If he truly loves his children he'd take advantage of the fact that mom could take them away from such a dangerous situation and start a new life. I don't understand him. So many bad things happening in Venezuela, where is it all going to end?? My heart truly aches for them :(

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This is in the news today (29 May 2016) and is from AP, which is a very respected news organization.  The Currency Controls make it extremely difficult, or, impossible, for companies that have money in Venezuela to get it out of there, and makes transactions like paying for Fuel, etc., very difficult.  This is about Lufthansa suspending flights to Venezuela.

 

http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2016/05/29/lufthansa-suspends-travel-to-caracas-over-unstable-venezuelan-economy.html?intcmp=hplnws

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My heart is sinking for the people. Chavez is bad enough, but at this rate like Germany in the Depression, they may be poised to be taken ovet ny someone far worse. It is hard o image sometimes what far worse looks like, but we've seen it in the last century, amd it is frightening. Many, many prayers for Venezuela.

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FaithManor: Chavez was an extremely intelligent man. His replacement, Maduro, was a Bus Driver. Not the best preparation for someone who is running a country.  There are millions of very decent people in Venezuela and hopefully they will survive this.  

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While we're on the subject. Please send your good thoughts and prayers for dh's bff, R, who's visiting Caracas this weekend to take medical supplies to his parents. I hope he got in with all the stuff in his luggage intact, doesn't get chikungunya or zika or dengue, and gets home without Bush Intercontinental cancelling all their flights due to flooding.

Edited by chiguirre
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@chiguirre  I hope he got into Venezuela with the medicine and that it was not in his checked luggage. There's very little chance he would catch one of those illnesses, especially if he is only there for a few days.  I think I read or heard that most people who have Zika have *no* idea that they are sick. The symptoms, typically, are extremely mild.  The *big* risk is for women who are pregnant. 

 

OT: On a TV program I watched this afternoon, there were references to Socialism and Venezuela. Someone mentioned putting a live web cam in a Venezuelan supermarket.  I think that would be  interesting. Are the supermarket shelves really bare, or are they well stocked? 

 

Probably there are multiple issues driving the shortages of medicines. One is the lack of hard currency. The other are the currency controls in place in Venezuela.  I think it was about 6 months ago, one afternoon, my wife turned on a TV set that doesn't have TV service from the phone company (2 of our TVs have that service) and on an over the air Colombian news network (I think it was  NTN24), there were a bunch of Venezuelan doctors demonstrating, in Bogota, because they had not been paid, for many months, and because their families were in danger. I'm not sure how that worked out and whether they are still here in Colombia or returned to Venezuela.    

 

I hope your friend got the medicine delivered OK and that he returned to Houston OK.  The first time I went to Venezuela, in 1991, it was on a VIASA flight, from Houston to Caracas.        

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Unfortunately it's not that hard to get chikungunya or dengue and they do make you very sick. My friend C had the misfortune of getting chikungunya on a 5 day visit to Caracas 2 years ago. He had awful pains in his back for 18 months although it finally got better. He spent a lot of quality time with SalonPas though.

 

R got back, mission accomplished!

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  • 1 month later...

Tech wife, thank you so much for asking. It's bad there. Her expat elderly neighbor just had his home invaded. Three armed men held him at gunpoint and stole $600 from him (which he gave up quickly to try to save his life). She and her kids had to run out the back way because they feared they would be next. She is still afraid that the robbers will be back. She has made it through a lot of the all hurdles (due to much fundraising and bribing.)and I think she and her kids may be able to come back to the states next month. Fingers crossed.

Continued prayers would be great.

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