The Venezuelan population faces a new economic, political and social reality, in the midst of an atmosphere of hope that has not been perceived for years and that coincides with the arrival of Christmas, the regional elections on November 21 and the total relaxation of the quarantine against the covid-19 pandemic, while the vaccination campaign continues.
15 days before the holiday season, the streets, homes, shops and recreational spaces already display their allusive decorations, while families prepare for purchases of the time: toys for children, clothing and footwear, preparation of traditional food and drinks such as Hallas, ham bread, pork leg, chicken salad, black cake and cream punch, among others.
This festive atmosphere arises even despite the negative effects generated by sanctions imposed by the US, its allied governments and the European Union (EU), which have led the population to face serious difficulties for years, such as the deterioration of their income, quality of life, public services, transportation and other fundamental needs such as recreation.
Although these difficulties persist, to the point that the inequality gaps between rich and poor have been accentuated – recognized by President Nicolás Maduro himself – a different economic dynamic is showing that seems to have left behind the worst of the hyperinflationary wave.
This context also coincides with the entry into force of the new monetary expression, the digital Bolívar, which started last October, and which ordered the elimination of six zeros from the accounting figures in order to streamline and make banking transactions easier and commercial; and to preserve and strengthen the local currency amid the de facto dollarization that the country is experiencing.
In addition, politically, the vast majority of the different opposition factions have decided to resolve their differences with Chavismo through elections, a position that has allowed tensions to be lowered, institutions renewed and the social climate improved.
How is the new economic dynamics perceived?
During a visit to the La Hoyada market, a massive commercial center located in Caracas and where hundreds of people converge daily, several merchants and users told RT their different perspectives on the new situation that the country is going through.
Leonel Bravo, head of a store that sells T-shirts, jeans, caps, watches and other items, said that in his case current sales are “a little low”, as he considers that people do not have enough money to buy these items and prioritize other needs. “Our prices range between 10 and 50 dollars, which are a reference to give the client a stable figure and can come later to buy.”
Bravo believes that it sells little because it offers original brands, which means that the garments are not as cheap as those that other stores in the same market might have: “People who come and buy at once is because they have come before and like our merchandise. There are many who come to find out. the prices but they do not buy. That happens because they look for the most accessible to their pocket, “he says.
Another circumstance that affects sales, says Bravo, is the lack of small dollar bills and the instability of prices in bolivars, which change daily according to the rate of the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV). In addition, it alleges that there is still not enough cash in bolivars of the new monetary cone and that few people make digital purchases with the local currency.
However, it points out that in the cases of clients who have paid with bolivars, electronic transactions have been “simple and fast”. “People also come asking if we accept payments from other countries such as Zelle, Paypal or cryptocurrencies, but here we do not have it and in the market few handle that,” he acknowledges.
And he adds: “Right now we have the problem of the change in dollars due to the shortage of 5 and 10 bills. However, if the client asks us for bolivars and we have them at the moment, we give them to them in cash or by mobile payment. It all depends and we have to help ourselves among the market vendors so as not to lose customers due to lack of return. “
“Sales have been a little better”
Kati Urbina, another vendor in the market who sells lunches, believes that sales have improved since the Government relaxed sanitary measures against the coronavirus.
“Sales have been a bit better, especially on weekends that more people come and after they relaxed the quarantine. At the beginning of the pandemic it was strong, nobody came out, the market closed completely, we did not work for several months and that hit us, until we began to open little by little with the measure of ‘7 plus 7’, which was an open week and another closed “.
Mrs. Kati sells dishes that include “soup and dry.” The cheapest can be a chicken soup or a minestrone with a steak of meat, rice and slices, which costs 3 dollars; while a more expensive dish that integrates fried pork, cutlet or fish costs 5 dollars.
“The difference in price – Kati details – is the amount of food served or the type of protein, but we try to make sure that people leave satisfied and happy, that the dish is within reach of the customers’ pocket. There are also people who They come every day and we try to vary the menu to pamper them. “
For this cook, the implementation of the digital Bolivar has been positive because it has simplified operations: “Eliminating that chorrera of zeros was a blessing, because it was a bummer to count so many zeros to get past the point. Now it’s quite easy and fast.”
Kati insists that merchants prepare “with a lot of faith” for the holiday season and hope to “sell a little more, despite the fact that the pandemic is still there and that there are people without work or who cannot afford money, such as pensioners, educators and public workers “.
“They are down a little bit compared to last year”
For Adrián González, a clerk who works in a shoe and intimate clothing store, sales remain low compared to 2020. “Although sales have been increasing, if we compare them with November and December of last year, they have dropped a little bit, because at the end of last year a lot was sold,” he said.
Adrián highlights that many people have told you that they will buy after the regional elections because what might happen causes them uncertainty. “They tell me that they come to find out prices and that after the elections they buy, because right now they are with food because they do not know what will happen next.”
However, the young man highlights that with the easing of the quarantine, “little by little” sales have improved. And he details: “We receive payments in bolivars and foreign currency, but the dollar is what moves people the most. With the digital Bolívar it is much easier to make transactions and the problem of change in dollars is avoided, which is difficult to give because you can’t get the 5 and 10 bills, and most people come with 20 or 100 “bills.
“Before, for example, one charged in hundreds of millions of bolivars and the person worried about that we were not going to put a zero more and we a zero less. It was always stressful and on edge. Now it is better, one puts the amount and it is easier to read it “, comments the seller, while assuring that the banking platform still has flaws when “there are blackouts”, which become lost sales because if the customer does not have dollars, he cannot pay.
“There are also the elderly, they find it more difficult to handle dollars and digital, so they come asking for prices in bolivars and we have to explain to them how much the product cost in dollars, which will always be the same, and then in bolivars for that moment, then it is difficult for them to understand, “he adds.
“Things are looking a little more stable”
For Yennifer Montilla, a market user, the current economic situation seems more stable than in 2016, a year that she marks as “the strongest” of the economic crisis. “Now things look a little more stable because people have learned to solve, they have moved, they have sought to manage dollars, they manage themselves better than before. “
“People no longer just buy food, now they can also buy clothes, footwear, go out for a walk, to entertain themselves, things that are also important, but that they couldn’t before. In 2016, the strongest year of the crisis, it was impossible to indulge“, explains Montilla, who highlights the implementation of the digital Bolivar as a way to facilitate payments.
“The most difficult thing now is to get them to give you back in dollars because sellers tell you that they have no change or that you pay exactly. I understand that they also save their dollars because they have to pay suppliers in foreign currency, it is a cycle that affects us all, “he adds.
Henry Jaramillo, another user of the market, sums up in one sentence the juggling he had to do to buy a single item and the improvement that the elimination of the zeros has represented with the new monetary expression: “I once bought two pairs of shoes and It was 40 dollars, I paid 30 in foreign currency and the other 10 in bolivars. I came to buy in bolivars and it was easier to understand the amounts they charged me, because before I felt like I was cheated by those very long figures that they put me “.
Orlando Rangel Y.
If you liked it, share it with your friends!