Much has been said and written about Venezuela’s current economic woes – the lack of food and necessities as people are struggling for basic survival under the socialist regime. But needed goods aren’t the only thing that is rapidly disappearing.
At a time when Venezuela needs to keep educated workers in its workforce, these young Venezuelans are leaving the country in a mass exodus. Since 1999, more than 1 million people have emigrated in hopes of finding a better life elsewhere. With wages that are unable to support its citizens, rampant crime, hyperinflation, and a dearth of badly needed goods, a situation largely created by socialism, the quality of life in Venezuela has become unbearable and is on the verge of collapse.
It’s those that are needed the most that are disappearing. Teachers, doctors, engineers, skilled workers are leaving and creating a tremendous labor gap. This year alone, 48,000 elementary and high school teachers have left their jobs. That’s 12 percent of the educational force. At an average salary that is worth around $29/month on the black market, teachers make up a large number of those fleeing a socialist nightmare. They are deserting a regime that can only offer them empty supermarket shelves and non-sustainable salaries. With so few left to teach the young, even getting an education has become a luxury for many Venezuelans.
Replacement teachers are difficult to find. Many classes are being suspended for weeks or months at a time, and students are staying home. Their education keeps falling behind. Elementary school students have difficulty with rudimentary writing and reading skills, since there is no one to teach them.
Hospitals are becoming as deserted as schools. Entire floors are closing, because there is no staff to tend to the patients. Many doctors are joining the exodus, and badly-needed medicines are as hard to come by as groceries in Venezuela’s socialist Eden. Those that remain are learning to depend on the black market or are going without.
In Venezuela’s capital, at the Jose Manuel de los Rios Children’s Hospital in Caracas, it takes up a year to schedule a surgery. The Cardiology Department only operates during the morning shift because half of its cardiology specialists have left. Sixty-eight physicians have left the medical facility, and it has 300 unfilled nursing positions. Only two of its operating rooms are functional.
If Venezuela were a factory, the assembly line would be coming to a screeching halt. In a country ruled mostly by armed soldiers, flight is the only form of rebellion left. More than 4,500 people are crossing the borders on a daily basis to escape corruption and the collapse of what used to be Venezuela’s most profitable industry – oil. Most of those fleeing are from the upper, educated strata of society. With the re-election of President Maduro last month, Venezuelans are leaving in ever-greater number.
Before the grip of socialism, Venezuela was among South America’s wealthiest countries. All that remains of those riches is hunger and disease. Hyperinflation has skyrocketed 14,000 percent. It takes the average worker five days of earnings to purchase a dozen eggs. If there are eggs to be found. Teachers make an average of $8.00 a month, down from $45.00 in 2017.
Daily life has become misery. Subway stations are unlit, and escalators aren’t working. Ticket booths are closed and unstaffed. Twenty percent of subway workers have walked off the job.
Nothing in Venezuela is being properly repaired or maintained. Blackouts have become the norm and can last for weeks. There are no parts to repair the power grid, and there are no skilled workers to do the work even if there were parts. Replacement workers are frequently unqualified to handle the jobs that need to be done.
Venezuela’s most prestigious university, Simón Bolívar University, has turned out some of the country’s finest engineers and scientists. It has been likened to MIT. Last year, almost 130 professors quit their jobs to head for the border. Professors who retire are not being replaced. Those that remain make $8.00 per month. Simon Bolivar University is turning into a ghost town. The departments of electronic engineering, languages and philosophy will be closing soon, as there is no one left to teach these subjects. But the lack of qualified teachers is only surpassed by students, who are no longer seeking an education. In 2014, there were 700 students in the electronic engineering department. Only 196 remain in 2018.
According to one student, Jesus Perez, he and his friends are planning on leaving Venezuela. Jesus has lost 10 pounds in the past six months due to the growing shortage of food. He plans to move to Peru, where he is willing to take any job.
The economic crisis in Venezuela is so dire, desperate parents are being forced to abandon their most priceless treasures – their children. Unable to feed or care for them, some parents are placing them in orphanages. Others are abandoning their children in public places with notes requesting that someone – anyone – please feed their starving offspring.
Childcare officials talk about the lack of diapers and other horrendous conditions in government-run orphanages. But it is dangerous to speak out against the government, so few facts are known. It is estimated that there are hundreds of abandoned children in these facilities. Fundana, a private orphanage and childcare facility, received 144 requests for child-placement in 2017. This is up 25 percent from 2016. Many parents leave their children in facilities hoping to find work in neighboring countries and then return to take them back. Some might get lucky.
There is little left in Venezuela’s socialist paradise. People are fleeing on a daily basis. The country is in a state of collapse, President Maduro keeps making promises, but has little to say about how his socialist policies have ruined a once-prosperous country.