Venezuela by all appearances is a terrific place. Beautiful beaches, excellent weather, and a landscape to admire.
But the on-the-ground reality paints a different story as the country experiences one of its biggest economic and humanitarian crises in recent years.
Amid the hardship and toil facing this Latin American nation, many citizens are turning to cryptocurrency as a financial option. And in a remarkable story on the philanthropic side of crypto, there is news of how users on the cryptocurrency subreddit are donating tons of food to poor neighborhoods in Venezuela.
VENEZUELA: A TALE OF ECONOMIC STRUGGLE
Venezuela is a rather peculiar case. In a short period of time it has gone from being one of Latin America’s most developed countries to a place mired in deep hyperinflation. In fact, according to Hanke’s Annual Misery Index, Venezuela has been considered the most miserable country in the world for 5 consecutive years.
The truth is — hyperinflation is taking a tough toll on the country. The average salary among citizens is less than 10 dollars a month. And every day the bolivar, the local currency, is worth less and less.
Prices are now set in U.S. dollars or Colombian pesos. Merchants need to put the prices in dollars to cover their back and avoid future losses.
But, amidst all this unfortunate situation, there is a small threshold of hope. To combat hyperinflation, many Venezuelans have sought alternatives. That’s where cryptocurrency has emerged
THE CRYPTO MOVEMENT IN VENEZUELA: HOW IT ALL STARTED
The economic crisis has made Venezuelans quite receptive to cryptocurrencies. That is why we are not surprised when we hear that Venezuela consistently ranks first in volume worldwide on LocalBitcoins. Many started mining. Others have decided to trade.
Also, many people abroad started to help their relatives by sending them cryptocurrencies. It was relatively easier and less expensive than sending a remittance by traditional means.
According to Chainalysis’s 2020 cryptocurrency adoption index, Venezuela ranks third in the world among the countries that use cryptocurrencies the most. This gives a very broad picture of a country whose economic reality is a challenge for its citizens.
Cryptocurrencies offers one an option to save and avoid the consequences of inflation. Yet, it is now showing that it is much more than that. This time, it was the opportunity for a young Venezuelan woman to help people in her community.
MEAL VENEZUELA: FOOD DONATIONS AND CRYPTO AS A MEANS
This is the story of u/CaracasGirl, a Venezuelan Reddit user. In March, she did an announcement in the silver subreddit. There, she explained the situation she, her family, and many Venezuelans are going through. Most of these problems were due to the economic crisis but were only exacerbated by the pandemic.
Here, she explained some doubts about the acquisition of gold and silver in Venezuela. For example, silver is absurdly cheap in Venezuela. She also explained how many Venezuelans have been forced to sell their belongings to pay for services and food.
After this post, many Reddit users showed solidarity. People not only asked her about the quality of life in the country — they started donating cryptocurrencies. And this was just the beginning of something bigger.
Thanks to the donations made, this girl started a project to help those people most affected by the crisis, particularly the elderly and children. This is how Meal Venezuela was born, a project that has now helped dozens of families during its first month of launching. All by using P2P money transfers through cryptocurrencies.
Many families have been forced to eat only once a day to save food for the whole week. With this initiative, Meal Venezuela volunteers contact families in this situation and deliver bags of food to them.
In just a little bit over a month, they have delivered 4.4 tons of food to different families.
Many may talk about Lambos and whatnot, but this human side of crypto is worth more than any expensive car. It shows how it is possible that despite the situation, there will always be someone to lend a helping hand. u/CaracasGirl has been documenting week after week the various food deliveries. If you are interested in donating, you can visit the Meal Venezuela website here.