What’s up with all this stuff on my newsfeed? Vene-what? Is that in Africa?
It’s a country that pumps the oil that goes in your car, and grows the coffee and cocoa beans you love to mix up in your mocha frappucino (we do not condone soy milk, by the way). Also, it’s a country at the brink of a civil war.
Venezuela, my native land, is situated in South America. It has the most beautiful beaches you will ever see, the most delicious food you’ll ever try, and the nicest (and prettiest) people on the planet. Don’t believe me? We got 6 Miss Universes, and two of them were back-to-back.
But like any other country that aspired to become a utopia, there were things that were left in the back burner…this is where it gets ugly. And a lot of people will probably get angry at me, but this is how it goes:
Social mobility does not exist in Venezuela. It’s all about maintaining the status quo. You were born poor? Well, you’re going to die poor.
Sorry not sorry!
Remember the book (or movie) The Help? Society in Venezuela was just like that. Growing up, our Help had her own room, her own bathroom and her own dishes and silverwear and we were not to touch it.
How considerate, right?
It’s because you don’t know where they’ve been. Lord forbids you catch poverty and illiteracy by touching it.
These women, of course, had children of their own, but it was the eternal irony of leaving their home and their children behind so they could look after someone else’s home and someone else’s children.
But that was life and I was a child and I had no idea of the irony of it all.
The lower classes were never taken care of- they were never educated, they were never given the tools to fully advance and move up in society. And everyone seemed to be fine with this.
Was there resentment? Surely. Did I see it? No. I was a kid. Did the grown ups see it? Sure. Could they do anything about it? Sure. Did they? Well…no.
I’m not going on a crusade nor am I pointing fingers and placing blame. Just pointing out facts.
And so the slums grew more and more each year- they took over the beautiful mountains that surround Caracas (my hometown). It got out of hand.
And in came a man promising equality for all- justice for all the years this lower class had been overlooked.
He was elected, democratically, with a message of peace and prosperity.
Did my social strata like this? Oh no!
But it was not because this man came from poverty. It was because his peace message was just a sugar coat over his feelings of resentment and the fact that he had orchestrated a coup d’état that failed and was consequently jailed.
Granted, Margaret Thatcher called Nelson Mandela a terrorist. But I’m neither Margaret Thatcher nor was Hugo Chavez Nelson Mandela (my most sincere apology to Mr. Mandela for putting his name next to the other one). Quite the opposite: he was a autocratic megalomaniac (Lately, it’s the latest rage in Latin American politics!)
Crime skyrocketed, private companies became property of the government, the economy took a nosedive and all of a sudden, our oil (our KING) was being gifted around. Alliances were formed with such happy nations as Iran, Cuba, North Korea. We were the bad kids in the playground.
Usually bad kids grow up to be bad adults.
And so, our bad-ass government became, well, bad.
People starve due to shortages brough on by mismanagement and a blatant lack of conscience/care. Even abroad people are controled. Ask people about CADIVI: the government has to approve a credit card with a set amount of money which is your allowance abroad. Doesn’t matter if you’re going for 2 days, 2 weeks or 2 months.
And yet, people trudged on living their every day lives. People left the country, the diaspora abroad did nothing because there was nothing to do.
Then, this man (Henrique Capriles Radonsky) whom I had heard of before came around saying he wanted to be president.
Do you, now?
He spoke about peace, he spoke about patience, he spoke about unity and democracy. He called Caracas, the crime and kidnapping capital of the world heroica (heroic). This man gave Caracas its dignity back! No more “revolution”, no more allusions to El Che or the Castro brothers.
And guess what? This guy was totally believable!
What is this little feeling bubbling up inside me?
Is it hope? Oh my God! Is this what hope feels like? It’s exciting, it’s refreshing, people will be able to move up, to have jobs, to eat! Holy shit!! \(^^,)/ This man actually has a plan. He wants to give Venezuela its sovereignty back. He believes in social justice, in helping your fellow man.
I sound polarized. How do you know this guy is not like the other? After hearing messages of violence, of military propaganda, of severing ties with other nations, rampant crime and escalating inflation this man is a breath of fresh air.
October 7th, 2012 rolled around. Election time. Everyone was convinced Capriles would win. He did not. It was a bitter day.
Then Chavez had to leave for some cancer treatment in Cuba. We did not hear from him for months. It was rumored he had died. On New Year’s Eve, we got a phone call: Chavez was dead. Just like that. It was the weirdest feeling. Anticlimactic, almost. All these years waiting and waiting and then the resolution was too easy.
These news did not become official until March 6th, 2013.
If the government had acknowledged Chavez was dead was because they have a plan.
Sure enough, elections were called but those who were not register to vote from the elections 6 months ago were not allowed to register. Super fair, huh?
The interim president was Nicolas Maduro. A man who rose from union leader to…president. Sounds a lot like the american dream except this man never went to school and has no idea what it takes to run a country.
Well, I have a hunch you need a degree and some knowledge in economics, management, history, and geography to begin with.
But nevermind this. This man embodied what people could become. What all these repressed citizens who had been cast aside wanted. Even if it meant bringing everyone down.
So these emergency elections took place on April 14th of 2013 and the results were nearly 50/50.
This is fraud.
How do you know, girl?
Because not even the past elections were so tight. Also, polling places were being closed, people were being intimidated into voting for Maduro and oh! Witnesses form tables got killed when they reported irregularities.
Venezuela found itself in the center of the international eye with fraudulent elections, a population divided in half, and a civil war about to break out.
People are ready to take to the streets, but Capriles is urging there be peace. El que tiene razon tiene que tener calma. Those who are right must be patient. Tensions are mounting, a recount is still being demanded, and he is still insisting in being calm.
The other guy? He’s losing his marbles.
So, in a nutshell, this is what’s going on. If you care to read more, check out these guys:
Also, I don’t expect people to understand. I also don’t expect for people to care, but if you’ve made it this far reading this, then maybe you do. I just wanted to get your attention because my family back home wants a future and I want them to have one too.
They want peace, safety…they want to break the cycle of violence and anarchy of the past 14 years. I want all my friends who are young professionals are able to have long, fulfilling careers in their home country, not abroad out of necessity. I don’t want to hear the word “revolutionary” ever again in my life when it comes to describing the governing bodies, I don’t want to see people wearing red as a sign of the “revolution”. I don’t want to see any more militant propaganda. I, along with 14 million other people are tired of this caudillo (look it up in the dictionary). I am tired of the word “democracy” being thrown around when there is clearly a violation of even the most basic rights. I’m tired of people lying and others allowing themselves to be lied to.
We learned our lesson.
As I write this, I have live TV streaming on my computer. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is walking down the streets of the city I grew up in for Maduro’s inauguration. Try and imagine how that feels. Try and imagine how it feels to be robbed of everything, to have to leave your country behind (and your family, and your friends) and not know if you’ll ever come back.
Let it sink in.
And a big fat fuck you to the United Nations and the Organization of American States for turning a blind eye to Venezuela and the world for all these years. It’s too late to care now. Let us do our will.
Fuck you a million times.