Firing a gun has become a luxury. Bullets are expensive at $1 each. And with less cash circulating on the street, he says robberies just don’t pay like they used to.
For the 24-year-old, that has all given way to a simple fact: Even for Venezuelan criminals it’s become harder to get by.
Soaring inflation topped 1 million percent last year, making the local bolivar nearly useless even though ATM machines have been unable to dispense more than a dollar’s worth of scrip anyway. The severe scarcity of food and medicine has driven some 3.7 million to seek better prospects in places like Colombia, Panama and Peru — the majority of them young males from whom gangs recruit. And workdays are frequently curtailed due to nationwide strikes.
But as the country descends into a state of lawlessness, many Venezuelans who turn to crime find themselves subject to the same chaos that has led to a broader political and social meltdown.