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Editors Note: I am really excited to share with you a post from my friend Jose. Some of you that read The Organic Prepper or Zero Hedge are familiar with his writing. Jose went through the collapse of Venezuela and shares his knowledge with us through informative articles.
I started talking to Jose online when he joined Facebook and we found ourselves chatting quite often about preparedness, politics, and life in general.
Jose has the admirable ability to be able to keep a positive attitude despite the extreme hardship he and his family have faced and continue to battle. No matter what he is dealing with, he somehow finds the time and energy to answer questions with wisdom and compassion.
I am proud to call him my friend and glad to have him contribute to Backdoor Survival. We can all learn a lot from him. -Samantha Biggers
After all the side effects I could see in the worst of the collapse, I have decided to write some advice about concepts a prepper needs to think about, and how to apply to certain activities afterward.
The application of these concepts is very likely to mitigate the above-mentioned effects and will save time, effort and resources to the community and individuals. These are as follows:
Information management and communication
Optimizing time is going to be quite important.
Without cable TV, and gossip programs, too many people will have plenty of available time. Their minds will be looking for some different stimuli because that is the way they have been wired since a very young age. Without that, they will crave for it, originating a number of different situations to get them.
Fights, alcohol, drug abuse, sex, all kind of activities.
How do I know this?
Because I heard the stories told by those who are still there and see their neighbor’s ́ behavior…with the money, they receive from their partners abroad. In some places where blackouts are more extended than in others, people seem prone to look for some other interesting ways to spend their “free” time.
Having this said, let’s seriously analyze this now.
Yes, there will be a little more time available but at the same time, stuff is not going to be readily available. Unless your prepping level is quite high, allowing you to have an entire assortment of equipment and all kinds of gear and machines, and a stash of raw materials to be able to hold on some kind of business for a while, days will be long and not as productive as before.
It is going to be important to optimize time.
It’s even more important to learn to optimize resources.
Depending on the nature of the situation you face, local or general collapse, extinction-level stuff…then the importance of optimizing everything becomes greater.
Kids must learn to avoid useless waste of resources. Some grownups will have to learn it the hard way and try to survive.
But optimization is something that we need to manage properly.
I don ́t mean with this being cheap and imposing food rationing on people who are going through deep psychological and possibly physical impacts. I mean to induce people in our community, including children to use their imagination in creative ways to mitigate the impact of a collapse.
It’s quite interesting to have learned that in the country where I am, basic education is quite conventional and traditional, educationally speaking.
Our education in Venezuela is (yes, still IS, and we are going to fight with guns if we need, to keep it that way) based on “constructivism”.
This means giving tools to construct and guide the students to find their own ways to actually DO things.
(This explains plenty of things. Just look for our advances in the medical area related to other countries of Latin America). For example, is there is no engine oil because there are no shops nor stores, nor will there be for a good time, what creative solution could your children find?
Being a prepper, I’m actively looking for blueprints to build an oil recycling machine or a mini plant. Having been looking for some time now. Maybe your children in the future, with different tools and different mind setup, can come out with something better. (I truly hope so!)
With this concept of optimization already established under our context, now we can talk about the next step, inherently related to it: task specialization.
This has been paramount for our evolution. I can imagine an old Neanderthal, removing carefully with hits of a stone in strong but expert hands, his fine motor skills tuned up to the extreme, little bits of the edge of an obsidian stone to make a knife.
Polishing with sand in the river, and wrapping carefully a leather strip in the handle to improve the grip.
Maybe he was not as a good hunter as other ones, but his knife making abilities allowed the other ones to take advantage of their own skills much better.
To avoid wasting furs, and to slice meat taking in thin pieces, to preserve it for a few days by smoking or sun drying.
Focusing on just a few tasks is going to improve our chances to accumulate knowledge on that, and it will expand our chances of trading and merchandising successfully our product or service. It is a result of basic economic growth.
I don’t mean with this that just a few things should be produced.
On the contrary, the more diversified the products of your homestead are the better prepared you are, but trying to learn new skills, and to undertake new labors that could be so challenging can overwhelm our own capacity and is not a smart move.
I talk from experience on this.
I would love to learn about artificial intelligence to use it in some drones I’ve been thinking about developing…but just don´t have the time, nor are my resources are so plentiful that this is going to be practical in the near future.
What I can focus on is, for instance, in putting together some means to identify steel alloys with simple, primitive methods, and predict their behavior and properties upon quenching. I can make a simple forge, and put together a rig to melt aluminum scrap.
This is my thing; metals and materials.
I can grow crops for sure, but if a fellow farmer comes to my shop with an urgent need like repairing a part, the grid is down and I’m the only one around with an old biodiesel generator in 100 km around…this is an edge.
If my arrow tips are so good that can be used hundreds of times because I know how to make them properly, I have another edge.
If I can make a bow, or a big butcher knife, or a machete with a scavenged spring leaf because I know everything about how to treat the material they are made of, its properties and capabilities, I am a specialist.
And…. it will be a great contribution to the community because their job will be much easier thanks to the tools and equipment I can provide.
Given the need, it´s even possible for me to build a copper melting facility, and find some way to extrude copper to make wires. Primitive, surely odd-looking, but making a functioning wire from old, burned down, and materials that other way could be lost forever is a skill that could be very valuable in the future. You don’t even need electricity for that.
You need to know how to optimize your time, that’s for sure.
3. Information management and Communications
It´s quite strange to see and listen to the diverse opinions of Venezuelan people are regarding what has happened. However, most of them have slowly accepted a basic fact. We have to produce our own food if we don´t want to starve. Before our collapse developed, we were a society with some relative advantages regarding technology. Our industrial infrastructure was not bad compared to other countries.
Corruption of political classes, because of the excess of oil money, was the main factor impeding our further development. If I remind correctly, we had more cellphones at some moment in the past decades than any other country in Latin America. With a simple call to my bank, I could ask for a loan to my bank, any time. It was useful, though, once my parents were left stranded 800 km far from home on a car trip.
An effective communication network of some kind is going to be a need.
If I decide, for instance, to plant mustard in my cottage, is not going to do any good unless I can sell it for a good price, say, someone in the opposite side of the country that has to buy imported, processed products at a much higher price instead of the raw materials I could provide at a much lower, affordable price, under a much more reliable scheme of supplying. And a good, streamlined communication has to be established.
No matter if communications are done via cellphone (20 years of neglecting are taking its toll in the now fragile cell phone network) and the internet, but unless things start to change fast, these are going to be as ineffective and poor servicing as the NK or Cuban crappy systems. Of course, this is good for the thugs in power. People under good communication can coordinate actions much better and we know that.
Another paramount factor to give back to some degree and collaborate with the reestablishing of a certain level of normality and regularity is improving the communication grid. These days, it’s surprising for me to learn that almost no one uses the landline telephone grid anymore.
Say, you can’t send an email. But the landlines are still working well. You have stashed (like I do) an old PC with a network card that happens to work as fax too. And yes, I’ve got a quite old VGA monitor for that PC too, just to have that retro feeling (and don’t make me start talking about those wonderful mechanical keyboards of the 90s…they are a blast, still have 2). LOL.
If anything happens, and the cellphone grid is down, but landlines are still functional, establishing a quite efficient communication network between local authorities is going to be necessary, and this is a proper way. Unless there is a major disaster that impedes this infrastructure to keep working (something unlikely because of its technical principles) it is going to be one of the most efficient ways of communication.
Trading Posts and Routes Post SHTF
A “trading” post between commerce chambers for our products in our different neighbor towns, just like the old days, to bring back prosperity and welfare is the final goal. Of course, a good communications grid is not just for trading. Medical attention, for instance, and the rapid dissemination of official information.
Another important means of communication to offer our products and services is going to be the local AM/FM radios. They have been always good media resource for several reasons, and because of its unique features is very likely they are going to be there for a long time.
Communication, in the broader meaning, is not just limited to the electronic transmission of information. One of the worst effects of the collapse has been in the maintenance of streets and roadways.
Potholes everywhere and craters abundant and deep make driving slow and even painful. Because of this, a cheap, affordable and relatively efficient means of transport…are small motorcycles.
Those 125cc engines go a long way with the 30 liters per week rationing scheme imposed by the thugs. They became the only way of transport for some people, indeed. Traditionally, these small, agile and relatively fast little bikes have been used for ages by armed thugs.
I prefer heavy bikes like my own, and although she’s not so agile I can dodge potholes and other obstacles. She’s thirsty, but what can I do? Drove me one year without asking anything but a coolant, oil and filter change.
Small motorcycles are excellent for transporting a lot of things!
I’ve seen all kinds of stuff being transported from the countryside to town: boxes with chickens, pigs tied to the rack…even goats being carried by two people in those bikes. Huge potatoes bags, plantains, egg boxes, car or truck tires, whatever you can carry, I saw it being transported in those little, annoying small cylinder bikes.
With spare parts like batteries, tires, filters, and other similar for large trucks, engine oil scarcity and all kinds of roadblocks asking for papers, food confiscation, all of that, many people have found this as a solution. As a matter of fact, I find quite intriguing why this has not become more common.
Thanks for your reading, fellows. I look forward to hearing your comments!
About the Author: Jose Martinez is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on Patreon