Economic Collapse Watch: Wading In Polluted Rivers Trying To Find ANY Scrap Precious Metal In Order To Eat

Finding an earring backing made of silver, or a gold wedding ring, may be all the difference between eating and going hungry in Venezuela…

For anybody who has not seen “gold for bread”, it chronicles the struggles in Zimbabwe amidst the hyperinflation. Ultimately, they resorted to gold as the currency of last resort, which history shows happens time and time again:

Most recently, Venezuela is the country that finds itself in a hyper-inflationary death spiral. Last week we reported how on a national level, Venezuela is trading gold for medicine.

While history doesn’t repeat, it sure is rhyming.

Here’s a report coming from the Associated Press that Venezuelans are now scouring the polluted rivers in hopes of finding some precious metal:

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Angel Villanueva waded into the dirty brown water of the Guaire River, the putrid channel snaking through Venezuela’s capital, where he hoped to scavenge for a bit of treasure.

He raked his hands across the bottom of the shallow waterway, turning his face away from the foul smell. Then he stood up, letting gravel and rocks fall through his fingers, scanning for an earring backing, lost rings or any other bits of precious metal to cash in for food.

Scavenging alongside two others, Villanueva, 26, kept an eye on the dark clouds buffeting the mountains that surround Caracas. They could burst at any time, leaving him minutes to get out — or be washed away to his death.

“Working in the Guaire isn’t easy,” he said, talking over the roar of traffic on a nearby highway. “When it provides, it provides. When it takes, it takes your life.”

Images of poor Venezuelans eating from garbage piles in Caracas have come to symbolize the deepening economic crisis in what was once one of Latin America’s wealthiest countries. Less visible are the young men and boys who comb the Guaire’s dirty waters for any sliver of metal that might help feed their families.

They appear at times to be playing, shirtless and laughing in groups. The sun reflects off their rounded backs as they bend, scoop up rocks and toss them aside with a splash.

The water is notoriously filthy — a drain for rainwater from the streets and sewers, along with industrial waste and an occasional treasure.

“As long as I can remember, the Guaire was this open sewage,” said Alejandro Velasco, a native of Caracas and professor of Latin American history at New York University. “It certainly seems to reflect the depth and extent of the desperation that this particular crisis has spawned.”

While short on details, we no less see the daily struggle poor Venezuelans are having in their country:

Villanueva first waded into the river six months ago, invited by a friend. His first day’s work cashed in at $20, and he was hooked, despite jibes back in his neighborhood from those who tell him to stay away because he smells like the Guaire.

Another scavenger working with Villanueva wears a plastic pill bottle strung around his neck, holding his finds. He pours into his palm broken links of a keychain and an old coin, possibly worth something in Bolivar Plaza, where vendors offer cash for gold.

Villanueva doesn’t know anybody who has died from rising water, but stories abound of others washed away never to be found. Villanueva says gathering clouds and more trash than normal being washed from banks upriver tell him that the water is rising, and he has less than 15 minutes to get out.

Also interesting to note, both in this article and in the article last week about the government of Venezuela paying for meds in gold, there is not one mention of Bitcoin or cryptocurrency, as so many of the Bitcoiners would have you believe.

Stack Accordingly

– Half Dollar


About the Author

U.S. Army Iraq War Combat Veteran Paul “Half Dollar” Eberhart has an AS in Information Systems and Security from Western Technical College and a BA in Spanish from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Paul dived into gold & silver in 2009 as a natural progression from the prepper community. He is self-studied in the field of economics, an active amateur trader, and a Silver Bug at heart.

Paul’s free book Gold & Silver 2.0: Tales from the Crypto can be found in the usual places like Amazon, Apple iBooks & Google Play, or online at Paul’s Twitter is @Paul_Eberhart.