Weeks of protests in Caracas big hurdle for small businesses

World Today

Near-daily demonstrations in Caracas are taking a toll on those who work in Venezuela’s capital.

Shops and small businesses often must close down for hours at a time to avoid violence.

CGTN’s Juan Carlos Lamas visited one small business to see how it’s been affected by the unrest.

It was early in the morning and Mairim Gonzalez was hoping that she’ll be able to keep the doors of her hair salon open.

Two months into near daily anti-government protests, Mairim often closes her shop mid-day to make sure employees and customers are somewhere else if police confront the protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas.

“As the protests continue, it makes things difficult not only for me, but for my employees, because from this hair salon we get the money we need to survive and if we close we will be left with nothing,” said the hair salon owner.

Mairim opened this salon eight years ago. She said that her regular customers started cutting back on their appointments months ago even before the opposition’s regular marches through the neighborhood began.

Venezuela is a country known for its success in international beauty pageants and for many women here, regular salon visits have been a way of life. But Venezuela is now also known as the country with the highest rate of inflation in the world.

“Due to the situation in the country sadly I come here when I can, but most of my money is for food, so I can rarely come here,” Jackeline Vasquez, one of the hair salon’s customers said.

Manicurist Veronica Santamaria says most people who work in the salon have seen their incomes reduced by about 50 percent in the last three years.

As the political unrest in Venezuela continues to escalate, the unrest itself is affecting the economy with hundreds of thousands of people across the country either joining the marches or choosing to stay home out of harm’s way.

According to the government, Venezuela’s businesses have lost more than 100 million dollars since the protests began losses which trickle down from entrepreneurs to employees, affecting hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans.