Some people have been talking a lot about whether Venezuela's a middle-class country or not. I found it perplexing they focus time after time on trying to find the right exchange rate for the Bolívar in order to calculate that. Most of those who are considered "middle class" in Venezuela could not afford to pay the rent for the average 45 m2 flat in Valencia or Caracas...most people I know live in houses they inherited, they live with their parents, they live in houses or flats they bought over ten years ago.
To really get a real feeling about Venezuelans' purchasing power you have to use something like the amount of time the average or, better still, the median worker needs to pay for a kilogram of meat, a movie theatre ticket, a car and so on.
As I do not have the time to do such a research, I decided to compare how much you could do with the minimum salary in Venezuela in 1998 and now.
Here you can see how many kilos of chicken you could buy with the minimum salary at different times
I couldn't get the data for all the years but what you see here is already very telling. Basically now, in 2014 you can buy 76 kilos of chicken meat with a minimum wage whereas you could buy 83 kilos the year before Chávez came to power. There was a maximum around 2010. These prices are not, at least they weren't - Mercal prices but the regulated price. Mercal prices were back in 2006 considerably lower than that, not so now...and shortages have increased a lot. Even though this picture is just another view of purchasing power, it gives, I think, a good feeling about where things stand now...except, of course, for the fact there are massive shortages and people have to spend many hours to find that chicken at that price or pay more.
All in all, 15 years after the start of the so-called revolution the average Venezuelans can afford as many or less chickens as in 1998.