As triple-digit inflation rolls on in Venezuela the situation gets noticeably worse by the month. Yesterday the Washington Post published a story pointing out that even brushing your teeth twice a day is now a luxury many Venezuelans can no longer afford:
“I’ve always loved brushing my teeth before going to sleep. I mean, that’s the rule, right?” said [Ana Margarita] Rangel, who lives in a hillside slum 25 miles west of Caracas, the capital, and works in a cosmetics factory down in the suburban city of Guarenas.
“Now I have to choose,” she said. “So I do it only in the mornings.”…
The family has eliminated beef, chicken, salad and fruit from its diet. Instead, Rangel and her sons eat rice, beans, yucca, plantains, sardines and sometimes eggs. “We used to be able to have juice with our meals,” Rangel said. “I miss it so much.”
“And chocolate! We can’t even afford to buy a little cup of coffee on our way to work,” she said.
On July 1st the socialist government raised the minimum wage for the third time this year, but inflation is in the triple-digits and was estimated at 21% in June alone. (Note: These are opposition estimates because the Venezuelan government stopped putting out official numbers many months ago.) CNN reports the new wage is currently worth less than $15 a month on the black market:
The latest increase brings Venezuela’s minimum wage to 97,531 bolivars a month. That’s equivalent to $12.53, according to the unofficial but often used exchange rate of dolartoday.com. Official government exchange rates are considered overvalued.
Including Venezuela’s equivalent of food stamps, the total pay package now rises to 250,531 bolivars, or $32.19 a month.
I’ve pointed this out before, but notice that the current minimum wage means every worker in Venezuela now earns over a million bolivars a year. But all those paper bills aren’t enough to provide most people with three meals a day.
Rangel tells the Post that after work she likes to turn on TV and watch the Kardashians because “you see how people that have everything live. And for a moment you forget what your life is like.”