en la lucha por la locha

Mr. Chávez’s reintroduction of the coin invokes a period when Venezuela enjoyed large foreign investment and remarkable price stability. A common response then to the question “how are you?” was “en la lucha por la locha,” an expression revolving around the coin, meaning roughly “struggling to make a buck.”

This quote from the NY Times stuck my fancy. I was in Venezuela during the period of stability that Mr. Chávez longs for. Compared to the rest of South America, Venezuela was both a prosperous and progressive country. In the 1960’s Venezuela was making major strides in many areas. I believe I was there for the first free elections. Since much of the population was illiterate, the candidates were assigned colors. If you wanted to vote for a candidate all you had to do was remember their color. This was a major step forward for South America who traditionally relied on the military to make changes. This was also a period in which American businesses dominated the economy. It is ironic that as Mr. Chávez is nationalizing industries he fondly remembers a period marked by a very close relationship to foreign investment. I guess he has to learn the fundamentals international economics the hard way.