A couple years ago Venezuela was a synonym for shortages, lines, and rations. Whether you liked it or not, it was expected of you to partake in the collapse and “do your part” by only taking what you where allowed, by reducing your electrical consumption to stay in designated “green bands,” and to simply suck it all up — and that’s without factoring the other aspects of the collapse we lived in, such as hyperinflation and the political crisis that took the lives of so many, and which has so far caused more than 7 million of us to leave the country.
We had to live a rationed life, determined by what you could find, and when you were allowed to obtain it based on arbitrary aspects such as your ID card number and so on. Suffice to say, it was not a good time for anyone. I never want to do another bread line in my life, or get into a kerfuffle for toilet paper like that one time in late 2013.
Today, now that the shortages and bread lines are long over, it all certainly feels like it was all a lifetime ago, and that is why perhaps, the newfound yet malformed “normality” we live in is undoubtedly better than those days, even though the cracks are starting to show, and the underlying cause is still in power, now more uncontested than before.
And yet, although the food, toiletries, and other similar rations have long since been eradicated (who knew removing the draconian regulations that caused the shortages would’ve solved them?), the concept of a rationed life still dictates some aspects of our livelihood.
In the case of the sheer majority of people in Venezuela that have been designedly forced into poverty, their lives are even more rationed thanks to the ongoing inflation and meager wages — don’t forget that this is deliberately done by design, sot hat those that can’t afford to feed themselves have to rely and depend on the regime’s handouts and food programs.
Even if you have your food needs solved (three meals here is a luxury), the pursuit for reliable and hassle-free access to running water, gasoline, and electricity is an uphill battle that still dictates and rations one’s normal life in this country. While the capital city of Caracas is shielded by most of the impact of it, it is not fully immune to it.
The only way to break free from the rations around these parts is to simply throw money at the problem — until you simply can no longer do so.
Gasoline, our one gimmick as a country, still faces shortages, with long lines that can take hours or even days. Nowadays, gasoline is distributed through two modes: A subsidized monthly allowance, or unrestricted “international price.”
Power blackouts still determine when you can do stuff across most of the country, even “menial” activities such as leisure or important ones such as education. According to a Venezuelan NGO, we had 233.298 blackouts in 2022, 22% more than 2021. Some of these blackouts last for hours and hours, so imagine trying to live a normal life when your power is rationed like this.
Caracas experiences blackouts, but it is barely a minuscule fraction of what everyone else experiences outside the capital city, although the constant power brownouts and surges have damaged some of our appliances. The solution? Just throw money at it, buy UPS and generators, I guess.
Lastly, we arrive at my eternal nemesis, water. I may thankfully be able to afford food and consistently have one good meal per day (with all the survivors’ guilt that comes with it), not have to deal with gasoline rations, and have somewhat stable access to electricity simply because I live in Caracas, but water is the biggest limiter in my life, the one that dictates when can I do stuff, and when can I cook certain things.
Whenever we do have water is when I can chill for a bit, as it doesn’t mean that I have to do the daily one hour rush of the water rations and all that.
Last week we barely got any water, and had to reduce the rations to 30 minutes each. We got two days of water, and now it got cut again.
I’ve spent these first weeks of 2023 slowly wrapping up my life here, with the hopes of beginning a new — and better — chapter of my life in the next few weeks/months, that’s why I’ve barely been able to do stuff content-wise. I said in the past I don’t have greater aspirations of power (political or otherwise), I simply want to find my own happiness over the next few years of my life.
But if I may be selfish and add something to my list of demands, I just want that, wherever I end up landing with my brother at soon, to simply live without rations limiting my day to day activities, to live a simple life and be able to be able to know that I won’t get interrupted by power brownouts. To be able to have the certainty that I can shower at any time of the day and don’t have to interrupt my already precarious sleep, nor micromanage our water reserves and whatnot.
Rations are something I want to live behind, one of the many things I aspire will be distant memories soon.
I know some of the powers that be are pushing towards carbon taxes and all that stuff, but believe me, living a rationed life is not a good thing to do, it really wears you down, and trust me, you don’t want to end up like we did.