Wealthier Venezuelans pay surrogates to stand in food lines for them

Global Business

Basic products shortages remain a concern for Venezuelan citizens. Some have been fortunate enough to find new ways to avoid long lines during the holiday season. 

CCTV America’s Martin Markovits reported this story from Caracas, Venezuela.

Wealthier Venezuelans pay surrogates to stand in food lines for them

Basic products shortages remain a concern for Venezuelan citizens. Some have been fortunate enough to find new ways to avoid long lines during the holiday season. CCTV America's Martin Markovits reported this story from Caracas, Venezuela.

Elisabeth Villaroll, 22, is a trained housekeeper, who has been given a new duty by her employer: To wait in line at the supermarket for as long as five hours, six days a week. When she gets to the front of the line, her efforts will be met with food and basic staples for her employer.

“I go to work, I talk to my boss and she leaves me a list of things to get. I go to get in line at the store in the afternoon. And then sometimes I have to get in another line later in the day depending on what products have arrived at the store,” Villaroll said.

For the mother of two, the job can leave her tired and frustrated.

“I find it a little unjust,” Villaroll said. “All human beings are supposed to be equal, but I have to do this, and they [her employers] don’t, just because they were fortunate to have a career, a company, or some other thing.”

Known as “coleras,” the use of people like Villaroll is how wealthier Venezuelans avoid lines that can last hours.

It’s a relatively new phenomenon from a country suffering from record shortages of basic goods and the highest inflation rates in the world.

Some believe their use has widened the gap between rich and poor.

“We have those who are upwardly mobile and can afford to buy basic goods at whatever price, and then there’s the population that cannot and that’s the majority of the population. It’s a simple business deal,” Ennio Cardozo, a spanish professor at Venezuela Central University said.

Waiting in line to buy food is not something many Venezuelans had to do years ago when oil prices were high. But with fuel prices plunging and inflation soaring, more people are paying others to stand in line.