As the second semester of the year starts in Zulia State, groups of adults, youth and children can be seen peddling along the main streets of the city and adding to the list of informal jobs. Unemployment is gaining ground and they dedicate themselves to any activity that generates any income.
According to statistics from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), unemployment in Venezuela between 2020 and 2021 stood at 58.3%, the highest rate in Latin America.
Faced with this scenario that extends throughout Venezuela, young people have found it necessary to abandon their studies to go out into the streets to seek sustenance for themselves and their families. Many gather along the main streets and avenues to clean the windshields of vehicles. In Maracaibo they are called “windshield wipers” or “glass cleaners”.
There is no set amount to charge customers for cleaning the windshields of the vehicle, and leave this to the discretion of the drivers. Some told La Patilla that the payment ranges from a bolívar to a dollar.
They crowd the streets around 9:00 in the morning and can leave at 4:00 or 6:00 in the afternoon, it all depends on how fruitful the day is. Their goal is to earn at least 5 dollars per day. They affirm that there are good days and bad days.
Lisleidy Chacón stated that she has looked for a job, but she can’t find it and she has a 12-year-old son to look after. When the options of looking for a job were exhausted, she went to the traffic lights to clean windows. Three times a week her son also does the same. She assured that when they both work, they earn more, but they leave at 1:00 pm because of the strong sun, characteristic of the city, which makes her head ache.
“I don’t like my son doing this, but I don’t want to leave him alone in the house.” She sometimes reflects and belives that any honest work is honorable, that he must learn to earn money honestly. “When we leave our spot we go and buy lunch and dinner. If the day is hard, we eat only one meal,” said Chacón.
For the most part, those who carry out these “glass cleaning” jobs are young people between 14 and 17 years old. The inclement sun and heat cannot be endured by anyone for eight continuous hours. The minors said that they aspired to a better job when they reached the age of majority and thus be able to get ahead and help their family.
As for the risks that this job entails, there is being run over or bumped by a vehicle. They all state that they are alert and climb back to the sidewalks and added the fact that now there is no heavy vehicular traffic in the streets.