The Value of Skills in Venezuela’s Barter Economy (and For Those Who Bug Out)

by | Jul 30, 2018 | Headline News | 19 comments

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    This article was originally published by J.G. Martinez D. at The Organic Prepper

    You can’t overestimate the value of skills in a barter economy like the one in Venezuela. Those with skills survive, and those without are suffering terribly.

    Plenty has been written about the economy since writing itself was invented. However, this basic aspect of our daily lives is not taken as seriously as it should be. The reasons, I could not explain them; however, at a young age, I took some interest, because I noticed very quickly how it affected my wellbeing and my environment.

    The more employment in a city, the less crime, generally speaking. And you could start an independent side business, and make it thrive. This is not possible any longer in Venezuela, of course. The distortions (artificially generated by the government mafia) are too strong and have been there for too long. The only possible outcome is a full reset of everything: government, police, military, and economy.

    Once this is done, THEN we will proceed to rebuild our republic, and the society will come back to our former ethical background.

    In recent weeks, there has been another devaluation of our currency. This is incredible for those who never lived in Venezuela. It was expected for those of us who, having done a proper research, could see exactly what is happening, and why they do what they do. Depopulation, that is the key for them to survive. For the rest of us, survival depends on something different entirely.

    Services, not products

    This said, I have received reports about bartering increasing in frequency. My dad regularly receives payments in eggs, flour, pork meat, or a chicken (raised on a small farm, not those industrial ones with poultry filled with hormones).

    Not being a professional of the economy, I needed to read a lot to learn as much as I could. Thankfully I know about math and that was pretty useful. The economies have to be based in one of this functioning premises: or a service-based economy, or a production-based one. This is the big picture, and I am not an expert nor do I pretend to be one.

    The special perception about this is that, under a survivalist/prepper approach, it is much more valuable if your skill set allows you to provide some sort of service, rather than some type of product. Even if this is food or some kind of medication, and you must produce plenty of it.

    The reason is simple: most of the time you will be able to bring with you the “service” you provide. If you are a translator, or a mathematics/chemistry/physics teacher, or a good mechanic, or are a dentist/surgeon with some basic instruments, and unless wrenches, screwdrivers, and other tools are banned in some part of the world, you will have something to sell: your skill and knowledge.

    If, for whatever reason, you have to leave your headquarters, you won´t be without a dime, and the possibility to overcome financial obstacles will be there, as you have something useful to bargain with.

    For those of you that like drinking, and are thinking about stashing alcohol, please DO so. You will have a great source of wealth is something goes bad. And even better, if you know how to produce sustainably some kind of liquor, and have the equipment, your future is secured. Even if nothing happens, and your business is legit, it is a good idea as a side business.

    Music is surprisingly useful

    The good part of having discovered this is that my younger kid loves to sing, and after a few classes in his new school he seems to have some future on that line of work. That is entirely thanks to his mom, and I must acknowledge this, with God as my witness!

    I had to study because of the general lack of any kind of special capabilities, in most of the areas: mechanics, welding, woodworking, painting, etc. LOL. Oh, I could play some very simple songs in a guitar, but I doubt that “Dominique,nique,nique” will be again a huge top ten hit like was back there in 1964.

    Music has always been a part of the society. It brings us to a pleasant mood, relaxes, and allows us to keep the juice flowing by dancing, and having fun. Even refugees must have fun once in a while. It is part of the survival: entertainment is paramount to allow the brain some relief and find again the reasons that made us embrace our choices, as hard as they can be.

    If someone in your family has an ability for this, encourage them to do so. Every member should have able to develop their vocation, as far as they can. One of the girls I grew up with, is a wonderful country singer (Venezuelan country) and, albeit she got her degree, she made a lot more money singing in the weekends than what she would have made with her salary.

    And the expat community in Australia (the only place farther away from Venezuela after Australia is the moon) gathers every weekend in a place where those who play music (we have a 4-stringed instrument of our own, just like your banjo and it is called a cuatro or Spanish for “four”). There are plenty of videos of Venezuelan typical music for you to enjoy. Most of it is happy and talks about love, country living, and the simple things. There is a wonderful metaphor, written by an artist called Reinaldo Armas, one of the big guys in Venezuelan typical music. It talks about the conversation between an airplane and a vulture. Yes, a vulture. It is a wonderful lesson about being humble, but not losing the dignity, and make others respect you. If you want some links or the translated lyrics, please let me know. I will be more than pleased.

    The more we learn about our cultures, the better we will understand each other. For me, using my language skills to be able to communicate with wonderful, supportive, appreciative people is a big thing. And I give thanks to God every day for people like you that read my stories and encourage me to keep going.

    Skills are important when you leave, too.

    Depending on the particular traits of the disaster that made you leave, you may or may not have something to offer. Plumbing, painting, most manual labor that needs some degree of expertise will be a valuable asset. There is a lot of work around here for people who know how to laminate MDF boards. But as I know my woodworking skills, and I need all my fingers in their place to keep typing for you, this is not an option for me.

    If you happen to be in a strange place and have some mechanics knowledge, great. You will be able to get together or even receive as a gift some tools and collect enough money for renting a place. This will allow a good degree of freedom and independence.

    I know, as I mentioned probably already some knowledge of motorcycles, and it is something that I am considering. We bikers are a very supportive community with each other. I myself have helped bikers in distress on the road while traveling by car with my family and some group needed help. I will find some time to go to the Harley dealer and see how things are over there. The only leather jacket I have with me is for motorcycling, so this will allow another fellow biker to recognize a similar. And it is already with some wear that means I am not a rookie neither.

    Things continue to get worse in Venezuela

    These last few weeks there has been a lot of protesting, but you won´t see that on the government web pages. You will see how the “socialist” prisons have “reeducated” inmates, and all the wonderful handmade stuff they have “produced”.

    But you won´t see the nurse who wears sandals made from cardboard, nor the doctors dressed in their white robes, stethoscopes and all over a truck, protesting because of the lack of medicines.

    The worst part is the repressive methodology, systematically executed, and that the rest of the countries seem not to care. People, there is a medical doctor, last name Marulanda, who lost hearing in one ear from being beaten at a protest. He was one of the protesters in the largest public hospital: the Hospital of Universidad Central if I recall correctly. It is in the social networks, like Tweeter.

    These thugs are not playing. They don´t care to beat and kill professionals and students. They encourage the brutality in the treatment of their “security” forces. They are merciless. The chubby from Utah was untouched just because they thought they could (and probably did) get some dollars in cash. But my homies Venezuelans have no money to bribe anyone, and they have suffered a terrible destiny.

    I want to give special thanks to those who have been able to send some kind of very needed support, especially these days.

    God bless us all people, and I ask a special blessing for you, as my readers, but at the same time, you have learned how to get a place close to our hearts.

    See you next week!


    About the Author

    Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has a small 4 members family, plus two cats and a dog. An old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Thanks to your help Jose has gotten his family out of Venezuela. They are currently setting up a new life in another country.

    The Pantry Primer

    Please feel free to share any information from this article in part or in full, giving credit to the author and including a link to The Organic Prepper and the following bio.

    Daisy is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting, homeschooling blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, and the pursuit of liberty on her websites, The Organic Prepper and She is the author of 4 books and the co-founder of Preppers University, where she teaches intensive preparedness courses in a live online classroom setting. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter,.


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      1. It is really hard to feel sorry for Venezuelans. I am reminded of the words of that great philosopher John Wayne: “Life’s tough. It’s tougher if you’re stupid.”

        You get the government you deserve.
        Venezuelans deserve what they have.
        Venezuelans are stupid.

      2. Stew,
        Kinda sorta. If you plot intelligence on a “Bell” curve you will find the majority of a population is on the left. When you have a “Democracy” you find that the majority of the people are little better than idiots, willing to vote themselves lots of “free” things they believe they are entitled to. Somewhat like Democrats in America. These “Democracies” drag down everyone except the rich and the armed. Just because my neighbor is an idiot, doesn’t mean I deserve the fate and government that idiots like him tolerate or elect.
        The author looks to have escaped to Australia, another socialist workers paradise, but not as far gone as others. I wish him well.

        Meanwhile I make preparations to survive my Government, which while a Republic that somewhat protects me from the idiot masses, is heading down that socialist rat hole, full speed ahead.

      3. This nation is NOT a democracy since the WHITE men who established it knew what would happen.

        First, the people don’t make the laws. The Representative of the people do. That is why we are a Republic.

        AND, how are the Representatives chosen? Hopefully by those who are smart enough, and that does NOT include everybody.

        This is why the “right to vote” is not a right. It is a privilege and it was RESTRICTED on purpose for those who would be the brightest of the population:

        1) White
        2) Men
        3) Property Owners.

        This would insure, at best, that the “best” would vote and pick the representatives. The “founding fathers” KNEW that women, slaves, Indians, Chinese men, and those who don’t own anything (no responsibility) should NEVER vote since they are all parts of a “dumber” group, or groups that would vote as a tribe, not a nation.

        Why didn’t they put this in the Constitution? I believe it is because they could not imagine “we” being that stupid.

        They were right. We didn’t listen and now we will collapse and are facing a violent, hideous Civil War 2 coming soon to YOUR neighborhood.

      4. I see Martinez is still begging for money. Sad. Not falling for it though.

      5. I have been primarily promoting ancestral skills since I was a child many decades ago. Among our ancestors, one was not an adult by virtue of age, but by virtue of character and ability and spirituality. These were the attrbutes that made others consider you to be mature.

        But there it is an error to only consider developing a skill. Nope. You develop many, maybe a hundred ancestral skills just to exist, but hone at keast one ancestral skill for trade.

        After the SHTF, it may be a long time before trade is reestablished, and even if it is, then theft will most likely occur of crops and goods you created. That has to be stable BEFORE one can even attempt to trade an ancestral skill as a service in exchange for crops or manufactured goods.

        And then, many ancestral skills that are services require supplies. Unless you can also manufacture the supplies or harvest them, then it really doesn’t matter if you are a great master carpenter.

        If you are going to make shoes or sandals, you need sources of leather to tan and likely tires to fabricate the soles. The latter is a well known business in 3rd world countries at the village level.

        You should cultivate many ancestral skills primarily to take care of your family and cross-train skills so that if you perish, someone else has those skills as well.

        It may be years before things are stable enough for trade in skills to happen…at least in SHTF scenarios.

        In minor economic collapse, say like Argentina, then yes, barter networks start up fairly soon.

        Note that trade flourished in North, Central, and South America during Native American times to such a degree that very large cities could exist and trade items from very far away ended up in diverse places like salt.

        You should read up on history about what cash crops existed because for a service to be traded implies a wealthy class willing to pay for it versus doing it themselves.

        • Maranatha, I learned the value and practicality of honing skills in the early 80s when I was young. In Oregon at that time it was a serious depression for construction related endeavors and there was little work for about 5 years or more. Myself and a friend worked pretty much straight thru all of it because we were highly skilled carpenters and concrete workers. The two of us could do what might normally take 6 guys or more and we did it better ! Those were some serious tough years physically and mentally to get thru. But I now look back at it as some of the best productive and learning years of my life related to work or my career. We were an incredible team and got hooked up with some wealthy Russians out of Santa Clara Kawlweefornya. We built some incredible intricate homes on the Mckenzie river and lived in the woods for several years even in the dead of winter. All of my life experiences have been quite incredible actually and all have helped me to this day in many ways. Mostly just by paying attention along the way. And there is no question somebody has always been looking out for me for sure ! I did not fully realize that until fairly recently, maybe 10 or 20 years ago, not sure exactly.But that was still around 50 or so before I fully understood much of anything in depth. Skills are very good to have no doubt, but understanding and intelligence are even better and the three combined are as good as it gets !

      6. Venezuelans can take comfort in the fact that “Where they are at, they will soon have company”. Misery loves company.

      7. This said, I have received reports about bartering increasing in frequency.

        (raised on a small farm, not those industrial ones with poultry filled with hormones).

        I really don’t think this guy is actually in Venezuela or actually in the crisis. I think his articles are a fraud.

        Two sentences jump out at me in his article. The first, having only “received reports” if he was there he would be doing bartering, not receiving reports.

        The other, if you are starving and in SHFT, who gives a flying shit if chickens had extra hormones added to them?
        Seems a strange comment to add to an article if you are living in the middle of a crisis.

        I suspect this person is a fraud trying to make money by pretending to be in SHTF in Venezuela.

        He has articles on a number of other sites, but they are all the same article. Has anybody actually checked his validity and credibility?

        • John, if I recall correctly he said in an early article that he was able to leave before it got too bad. He still communicates with family/friends that couldn’t get out.

        • john stiner, many articles on prepper sites are frauds, nothing new at all.

      8. Music is surprisingly useful

        During Hurricane Rita in 2005 I lost power at my house for 7 days. My kids were suffering noticeable anxiety during this time. On day 5 I installed a whole house generator and generated power running into the house.

        With in one hour of turning the TV back on all the anxiety left the kids. A simple return to normalcy calmed the kids down immediately.

        Don’t forget to include entertainment into your survival plan.

      9. Music creates the semblance of normalcy. If one made a solar backup generator, which is not much more than some minor controls, a deep cycle marine battery, a solar trickle charger, a charge controller, and an inverter, then one could allow mp3 players to be recharged as a reward for finishing chores and good behavior.

        I think you’ll find that many low energy devices can be charged with one and therefore have a way to have electronic resoiurces for home schooling and a reference library.

        Meanwhile such a trickle charger can keep your car battery recharged as you won’t be running the aternator as much.

        • Maranatha , if you live in a place with lots of sun days all of that is rather easy to accomplish today and cost effective on a small scale. Charging batteries is easy today. Parabolic mirrors are also a very easy way to generate a tremendous amount of heat that can be easily concentrated or focused for various uses as well. Very powerful devices.

          I am not at sure sure there is such a thing as normal ?

      10. Off Topic:

        Australia’s gun rights and the massacre in Tasmania. A politician in Australia announced before the incident/shooting/mass murder in Tasmania that the only way to get a restriction of gun rights was to have a massacre in Tasmania. The massacre gave Australia that result and automatic weapons are now banned.

        The massacre was exposed because of two main reasons. The real shooter was so spectacularly efficient, skilled, and trained; and, the patsy was a 60 IQ mentally retarded left handed (shooter right handed) youth who ran from the building unarmed with his back on fire yelling “don’t shoot, I’m one of the hostages”.

        A general in the military said that the massacre’s real shooter must be in the top twenty best marksmen in the world. Clearly this is a government created massacre for political outcome, (gun control).

        Other mass murders are also looking more and more like government and or Organized Crime, Masonic Law enforcement, and pedophilia/ritual child murder, Satanism. Cases such as the Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Eileen Werenos (Hells Angels/CIA created) and many others including Jeffrey Dahmer. Gacy and Bundy had known political connections. Gacy’s house was simply where the bodies were kept. He didn’t know how many of the victims died. Half a dozen people had keys to the house. Not very good opsec for serial killing.

        _ All this info is available on the internet. More creepy than the idea that there are crazy killers is that these crazy killers are running the government and hold the reigns of power. Richard Ramirez alluded to mass murder under the heading of “war”. What exactly was he trying to tell us?


        • “All this info is available on the internet”

          Well there you go. It must be true then….

      11. I’m re-reading The Postman by David Brin regardless that he wrote it to promote democratic ideas. In it, the protagonist is having a terrible time with his worn out mocassins. It takes place 16 years after many different SHTF events and that is all they have.

        Similarly in history, during the Lewis and Clark expeditions, they wore out shoes and lots of mocassins and their clothing was down to rags.

        A talented person converting tires into soles could repair shoes and make new shoes until finally the dry rot ruined all the tires.

        Imagine walking miles in worn out mocassins. They just don’t hold up and travel would be awful without flexible tough soles.

      12. As I have stated before, next door to Venezuela is Colombia, where I have spent much time. Unlike Venezuela, Colombia has an elected right wing government and has been for the last 15 years or so in a great expansion of the economy with hi rise buildings being built in any direction you look. Mention Colombia and it evokes only the thoughts of war and drugs, but that is not at all todays Colombia. In 2002 they elected a tough Trump like president who for the first time in 50 years stood up to the rebels instead of appeasing them and was the first to do damage to the commie rebels. The commies had killed this presidents father and he held no mercy. Little by little the country became safer and the economy took off. Venezuela went the other way and declared socialism was the way of the future. The future is now,, and guess which country is starving and which is booming. You wont see this comparison in the media. KF

      13. Skills – is a key part of my longer term pre- and post- SHTF scenario. You can bet taxes will climb rapidly as the government tries to fend off default. The underground economy and bartering will increase as people avoid higher taxes. (Use Greece as a modern example). Of course, avoiding tax is more difficult with electronic money!

        Longer term, as others have said, you won’t have supplies and parts and stores stocked with everything you need. But shoe repair is rarely about the uppers – it is the sole and the attachment of the upper to the sole. There won’t be an auto parts store, but the guy who knows how to pull a starter off a Ford pickup sitting in a junk yard will eat. And your blue jeans will be repaired by someone who remembers how to sew. Farmers might still grow wheat, but if have a hand operated mill to grind it, you will eat. And as Selco pointed out, the guy who knew how to refill Bic Lighters did just fine.

        You will have to be careful (or well stocked) for skills that need parts or supplies. Your ammo reloading business ends when you run out of such supplies. Your moonshine business ends when you run out of mash and jugs. Be well stocked in your hobby if you want to eat!

      14. I hope every has a handmill and a backup because milling grain is NOT EASY. If you think it is, try making something to mill grain. It takes a craftsman to fabricate a quern. Even the best quern produces GRIT and this wears on the enamel of your teeth. All milling produces grit.

        To make a river powered mill under SHTF conditions requires serious engineering, tools, supplies, skills, and labor. Most would fail.
        I dare say that 1 in a thousand could make a quern that would be successful. Rather most would pound grain as they do in Africa which takes more in work calories than you ingest meaning you must have an ABUNDANCE of food, time, and strength to even attempt it.

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