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About the Author

Marianne Diaz
Writer, Lawyer, Activist (Valencia, Venezuela)

Venezuelan lawyer and fiction writer. Blogger for Amnesty International on Human Rights issues. Author for Global Voices Advocacy. Interested in gender, poverty and work issues, and freedom of speech and information.


Venezuela: Work, unemployment and discrimination

Published 20th June 2010 - 1 comments - 7297 views -

A  street vendor in Venezuela (Photo by: Inti)An unemployed person in Venezuela can face a lot of different thoughts and decisions before s/he lands in a stable economic situation.

First of all, s/he will give a look to the adverts, only to find her/himself in a new disjunctive:

- If we're talking about a young man between ages 18 and 35, with a high school degree, most of the adverts will address you. Chances are you're gonna get a job -eventually- as a waiter or cashier in some kind of bussiness, where you're gonna make minimum wage and will need two more people working in your family in order to afford the basic food basket. Is either that, or you can get a job as a factory workman, where you'll make from four to eight times the minimum wage, but you'll have to work up to sixty hours a week and end up with a slipped disk when at age thirty. It's up to you.

- If we talk about a young women in the same range of age, with only a high school degree, you'll face a tough reality. Over half of the job offers addressed to you, are going to be looking for a young, high and "well-looking" lady with "presentability", in order to be a "companion lady". Some of those jobs offer a pay that's everything but despicable, and may range between $1.400 and $7.000 a month. May you please not feel tempted, and continue reading those other job offers that also address you, and most likely are as waitress, cook, cleaning lady or secretary, and offer to pay you around $270 (again, minimum wage).

--If you're a man with an universitary degree, you'll be disappointed at first. You'll find that newspapers don't have any job offer for you, and you'll move towards the web. There, you'll see two possible scenarios. First, jobs which ask you to be recently graduated, and offer to pay you... minimum wage. You'll probably apply, because you're starting to dispair, and you'll see that there are other 375 people applying to that same post. Secondly, you'll see those other job offers, the ones which pay you between two and four minimum wages ($500 - $1000). Those, ask you to be between 25 and 35 years old, to have more than 5 years of experience, and to have a masters degree at least. A little dissapointing, but what can you do.

- If you're a woman in that same escenario, you'll see kind of the same situation, but yours have a catch: despite it's forbidden by law, around 1/3 from those job offers will say something as: "Seeking Lawyer, sex: male". So you'll see that in those ads which doesn't say that, there aren't 375 people applying, but 700. And, what can you do.

Anyway, eventually, you'll get an interview, after applying to 200 job posts. And there is a new catch: if you had the idea of applying to a job within the public administration, there is a little thing called the "Tascon List". The president said five years ago that he expressely forbid its use, but no one listened, apparently. And that thing basically means that, if you signed in support to ask for a recall election for Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, you're banned from obtaining a job post within the public administration (even if that position is, as most are, non-related with anything political).

And, you know, there is a second catch the other way around. It is smaller, but it exists: If you worked for a mission, for a ministry, for anything that smells pro-government, you're gonna have a hard time finding a job in the private sector, specially if you're an experienced professional, suitable for a management position.

Finally, I don't think that never ever the government and the opposition are going to agree in that unemployment figure, always ranging between 6 and 10%. But there is another issue: informal work is always over 40%, sometimes almost 48%. Which means that more than half of our productive population doesn't have an stable job.

That's something that doesn't surprise me, given all the above data I have obtained working for our Ministry of Work and Social Security, which I have done until two weeks ago. Which keeps me thinking is that even I have observed that situation directly, through my work, for almost three years, I have yet to find a hipotetical solution for that. And my mind keeps spinning.

Is informal job, as government sustains, a suitable source of employment? Even if that over 40% of population doesn't have social security, appropiate healthcare, vacations and other benefits that are guaranteed by law?

Is it honest to assume that this 40% of population is not unemployed? Even if they're subject to be evicted in any minute, their street posts removed because they're illegal?

There are so many issues in the subject that I can't even think which one have to be firstly solved. Low wages, discrimination by sex, by political affiliation, few job offers, little encouragement to professionals.

If you have any ideas, I'd really appreciate to get to know other points of view, ideas or opinions.


The featured photo belongs to Inti, and it's under a Creative Commons license on Flickr.

Category: Poverty | Tags:


  • Sylwia Presley on 25th July 2010:

    Add on the top of that the issues with psychology of the unemployed, lack of encouragement, short term thinking, and often depression which does not help at all!

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