A bridge to the market basket by Felipe Carranza


Jose, 66 years old, bricklayer He spent 19 hours traveling and buying the products. 2.3 minimum wage equivalent to 23 USD aprox. Sugar, rice, oil, soap, diapers.

The minimum wage in Venezuela stands at 40,638 bolivars per month (just $10, according to the unofficial exchange rate on dolartoday.com).

In 2016, Venezuela’s inflation hit 800%. This situation—combined with a shortage of basic products—has forced many people to go to the nearest country to fill their basic market basket.

One of the most important places for this exchange is Arauca, Colombia. Here, people spend between 3 and 20 hours crossing the border in order to buy their basic products before returning home. In most cases, the investment goes beyond a single minimum wage, yet these individuals have no other choice.

To further complicate matters, in order to get to Arauca, people have to cross a single international bridge. By order of the Venezuelan government, vehicles are not allowed, so people have to cross by walking. This bridge is the only legal connection between Columbia and Venezuela in this area; many people (primarily those without papers) use a boat to cross over illegally. The border is only open from 5am-8pm, and the Venezuelan government has set a limit on the amount of products that can enter the country; two bags per person, though sometimes the Venezuelan police can be bribed to allow for more. That is where these portraits were made.

The idea behind this project was to show the lengths that Venezuelan people have to go in order to get basic products that many of us take for granted—as they can’t find them in their home country. I also wanted to highlight how much they have to spend on these items. Oftentimes they have to spend more than their monthly salary to buy just a few basic products. [Official Website]

Diana, 20 years old - Ines, 24 years old, shop assistants They spent 3 hours traveling and buying the products. 1.6 minimum wage equivalent to 16 USD. Rice, sugar, oil, cornmeal.
Diana, 20 years old – Ines, 24 years old, shop assistants. They spent 3 hours traveling and buying the products. 1.6 minimum wage equivalent to 16 USD. Rice, sugar, oil, cornmeal.

“I felt that making a photo project would be the best way to express my feelings and point of view about this situation. I wanted to make a clear statement about how these people are forced to live”

Flores, 23 years old, housewife 2 minimum wage equivalent to 20 USD aprox. She spent 3 hours traveling and buying the products. Rice, soap, cornmeal.
Flores, 23 years old, housewife. 2 minimum wage equivalent to 20 USD aprox. She spent 3 hours traveling and buying the products. Rice, soap, cornmeal.

A bridge to the basic market A bridge to the basic market A bridge to the basic market A bridge to the basic market A bridge to the basic market A bridge to the basic market A bridge to the basic market A bridge to the basic market A bridge to the basic market

Andres, 40 years old, tradesman He spent 3 hours traveling and buying the products. 1.6 minimum wage equivalent to 16 USD aprox. Toilet paper.
Andres, 40 years old, tradesman. He spent 3 hours traveling and buying the products. 1.6 minimum wage equivalent to 16 USD aprox. Toilet paper.
Elvira, 37 years old, cleaner She spent 3 hours traveling and buying the products. 1.5 minimum wage equivalent to 15 USD aprox. Sugar, rice, oil, cornmeal, toothpaste.
Elvira, 37 years old, cleaner. She spent 3 hours traveling and buying the products. 1.5 minimum wage equivalent to 15 USD aprox. Sugar, rice, oil, cornmeal, toothpaste.
Dora, 46 years old and Myriam 47 years old, cleaners They spent 7 hours traveling and buying the products. 2 minimum wage equivalent to 22 USD aprox. sugar, rice, oil, cornmeal.
Dora, 46 years old and Myriam 47 years old, cleaners. They spent 7 hours traveling and buying the products. 2 minimum wage equivalent to 22 USD aprox. sugar, rice, oil, cornmeal.
Nora, 43 years old, farmer, She spent 20 hours traveling and buying the products. 1.4 minimum wage equivalent to 14 USD aprox. Sugar, oil, cornmeal, toothpaste.
Nora, 43 years old, farmer, She spent 20 hours traveling and buying the products. 1.4 minimum wage equivalent to 14 USD aprox. Sugar, oil, cornmeal, toothpaste.
Rayan, 20 years old, tradesman He spent 3 hours traveling and buying the products. 1.8 minimum wage equivalent to 18 USD aprox. Soap, oatmeal, brown sugar block.
Rayan, 20 years old, tradesman. He spent 3 hours traveling and buying the products. 1.8 minimum wage equivalent to 18 USD aprox. Soap, oatmeal, brown sugar block.
Greicy, 36 years old, informal saleswoman, She spent 3 hours traveling and buying the products. 0.6 minimum wage equivalent to 6 USD aprox. Rice, popcorn, pasta, flour.
Greicy, 36 years old, informal saleswoman, She spent 3 hours traveling and buying the products. 0.6 minimum wage equivalent to 6 USD aprox. Rice, popcorn, pasta, flour.

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