Interview: How NANO Community and a Brave Venezuelan Helped Save People from Starvation
“Hector”, as the Redditor from Venezuela became known, talks to us on how he has used NANO donations to buy food for his community, and shares his thoughts on cryptocurrencies.
In a fascinating example of internet activism, the NANO community proved the change-making potential of cryptocurrencies after donating at least 29 NANO to Venezuelan user /u/Windows7733. With a price of $2.66 per NANO (according to coinmarketcap.com), this sum might not seem much to the average crypto enthusiast, but proved to be a life-saver to the Redditor from Venezuela, who used it to buy and donate over 100 kg of food to those in need in his community.
According to his follow-up post in which he provided wallet addresses for donations, NANO 0.5, or $1.33 is worth an entire monthly salary in the country. Venezuela is currently experiencing a hyperinflation no other country has seen since the Weimar Republic.
This is one of the first humanitarian cases of cryptocurrencies being used to directly fund citizens in suffering economies. In an exclusive interview for Cryptovest, ‘Hector’*, as the Redditor became known online, provided a direct insight.
Q: Without revealing too much, tell us something about yourself?
A: I'm a young adult, currently working for a transport company and studying in the university.
Q: What was your family's financial situation before the economic and political crisis?
A: Before the crisis my family was doing well, we were able to make our living without worrying about food. We had plans, goals and success at what each of us was doing. We could live comfortable, working and helping others with our income, enjoying little things like going out to watch movies or buying street food from time to time.
Paying for auto parts the car needed, changing oil every 5,000 miles or buying brand new tires every time it was necessary, or buying cheap smartphones for all of us so we could maintain communication and replacing them every time they go broken.
Q: What made you pick NANO over other coins? Is it a popular option in Venezuela?
0.5 NANO was the first donation I've received ever, the equivalent of more than 1 entire monthly salary in Venezuela. And it was a cryptocurrency donation, something I've read about a lot lately.
A: While cryptocurrencies are already very popular in Venezuela, NANO isn't yet known among the population as Bitcoin is known but there are already several projects launched by the NANO community that are gaining traction for helping Venezuelan refugees and that is helping people to know more about this cryptocurrency.
We didn’t choose NANO, but it just turned out that the NANO community is the biggest contributor right now in helping Venezuelans, and that's wonderful because the currency fits the solution to several problems we are facing in our country. We are still accepting donations denominated in other cryptocurrencies.
Q: Is your involvement in the crypto world out of necessity, or is it also a product of personal interest?
A: If it wasn't for the cryptocurrency I've received for myself, already 4 NANO, my family wouldn't have anything to eat. People in /r/nanocurrency understood I am only one among millions and I just offered myself as a channel to connect the two communities, one with the solution and other facing the humanitarian crisis. I'm doing this because I fear for my future being in a country in ruins while my family members have to live in this nightmare.
NANO and cryptocurrencies in general can improve our lives, how my community takes choices and therefore improve the conditions we are living in, compared to the other options we have under the dictatorship here in Venezuela who is imposing more and more economic controls every week, every month.
We all know what's wrong and what the solutions are because we weren't always like this and the younger generation is realizing there is more out there for them and we are basically preparing ourselves to take it all or nothing at all.
Q: Cryptocurrencies are very popular in Venezuela, but, as far as we know, it is illegal to hold any currency, different from the Bolivar (be it crypto or fiat). Can you put in perspective the risks associated with holding such an amount of money in crypto? What would happen, should authorities find out?
A: Yes, handing other currencies to make payments denominated in any currency different from bolivars is illegal. We can't have for ourselves any foreign currency because we are obliged to exchange it for bolivars at certain rate established by government officials.
People have been arrested for having cryptocurrencies for themselves and using government platform disclosing their stash, importing mining rigs or just selling cryptocurrencies publicly, those arrested are extorted, jailed if they don't pay bribes.
Q: How many NANOs have you received so far?
A: I've received for myself 4 NANOs so far. And in total, [I have received] 44,334 NANOs which are being used to buy food; 291 of them were already spent and in the next days more food will be bought to be distributed to people.
I want to use this opportunity to thank all people who have been helping my family, my community, neighbors and people who come here asking for help. It has been amazing how everything has gone so far.
Q: You mentioned that you intend to help out other individuals and families with the money received. Can you put in perspective for our readers what you could do with 1 NANO?
A: One NANO ($2.6) can buy two kg of cornmeal, or one kg of meat, or thirteen eggs, or two kg of rice, or half of kg of dried milk, or one liter of cooking oil, or 100 pills of paracetamol or acetaminophen, or two or three pills of antibiotics depending on the dose, or 8 rolls of toilet paper, or one shampoo of 700 ml, or two deodorants.
Q: Apart from food, what else could you buy with cryptocurrencies on the black market?
A: I can buy almost everything as long as I find the right person. So far, I've been lucky and I've convinced one merchant to accept NANO directly for food, but I know this is going to be like fire and eventually it will be easier to buy from auto parts, medicines, basic supplies, etc.; to pay for cars, houses, travels, vacations, etc.
Q: Is it significantly more expensive to buy goods this way?
A: Sometimes it is and in other cases there are discounts if you buy with cryptocurrencies, depending on the risk involved in the operation and also the market. Buying a car is easier if you are paying with banknotes of dollars, but if you're paying with Bitcoin it will be cheaper if you buy it for the equivalent in bolivars.
Q: What are your thoughts on Petro, Venezuela's own cryptocurrency?
A: A scam.
Q: Is there anything you'd wish to add, or address our readers in any way?
A: Venezuela is in really bad shape and the country is already collapsing.
People ask when will Venezuela collapse but we already have. The final stage of this collapse is the large number of people who have died from starvation – entire families are already being found dead in their own houses because they couldn't buy food and couldn't find any help. I wish I was exaggerating but that's already the reality in my country.
People benefiting from your contributions are really thankful because they know this is something special you guys are doing for us, and it isn't only about helping someone struggling to get food but also it's about giving economic freedom to these people under the Venezuelan dictatorship.