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Crisis compels Venezuelans to resell poor-quality goods

75.6% of nationals are poor, according to a survey on the country’s living conditions 

Venezuelan households have turned to buying and selling of discarded objects (Luis Morillo)

Luis Morillo

27 de abril de 2016 12:02 PM

Actualizado el 27 de abril de 2016 12:11 PM

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Crisis compels Venezuelans to resell poor-quality goods

As unusual as selling a worn-out toilet bowl is the market of damaged objects, useless electrical appliances, shoes, and reused clothes that has emerged in Caracas. In the sellers’ view, this is a practice which originated in the city’s poorest areas and managed to install amid crisis in other places.

For instance, the surroundings of the Attorney General’s Office, the National Assembly, other important institutions and, particularly, entrances of subway stations are some of the places where sellers offer their goods.

Passers-by have denounced that few spaces are free from scrap merchants, many of whom lack a formal job and are extremely poor. This is a reality that has compelled Zuleima González from Sucre parish (west Caracas) to repair and sell toys recovered from garbage containers.

For his part, Héctor Medina works with his family in Catia (west Caracas). He has described this activity as a family business where his wife, daughter and grandchild are taking part by selling screws, and pipe scraps, among others.

Scalpers in the streets are the most irrefutable evidence of the profitability of the emerging business demanded by people in need of objects difficult to find in the country.

Two months ago, Pedro Tejo worked as a mechanic, yet the current crisis has compelled him to sell used tools. In his view, this is a job that finds room for bartering and where the customer’s appearance determines the object’s price.

Sociologist Mabel Mundó, a researcher from the Development Research Center (Cendes) of the Central University of Venezuela (UCV) and expert in public policies, explained the crisis is so serious that vendors lack money to invest and products are unavailable for sale.

A poverty-related chapter of a survey on the country’s living conditions conducted in 2015 by three local universities found that 75.6 (some 23 million) of nationals are poor.

The report, which was disclosed this year, warns that 49.9% of households are in extreme poverty, compared to 23.6% in 2014. “All non-extremely poor people in 2014 turned into extremely poor and the half of non-poor nationals in 2014 turned into poor in 2015.”

According to the National Statistics Institute (INE), 5,530,486 of Venezuelans lacked a formal job in 2014. 

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