Latitude

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As Juan hinted, I’m finding this whole newborn thing quite a bit more time consuming than I’d expected. (How does he manage with three!??)

Still and all, I managed to get in my first post for the NY Times/International Herald Tribune’s new international blog: Latitude.

Check it out!

[Hat tip: DK.]

1 COMMENT

    • Ah, the tyranny of the word-count.

      Anyway, the consulate staff in Montreal is nothing but lovely – something that seems to astonish every Venezuelan I meet here. I have a sneaky suspicion that they’re secretly embarrassed at all the rojo rojito crap they have to stock the waiting area with. But hey… the arepa in that bozal sure is tasty…

    • Nothing like dealing with Enrique at the Toronto Consulate, he somehow reminds me of that je-ne-sais-quoi aspect of Venezuelan Bureaucracy that makes him seem both helpful and a hindrance at the same time…

  1. Good article!
    You guys should promote in the site voter registration abroad (at least in voter-Pareto cities such as Miami and Madrid). See it as an equivalent of PSUVs Patrullas effort.
    It is hard for me to think of someone that I know here in Venezuela that doesn´t vote. But it is more likely to have a friend abroad who is not registered (and that most likely sends chain e-mails about the presidents health et al…).

  2. Very nice piece of work.

    I’ve always been convinced that Chavez needed you to vote against him so he could maintain some semblance of democracy while using the state machine to ensure his success.

  3. I shouldn’t have read your article. Nothing wrong with it but it made me check out the Consulate’s web page and now I have a stomach ache. Here is one of the reasons:

    http://www.consulventoronto.com/noticias_9.html

    Anyway, now back to Consulate services and all that stuff, imagine living in Alberta and what it means to get documents when the closest consulate is at 4 hours by plane ($600 cost give it or take). Obviously, I have no cedula vigente and haven’t be registered or able to vote for 13 years.

    The somewhat good news is that few months ago they opened a new consulate in Vancouver to service western Canada. Still, it’s at 1 hr flight or 12 hours driving from Calgary. Yeah, like living in San Cristobal and having to vote in Caracas.

    Once again, I’m not voting next year.

    Now more food for thought: have you ever wondered why the opened a new consulate in western Canada in the city with the less Venezuelans? Why not in Alberta where the ex-pdvsa’s are?. Too many oppo voters perhaps?

    One other thing that is actually a good one: there are no Bolivarians Circles here either. Go figure.

    • “why the opened a new consulate in western Canada in the city with the less Venezuelans”

      Isn’t that area one of the wealthy Chinese’s top real estate considerations, and of top interest to Chinese companies bent on trade with North America?

    • Carolina,
      That parroquia Sn Lorenzo mentioned in the link, is a mighty *funny* place. Years ago, I attended on 2 or 3 Sundays to sniff out yet another centre for a Bolicircle.

      Met the head ex-Catholic priest (he once dipped his pen; had a daughter). Looked like he had spent time with the guerrillas. He also seemed to be a little paranoid, while from a doorframe, a few steps away, he tried to find out who I was.

      His service definitely had/has an agenda. Here’s a sample. One Sunday, Curita called for the children in the congregation, inviting them to come up to the front and sit in a circle. There, and for the benefit of the rest of congregation, Curita then explained to the young ones that the US was bombing little children in Iraq. Qué tal?

      Here’s another sample. Curita called on the congregation to open their hearts (read: wallets) to contribute to the purchase of prostheses for a member who lost both his hands.
      A few years later, that ‘minusválido’, sporting new prostheses and looking very much like ‘un patiquín’, was caught smuggling cocaine, upon his return to Toronto. In a newspaper report on the topic, Curita was *shocked*.

      Curita takes a bus down to Nicaragua, (every?) summer, loaded with whatever. He also applied for a radio licence.

      Una joya, pues, all actions covered by the gauze of religion, in this case, a hybrid of Anglicanism (episcopalian), evangelicalism, and that favourite of CC word: shenaniganism.

    • Oh do not worry, you are not missing anything. I would hardly call that thing a consulate, starting by the fact that, last time I checked, they did not allow anyone to register for the upcoming February elections because “We are a new consulate and we still do not have any information on voting registry, but do not worry, we will certainly have it running for the OCTOBER election.” (Since Venezuelan bureaucrats are the most neutral people I have ever met, I am sure that statement did not imply anything about them not wanting people to vote in February/run an oppo election)

      Also, they opened the thing in April and, it is November now and their website is, shockingly, still not running: http://consulvenvancouver.org. By the way, meet your Consul! : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IA8RiWrgeKQ&t=8m5s.

  4. Back to the Consulate’s web page and the government’s logo: why do they have to highlight the word “bolivarian”? Is it more important than “Venezuela”? I guess it is.
    And why “Aporrea” has a link in there?
    Ok. I better stop.

  5. I think the Venezuelan diaspora can be said to be far more widespread than the article implies: I have a son who was consulting a year or two ago in Australia on various projects but mostly in Perth and, on his return, i asked how he got on with the Aussies: “Hardly saw them socilly; there are so many Latinos, primarily Venezuelans, there”, “Pa’ en Perth, se consigue Harina Pan”. A bittersweet piece of information if ever there was. My daughter, also abroad managed to find 10 school classmates (Cristo Rey), all in Australia and several locally married so who won’t be back anytime soon either. As for ‘diaspora’: at this stage, I think there’s no exaggeration in this term’s being used for the matter at hand.

  6. I am not going to lie and pretend I completely hate Venezuelan consulates because a) I have to admit, I am one of the lucky few who has had stellar/rather decent attention in the consulates I have visited, and b) I believe that every lie in an attempt to attack the regime is a weapon we are potentially giving Chavistas to use against us, so I never lie about the Venezuelan deal. However, I have heard a lot of awful stories, so I know that my experiences have been rather fortunate. Furthermore, the “newly” (it has been 6 months) opened Vancouver consulate is very obsolete in terms of attention to the public (see my post above), so I am not satisfied with the network of consular services at all.

    What I am more concerned about is the large amount of groups supporting/spreading Chavez’ message abroad. I go to university in Canada and I am rather appalled at how often I see information meetings scheduled on campus to “defend Chavez and make the U.S. keep its hands off Venezuela”. Moreover, a lot of students here buy the message just because they think that anything that opposed Bush/ opposes the US is good. It is embarassing. I mean, look at all the organizations just in Vancouver that support the revolution: http://www.bolivariancentre.com/leftframe/solidarityorganizations.htm

    My open question to Venezuelans abroad is, why aren’t people more organized about spreading the right message and denouncing Chavez by who he really is, a neodictator? Unfortunately, I start to notice similarities between how the opposition is organized inside and outside Venezuela, I mean for them Miami is Venezuela, and the rest of the world is monte y culebra. I know most people are concentrated in Florida and Spain, but still, the rest of us are, unfortunately, collectively unorganized and thus invisible. Anyways, my point is that it is frustrating to know so many Venezuelans who deprecate Chavez but are unwilling to make their hands dirty with all the work we need to do to get him and his message out of power.

  7. You’re too honest to be a parent, dude. The “sans dire” ethics of childbirth establish that you have to try to reel other people in. It’s as if you just signed up to sell Herbalife: you’re supposed to say “it’s the most wonderful thing in the world” and talk about mountains and rivers of happiness.
    Then, when a friend bites the bait and spawns and approaches you with saggy eyes, all tired and complaining about how little time he has now a days, how he’s been stuck on page 10 of The Little Prince for 3 weeks and how there isn’t anything romantic about changing diapers; that’s when you go, “seeee? It’s horribly time-consuming! I’ve lost half my hearing from the middnight bawling and am now officially hooked on valium! This is worst than sparing with Mike Tyson!”. You talk about the positive aspects of alcohol if you wanna sell beer; nobody shoots ads for Budweiser stressing the downside of delirium tremens…
    That’s how we managed to get to 7 billion people out there.

    • Oh you’d be surprised, Vinz: I can be every bit as boring, single-minded and monotemático a booster for parenthood as the next dad.

      What you’re missing here is the crazy strong endorphine rush you get holding a cooing 3 week old in your arms: baby smack. It sounds totally implausible, I know, but it’s true: it actually does make up for all the other bullshit – including the very literal shit – you have to deal with.

      THAT’s how we got to 7 billion, baby…

      I’ll stop now before I start compulsively posting photos of Kimi and drooling on my keyboard…

      • 😉
        Cheers, dude. We’ve been following all that on Facebook and, needless to say, your daughter photographs beautifully (although, according to my mom, I was as cute as a button as a kid before growing into a lumbering, goatee-sporting, grunge-era, distortion-guitar fan that did away with the goldielocks).
        Peace

    • There’s a charming movie by Merchant + Ivory, based on a novel by Nobel prize winning V.S. Naipul, called “The Mystic Masseur“. Set in Trinidad in the 1950s, Ganesh, an Indian schoolteacher in Port-of-Spain, recently fired from his job, moves back to his home village, from where he begins to carve out his new life. One day, he comes across the village grocer (en un tinglado, pues), who between barking orders to his son, tells Ganesh that “having children makes you a man”.

      Another character opens a tin can as he tells Ganesh that “you haven’t lived until you’ve tasted Canadian salmon”.

      The movie failed to garner prizes, but I enjoyed this height of folclorismo and the depicted scenery, both very similar to experiences in Venezuela.

      Family fare.

  8. On topic, and refering to your article, a couple of things come to mind:
    You stress the economic factor as a motor for migrating venezuelans, but isn’t “insecurity” the number 1 reason why Venezuelans migrate? I recall having read polls saying so at some point…
    Somebody should really break down migrations on a case-by-case or profession by profession basis. What I mean is I think the reasons and causes for migration are economic, but sometimes depend on different factors.
    For exemple, I was clear from the getgo that if I pursued an academic career in Venezuela I’d have to work on the side or figure out an extra income, since the situation in Universities has degraded. I talked to a friend yesterday whose teacher has 3 jobs, including one in Aliance Française…
    But the reason teachers are in the doghouse is not “economic” in the sense that the country’s economy is going sour, it’s “economic” in the sense that, apart from all the macro-economic factors, the whole sector is being slammed and punished for dissent, and their salaries are being strangled by the government.
    It’s not the same case as the fired workers from PDVSA in 2003, but it’s a really interesting situation that has created massive brain-drain. We’re talking college professors, here, not some guy with a simple degree. We’re talking researchers. PhD guys.
    I’m not saying you should have put that in your article, I really liked the fact that it was short, on point and had good rythm. But in the future, it’d be enriching to have a break down of professions, constraints and motivations for migration. The economy might be dodgy, but if your an importer or you run a company, chances are you’re better off riding the wave and making a humungous chunk of change in Venezuela than trying to go get a job in Spain, for exemple.
    Cheers

  9. Venezuelan emigration started earlier, to be fair.
    Canada had a no-visa policy for Venezuelan until mid nineties but stopped it because of so many Venezuelans arriving there and declaring they were political refugees or the like (really, I read it on El Nacional back then).
    Of course, emigration went through the roof once Hugo came to power.

    As Vicente said, I believe security is probably the main motivation. Venezuelans don’t like the media-induced sensation of a bullet in their head.

  10. Speaking of security, looks like the sports world knows how to call a spade a spade. Here’s the skinny on the front page, plus a link to the article:
    Smith: Wealthy athletes choice prey for Venezuelan kidnappers
    The family of Wilson Ramos knows how frightful a trip home can be for a wealthy athlete from a poor country.
    http://www.thestar.com/sports/baseball/mlb/article/1085126–wealthy-athletes-choice-prey-for-venezuelan-kidnappers?bn=1

    That’s right, folks. Venezuela is a poor country.

    • According to a poll I made in Spanish 79 persons (37%) think Venezuela
      is a very rich country and 44 (21%) think it is a rich country.
      That’s 58% think Venezuela is rich or very rich. Only 17% thought Venezuela was poor or very poor. This poll was completely the opposite to what I got from a poll where I asked non-Venezuelans the same question.
      Como diría nuestra defensora del pueblo: es cuestión de percepciones, mi vida.

    • Just a small quip with a small quip: read the damn article!!!

      In parliamentary voting in 2010, almost 75 percent of Venezuelans abroad voted for the opposition coalition, with just 16 percent backing the government. Perhaps that’s the reason the consulate experience is so clearly designed to intimidate us: there’s little electoral upside for the government in bringing us to the polls.

      • Well, perhaps it’s una matriz de opinión that makes Juan and me think so, but your previous lines and then that sentence just sound contradictory. You should have put something like “only now did the government decide to publish”…
        and the reason for publishing was that twitter action (which was even commented in El Nacional and much more commented by Chavistas as a “accion de traidores venezolanos en el extranjero para difamar al gobierno y poner en tela de juicio el papel del CNE”

  11. Once I thought I had a reason to dislike Mr. Toro, but I didn’t.
    Now, Mr. Toro seems to have moved higher even to another plane-I think because of fatherhood..
    Now, I wonder what it the reason I like Mr.Cristobal so much, so much feeling, questioning,
    I can’t explain it. I think there is a “sane foundation” here and definitely an active, give and take
    support network. THere is a real “we” with a cosmic identity. CCSBCC.
    Caracas Chronicles BrainCloud Committee of antijugoistas. (Or, just friends)

  12. I think perhaps immigration could be coming from different motivations depending on the target country .Recent Venezuelan immigrants to NC seem to be largely motivated by avoiding crime and insecurity.Most people have actually had to take pay cuts, and live like paupers compared to their lives in Venezuela in order to stay here.

    Venezuela is actually a very wealthy country that squanders its wealth.It is much easier to survive economically, if one has a minimum of education in Venezuela than it is to survive here in the US ,a fact which is quite rapidly discovered by immigrants.Many have to move back.One does not need to buy insurance, pay heating bills, high taxes, etc etc. in Venezuela…I mean one can almost live on nothing in Venezuela…and owe huge sums of money to boot !! I know people in Caracas who can actually survive selling Herbalife…ha!One close friend of mine (a concert pianist) is doing just that.

    Honesty demands that we tell the truth.Venezuela is a rich country…..but poor in organization and high in crime.

      • Hmm. Makes me wonder, should we plan a change in the system to prevent anyone from being able to pawn the future again, or should we stick to the past plans based on hoping the next ones in charge don’t?

  13. Loved the article, try explaining that discomfort of the consulate visits to the french securite sociale and other offices that require the darn extrait de naissance thats valid for only 3 months…

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