Venezuela’s Guaire River Helps Some Earn More Than Professionals

Salaries in Venezuela are not enough to keep up with the inflation but a group of people are risking their lives to earn a lot more than most professionals in the country. These people sit in the polluted Guaire river, which flows through the nation’s capital of Caracas.

The people that search the river are known as ”garimpeiros”, which in Portuguese means someone who searches for minerals. The situation has gotten so bad in the country that many have decided to step into the river and see what they can find.

In recent months, the number of people searching the river has increased. The majority of them spend hours in the polluted waters to find a piece of gold or anything of value. This isn’t good for their health but it helps them earn a lot more than most professionals in the country.

A garimpeiro can earn up to 19 times the minimum salary with just a few pieces of gold or jewelry that ends up in the river. In recent weeks, many of them have been interviewed by those who post news on social media. Many of them know the risks of going through the polluted river but most say they have no other choice.

The Venezuelan government has raised the minimum salary several times in recent years but the Bolivar continues to lose value. A minimum salary is just a little over $2, according to the unofficial exchange rate, which is the one that is used in the country since the Venezuelan government is the only one that has access to the official exchange rate.

The garimpeiros risk their health for a much higher salary and many have decided to join them. The number of people entering the river recently caught the attention of authorities, who showed up to the river and detained those there. At least 15 people were removed and transported to detention centers, according to local media.

El Nacional newspaper reports that some of the people detained explained that gold and valuable stones can be found in the river. A lot of them decided to enter the polluted river after hearing others talk about the valuable things that can be found there. One of the garimpeiros explained that rainy days are the best since the waters remove pieces of gold, earrings and rings.

 

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