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Being Self Sufficient Becomes Increasingly Important During Collapse: Lessons From Venezuela

Avatar for Jose Martinez Jose Martinez  |  Updated: February 11, 2020
Being Self Sufficient Becomes Increasingly Important During Collapse: Lessons From Venezuela

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As usual, I’m just going to write about my own experiences. I consider them valuable for many people out there, and I hope to provide youngsters with an insight into how things can change in a matter of a few years. I see the actual generations being much less concerned about their future.

I mention this because one can see the connection. Everything is related.  Governments NEED to extinguish the sense of self-reliance. They can’t allow people to go off-grid, because that will cause them to not rely on them.

They can’t afford for you to stop buying poultry: they need you to feed that huge machinery, buying perhaps unhealthy products, and with that money you pay, a portion is for the unionist, collected taxes, and a small revenue to keep the cycle going on forever.

They can’t afford to sustain those workers, should they one day run out of work for them, who very possibly have poor training, an investment knowledge that is almost null and tons of other different reasons. This is the product of an educational system that produces workers, and not creative, constructive, investing-savvy people.

With this, I don’t mean you take your savings out, buy a cabin somewhere and start raising chickens. On the contrary. I advise NOT doing it, at least until you understand WHY you NEED to do it. I know, senior fellows are even clearer than I am, and this will originate all kinds of wonderful comments.

But I have to write as well for our youngster fellows who are initiating themselves and opening their eyes to a new vision of the world.

I have to write for those who bravely decided to make themselves stronger, and refuse to be carried over the shoulders of a system that is going to shake them off its back in any moment without a blink.

Because you know what? 

That is exactly what they did with me.

With me, an honest citizen who produced millions of dollars for his country, working proudly, and maintaining the oil production infrastructure. That was something that made me proud as heck.

To think that my two kids in the future would walk for those same facilities and would say things like “Look at that tank? My dad inspected the floor when I was a child…and those fin fan coolers over there? Dad found they had a corrosion rate of 4 miles per year and could optimize the maintenance plans saving millions”.

Someone who punctually paid his water and power bills. Property taxes always paid yearly, and whatever other stuff law required, that was my thing. Everything within the law, if we wanted to construct a new country.

Guess what? Ruling mafia didn’t give a dang.

And they don’t care about the small guy either.

With some exceptions of course. But generally speaking…you know how they look at their citizens.

They need them slaved, tied to the cities, languishing. It’s a sin to them if you raise your own corn, vegetables, chicken, rabbits, pork, etc.

In Venezuela, this is not still so bad.

We won’t allow it, either. Should this mafia keep it up, in a short time, everyone producing food would be slaved “to produce food for the poor, instead of making rich themselves, exploiting the people”

This was Russians did in Ukraine, after all. 

This is what they want to achieve, in the end. In Venezuela, they tried (they won’t can though) via “socialism”. Stupid people realized too late where they were headed to. I’m semi-stupid: I realized before other people, but after smarter people had fled the country, so I should be somewhere between.

Average is good. 

In other countries, the mechanisms for food control are corporative, instead of official institutions like in “socialist” countries, but if you don’t see the final goal, you should read even more carefully.

You could be surprised by what you find. There are some extreme views, and maybe you hate the system so much that you refuse to spend one more dime on something you don’t produce.

But this is not exactly how it works.

With things going so bad in Venezuela, mafia guys had to ease their grip, and allow people to produce…of course, they have uniforms all over the roads charging their quota. This will have to come to an end, eventually.  These are the kind of things you can expect whenever SHTF and you have to travel to trade your production excess. 

If you want to be really protected, assuming you’re a young person, or maybe not so young but have some stuff already covered, you should be drawing a little scheme of how a homestead would provide at least the minimum you need. It’s quite rewarding and enjoyable too, and I speak from experience here. Having a cup of your own produced, and roasted-in-your-grampa-old-iron-pot coffee is a unique experience. To learn how to roast your own coffee, check out Sam’s article.

A large part of being more self-sufficient is repairing things yourself while producing as much as possible.

The most important parameter here, as far as I know, is time. If you decide to use your time to be partially self-reliant, this will mean you will have more time to repair your own furniture, for example.

Or to develop new ways to use your waste materials to produce…something. Anything. Want an example? Sure!

Assess what you have to work with and find creative ways to make the best of it.

One of my brothers is addicted to soda. We have a payload of PET bottles in my cottage. Last time there were so many that could fill up an F350 truck. No kidding. They’re a primary source of contamination, should they be buried. Dad uses them, once emptied, to carry drinking water to the cottage (underground little stream is not easily accessible…neighbors can be really possessive, but I´m sure will sort it out trading some water pipeline for some labor days so they can have running water too), but he usually leaves them up there.

I just type a few words in my browser and found a wonderful little machine-made in Europe, able to shred these bottles up to a cotton-like fiber very adequate to make furniture.

I liked natural cotton to stuff furniture, as our land is specially adapted to produce it, but in our tropical climate, it could absorb moisture and bring health problems in the rainy season some people use to call “winter”.

So this material could solve two problems at once: avoiding the PET going to the landfills to contaminate our underground water sources and serving to quite a useful purpose.

In my particular case, with my CNC, some “free” time (now that I’m not being no one slave’s anymore) I would be able to produce some interesting furniture, and with original designs (I have seen some guys in YT videos doing this already in Caracas, selling in USDs, carrying a table and 4 chairs made by themselves on the streets). Not just for my own, but for a side business.

By making some simple furniture (nothing too hard to make with the proper tools and some ingenuity) I could start to compete with those foreigners that charge an immense amount of hard-earned money to the people in my hometown for their overpriced Made-in-You-Know-Where junk that will fall apart in 5-6 years.

These foreigners have an entire importing organization, had it for many decades, and their level of “competition” is such that they deserve a close look at the authorities…something not really happening in a failed state.

But we can start competing by MANUFACTURING, generating employment, with a local production level in the amounts just needed to invest in the cottage and some other assets to improve its security and vegetable production levels. No need to arise unwanted attention.

Publishing on some form of social media, and by word-of-mouth, as soon as the first sales are done, others will come. One of my goals is (before too much time and the mattresses start to get too old) is some way to use natural cotton (from my own crops) to renew them, and see how it goes.

And like this, there are plenty of other goodies that could be produced with reasonable profit, like booze, dried vegetables, and some meat products already seasoned with natural herbs…naturally from our own garden.

Everything low-profile, charged in cash to the final customer.

No middle man. These usually generate inflation, don’t produce anything.

Face to face sales using social media is the new way to make business, especially for us smart buyers/sellers.

My first suggestion is to assess the scope of your project.

What would be your goal? Will you be able to expand your productive operations if, for example, have to receive one of your grown children with family for a while? Do you have resilience enough to keep producing the next 15 or 20 years without suffering a heart attack working at the garden and start feeding your plants instead of them feeding you? The plot you’re looking at doesn’t have a cabin or a house? Cool enough.

Think outside the box and research about going hobbit. And I don’t mean to shrink yourself, stop shaving your feet fur, nor eating 10 times a day (which I’d do if I could), but using earth as insulation against the weather, and green roofs. 

I’ve lived off the grid (back then in 2002, in the first nation-wide oil strike) time enough to tell you this, with all responsibility.

 It’s not fun if you’re jobless and depend just on limited resources. It can be stressful if children and other vulnerable members of your family depend on those limited resources to provide for them.

In Latin America, it is quite common people in smaller towns (like the one where my mom and dad live) to have a small plot of land and grow some plantains, yucca, maybe some beans and corn. Now I see how lucky we are. 

Being more self-sufficient while allowing for some extras takes time and planning.

My goal is cultivating the last square cm of land, build a small fortress and a pond, with several facilities for some small poultry/fish/meat production, an herbal vertical and horizontal garden, everything with a surveillance system, a separate composting toilet, a hot tub heated with a recirculating rocket stove closed-loop hot water system (have the place next to a few trees with an amazing view of the mountains, and can work as well as a water reservoir should a wildfire gets by), a well-protected workshop (there is going to be some expensive gear there) which is a puzzle I have yet to solve: the space within the cement brick walls is limited to under 70 sq meter, and I don´t want this facility outside the house…but I need a study with natural light to work on some projects and read/write peacefully.

The lower floor is already taken up with dad and kiddo’s room, kitchen, bathroom, and living room. Dad built it strong enough for a 2nd floor, but with all the gear and stuff, I don´t know if a 3rd floor is going to be a good idea. But it would be great if we could make it work.

One of my problems is that I can´t build my next projects in a 2nd floor to adapt motorcycles for prepping usage, like specialty racks and other stuff…I don´t want to keep sacrificing that wonderful green natural grass, a native of the place, to build another garage.

Maybe I just will find a sturdy container, build a ladder, and set it over the actual “garage” we have. Yet other facilities include a treatment passive plant for purifying rainwater (have already a preliminary design on sketched out), of course, the solar/wind power backup system, warm LEDs all over the place, and a large area with raised beds treated with a special product to reduce water usage by 90%.

Fortunately, trespassing to our place is not easy, and the borders where people can come into will be well protected. I will make sure of that. 

Latin people (and especially Venezuelans off the countryside) don’t care a dang about signs. Legally, a sign indicating “No trespassing” does not mean anything if you shoot someone inside your property: Law castles do not apply there. “Witnesses” will say the guy just was going through because he had to buy medication for his little daughter but they won’t explain why he carried a sharp machete and was 3 km away from the main road, 100 meters of a house filled up with women and small children.

Law enforcement officers usually try to take advantage of anyone falling into their hands accused of killing someone, even if such action is entirely justified…and deadly retaliation from the rest of the gang is quite common.

To be honest, riding in a banged-up truck to pick up a body under the tropical sun that will start to stink in the way to the morgue…you would be surprised how some law enforcement officers have told people to resolve their…” differences”. Especially when that “differences” are related to 4 or 5 guys getting into your place to slaughter whoever they find. You get the point. 

 But a 4 meters tall, one meter thick bush with finger-sized thorns sends a powerful message to potential trespassers.

What concerns me the most, is the time these thugs have to spy and establish routines. They don’t have any other occupation but to mess with others after all. If the SHTF took away a bunch of people (I can’t but compare our diaspora with a massive killing) this is how things would be. 

I’m a grown man, and sometimes modern life needs we attend some kind of routine even if we do not want to. You should be pretty aware of the risks that could jeopardize your activities or your peaceful life.

Mapping the entire area is a good idea. Such a document should be well preserved. This can be as complicated or as simple as you want. Use lamination film sheets or a plastic cover to protect it.

Cottage living, no matter where in the world you are, implies sacrifice.

This sacrifice doesn´t mean, of course, you have to isolate yourself. On the contrary. The idea can be attractive, but it is a certain passage to an early death. I´m not exactly the most sociable person in the world (I have some online English students and sometimes I really have to make an effort), and I enjoy my loneliness. But it´s unhealthy, and closing the bonds with neighbors can result in a huge difference in the long run. No matter how many differences one can have. The closest people after family, are neighbors.

Nosy, maybe like booze a little bit over the standard, or just plain dumb, or with annoying youngsters who play music until late night…but same as family we just can’t choose them. To be honest I´ve never had a neighbor without interest in other people’s life 4 or 5 km around.

That´s one of the less appealing aspects of my society. But it can originate funny situations if you know how to do it and you will laugh for some time afterward. 

By the way, people…if you can assist by visiting me at Patreon so I could buy a couple of masks suited for NBC, I would be much appreciated. Anything helps.

Lima has a huge international airport, is a tourist place. Lots of international travelers. I received audio coming from a Venezuelan doctor in Spain, indicating what type of masks would work, and not that fabric cotton disposable stuff. By the way, eye protection is indicated as well. 

One for the kiddo, and one for me. 


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8 Responses to “Being Self Sufficient Becomes Increasingly Important During Collapse: Lessons From Venezuela”

  1. Hey there Dan. You are right. I had already written in other site about this, and made a brief video. I have even some notes about how some farmers I know are dealing with the marauders. I am going to fulfill your request. And thanks for such an important comment and that encouragement. You’re legit and authentic.
    Stay tuned!

  2. Jose, my heart goes out to the people of Venezuela for what has happened to a once prosperous country. I personally believe that we can all learn how to make a horrible situation a little bit better by hearing first hand accounts of how people are coping under this situation. I’m not being a jerk just to be a jerk. But you certainly have the resources to make your articles about the collapse capable of keeping the reader wanting more. Interviewing your relatives, friends and or neighbors can give you a different view point to present. Perhaps giving everyone reading ideas to use in their prepping.

    I understand the situation in personal protection as it’s similar in parts of Mexico. My uncles handgun and shotguns are no match for a car load of cartel members with assault rifles. But minding his own business and situational awareness has kept him out of the path of robberies and gang shootouts. I have to really think about what I wear to not stand out like a tourist when visiting. I let my cousin’s do most of the talking because I have a tiny accent and phrase sentences that could raise an eye that I’m not from Mexico. I’d like to read more about how the people of Venezuela are dealing with safety, hiding valuables, concerns with bartering and so on. The list goes on and on.
    Take care.

  3. Dear Dan,
    You’re right, calling names is not good. But someone mocking and using the name of a trustable follower just to harm, does not deserve any clemency. I’ve written (maybe way shorter articles, and I am aware of that) for other website about this situations, but I see this is going to need a much complete version.

    Being a mature person, I’ve listened to this criticism, partially valid perhaps, and I’m going to transmutate all of these in a positive way. I’ve interviewed already some relatives living in farms, and other people who had to resource to country living to see how are they making it, specially with marauders. They don’t have it easy because there are no defense means (communists and thugs are a close partnership, just for you to know). I myself was a victim of thief in my cottage. Someone ripped off the ceiling and stole a brand new electric mower machine I’d gift to my dad. That’s why I started to plan how to fortify it in the first place. My dad installed all of the windows and doors made with steel, but the roof was a vulnerable point, and not going there in a couple of weeks made the marauders to believe that was an easy target.
    Thanks for the advice.
    Stay tuned!

  4. And calling people “troll” is certainly not winning you any points. Name calling never gets anyone anywhere. Example “Biden”.

  5. I come to this website to read and possibly learn something new. I don’t personally agree with Terri giving her million thumbs down. I ‘ll at least give the author Jose the benefit of writing something someone new to prepping might find useful. For some of us that have been at it for awhile know most of what has been written.

    Example: I have read and seen enough to know that you can’t depend on the government (ruling mafia) to take care of you, think Katrina. As the economics have changed, some people can’t depend on keeping their jobs. As the article states, having a side job or hobby to earn extra money can be a good thing. Being as self sufficient as possible is a wonderful way to not be dependent on someone else. I currently live in a suburb with a small lot. But I manage to grow some of my produce to save money and get some exercise. Having chickens, cattle, or pigs is not feasible for most people. Bottom line, learn as many skills as possible to save money that could be used for other things that need to be done. Saving for a rainy day is true today, as it was back in the day.

    Again, I don’t condone a thumbs down on the article as someone new might find it partially useful. But in all honesty, it just seemed like regurgitated material. Perhaps giving examples of how people are copping with the hyper inflation that’s happening in Venezuela could be useful. Perhaps stories of how people are having to defend themselves from gangs/mauraders would be worth reading besides planting thorny bushes. How are people staying under the radar while others in the same community go without could be useful for some. Being x amount of km’s away from your nearest neighbor isn’t what readers are looking to read.

    • Terri – what is wrong with you? You must not have enough real-world experience to know when someone else is speaking from experience and not just making things up that sound pretty.

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