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Inflation and scarcity trigger funeral services costs

November 4, 2018 02:05 AM

If those who lose a loved one abroad carry a heavy cross, it is no less so for those whose relatives die in Venezuela. The burial prices have become expensive, although the candles last less and the materials with which the ballot boxes are made are cheaper. A full service varies between 17,000 and 18,000 sovereign bolivars, while the cheapest coffin is worth 8,000 sovereign bolivars.

Venezuelans used to acquire funeral policies through insurance or cooperatives, precisely to avoid the budgetary setback that involves the funeral of a loved one, but Romel Cañas, principal director of the Professional Association of the Funeral Industry, points out that, in a context of acute crisis like the current one, these are increasingly rare cases. "The forecasts have almost disappeared due to the devaluation. The policies are contracted once a year and are usually paid monthly, but inflation is so galloping that two or three months after having sold an insurance the amounts do not even reach a quarter of what a service represents, " .

Due to the high costs, mourners have had to return to the custom of seeing relatives in their own homes, on mattresses, because they have no way to pay for a service. In August the case of a young man, Jhonatan Sánchez, was recorded. When he died, he was taken in sheets to the church of Santa Bárbara in Rubio to receive the blessing of the priest. His family did not have the resources to buy a coffin.

Javier Montoya, president of Asoproinfu, justifies the increases by pointing out that they are a sector also hit by shortages. "For example, polished steel sheets are not manufactured in the country, and funeral homes must buy them in other markets. A casket carries 4 plates and each one is worth approximately $ 17. That explains why the polls are so expensive. A formaldehyde tank of 220 liters can cost up to 77,000 sovereigns, "he adds.

"We are not merchants of death. On the contrary, we guide Venezuelans. For example, people can reduce costs by only watching the deceased for a few hours, "he adds.

Those who must face the death of a loved one in Venezuela are not safe from administrative delays either. The prefectures, for example, have stopped complying with the 24-hour schedule to grant cremation or burial permits, and that also hinders funerals.

Cremation is not safe. This practice has become an option not only for those who reject traditional burials, but also for those who need to reduce costs.

Cañas explains that with that alternative the funeral prices are reduced to more than half, since no urn or pit is used. "For a conventional service, 18,000 sovereign bolivars must be spent, while with cremation not even 10,000 bolivars are spent, at most 8,000 bolivares, and that is because the tradition of holding a wake for 24 hours is still being maintained." However, now there are serious problems with the supply of gas for the firing of the crematoria.

"Crematories are not a priority for state agencies that supply gas," he complains. "For example, at this time we have been without gas for eight days, so there is no cremation service in Táchira state."

Another problem facing the funeral sector is the lack of spare parts for vehicles and floats. "There are cars stopped for lack of batteries. It's difficult because you want to keep working, but it's really complicated, "he says.

Tragedies on risky routes

Khevin Fagúndez

The humanitarian emergency has forced Venezuelans to leave the country en masse, a phenomenon that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights describes as forced migration.

Not everyone can afford a plane or bus ticket to emigrate, and they opt for unconventional routes. There are those who have done it in private cars, on bicycles and even walking. Others risk leaving by sea in boats or other boats, many of them precarious. Travel in these circumstances implies risks that more than once have had fatal outcomes.

The most recent episode with tragic end occurred on October 20, when the shipwreck was reported, in the Santana area of ​​Cachó, on the island of Aruba, of a boat that departed from the town of El Supí, in Paraguaná, Falcón state, in which approximately 20 people traveled. Later, the bodies of Wilfredo Vilela, 39, and Jhonny Perozo, 24, were found.

However, "you can not specify how many people were on the boat or how many people actually died," says National Assembly Deputy Luis Stefanelli.

He adds that the bodies, which according to the Minister of Justice of Aruba, Aandy Bikker, had been confiscated, have already been repatriated.

Family members reported in media interviews that they demanded 4,580 florins, equivalent to more than 2,500 dollars, to deliver the remains.

"It is regrettable that this type of paperwork should be canceled in foreign currency, because that is a very hard blow to the pocket of the family involved. In fact, many have been obliged to ask for financial help from non-profit organizations to pay for the expenses, "says Stefanelli.

He adds that because the bodies of the deceased could not be located in the wreck of Aruba, family members have expressed doubts about their identity: "They are demanding DNA tests to make sure that they really are."

The authorities still have to respond to that request.


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