It is the third night that Roger Martinez, a young man of 35, comes home drunk. His wife cannot handle this situation any longer. She had to ask her neighbor for two eggs to accompany the white rice she made for her children’s dinner. Meanwhile, she wonders how her husband manages to get money to intoxicate himself nearly every single day.
Daily, Roger goes out to search for a job, but a self-employed job. He’ll clean a backyard, he’ll do some construction in certain homes, etc. He does not have a specific occupation, but he does anything in order to live day to day. For him, working in the street means more income than he would make with a monthly salary. All in all, however, it is still not enough to get by.
Before, when he would lay his head on his pillow, he would think of the different ways he could resolve the economic difficulties that awaited him the following day. He had to figure out a way to pay for all the electrical appliances given to him during the “Energy Revolution,” to continue supporting his children, to get food, to repair the house, etc.
Now, his situation has only worsened. To work for himself and at his own risk he needs a government license. The Tax Administration Office of his municipality has required him the guarantee to be a grocer, dependent of the centers which deliver the subsidy quota, that way he will be accredited that he is not a “debtor of the nation.” On the contrary, they will not let him operate as a self-employed citizen.
Martinez now finds himself in a dilemma — in order to work legally, he has to settle his debts with the State. The problem lies in the fact that he does not know how he will get more than 10 thousand pesos to pay for all the appliances given to him by the benevolent Battle of Ideas. He can barely even guarantee food for his children.
He has no other option but to work illegally and to incur one of the legal violations that come along with self-employment. Infringement is punished by a fine of 1,200 pesos, and that’s just for taking part in activities that are “legally authorized” without presenting the proper documentation which certifies him as a self-employed worker.
Roger wonders where he will get the money from if this happens. His problems do not diminish, instead they grow. The only solution for the time being is to not think. Either way, the only alternative to survive is to run the risk and work “on the left”*, as they say out on the streets.
His day starts at 6 AM in the bar at the corner of the street. At that time, he gulps down his first drink of the day. He ends up stumbling and talking to himself on the way back home. Drinking alcoholic beverages has become his main attraction, as a way to not face his frustrations and weakness. An escape from the harsh reality, a remedy to not have to think.
Translated by Raul G.