Live-blogging "la cola"

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It's number time!

It’s MY day.

It’s not my birthday. And Saint Anne’s Feast Day is July 26th.

It’s my day because, on Tuesdays, Venezuelans with ID numbers ending in 2 and 3 can buy price-controlled products in a supermarket that I’ll call the No-Kwik-E-Mart.

Since this is Holy Week holiday, I decide to venture out and stand in line, whatever it takes. My mom’s ID also ends with  2, so we can at least share the adventure – for lack of a better word.

8:04am: We get in line, or as Venezuelans call it, “la cola.” (Literally, the tail) According to Google maps, it is a 60 meter line. Since it isn’t an orderly line, we estimate –al least- 250 people in front of us.

The minute I get in line, security personnel from a close-by store yells out: “hay Ace y papel tualé” [there’s Ace laundry powder and toilet paper].

Jackpot!
Jackpot! (The Ace, not the car)

We hear one lady saying that the toilet paper had arrived the day before, but since it wasn’t “her day” she couldn’t buy it. And it was the one product she desperately needed.

In line, you’re doing pretty much nothing, so there are basically two types of entertainment: monitoring the passing bags, and gossiping with the other folks in line.

We see a man walk around with a plastic bag from the No-Kwik-E-Mart … with toilet paper and Harina Pan, the corn flour that Venezuelans cherish beyond words. Its yellow wrapping paper is all too appropriate – it’s grocery-store gold.

Another man passes by carrying two bags containing Head&Shoulders shampoo, Carefree sanitary pads, and Valmy nail polish remover. The bags are from a Farmatodo drug store that is only 3 or 4 blocks away. We don’t want to risk losing our spot on the line, so we agree to stay put and go afterwards.

At this point, people are still pretty polite. You can even get some coffee or chamomile tea from a couple of street vendors.

The ladies that are behind us are really chatty. In just a few minutes, they tell us that they have come to the No-Kwik-E-Mart because one of them is on sick leave, and the other has the day off at work … that the son of a friend has constipation problems … another friend spends 10 kilos of washing detergent per week because she has to wash her sick mom’s bed sheets on a daily basis … the beautiful macaws they saw on the soccer field of Colegio Americano … that her son was mugged a couple of weeks ago … es que en este país ya no se puede vivir … and so on and so forth.

The most shocking story: the husband of one of the ladies was the driver of the bus that was robbed on Friday March 27th in the Prados del Este freeway and produced one death at the scene.

9:06am: we pass the one hour mark. We still have about 100 people in front of us. But we can at least see the No-Kwik-E-Mart entrance.

People are getting tense. Many are trying to cut la cola. Others are asking people in line if they can get in with them, and the answer is a rather simple but strong “NO”. The closer you get the door, the higher the stakes. Nerves are fraught.

Old people are in on the action. They decided to form a line for the tercera edad (senior citizens, which in Venezuela are curiously called “the third age”) without any permission. Younger people are not supportive at all. Security personnel dissolve the line, but the oldies have a way of cutting the line. They just do, sneaky wrinkled bastards.

A lady and a girl pass us by eating a couple of empanadas from an “informal entrepreneur” (i.e. a street vendor) making a buck while taking advantage of the situation.

Out of nowhere, my mom says: “¿para que ir a la playa en Semana Santa, si acá agarras el sol parejo?” [Why go to the beach on Holy Week Break, when you can get as much sun as you like right here?]

9:14am: an old lady with hair-rolls asks us: “do you grab the number first and then get in line or should I get in line at once?” She doesn’t ask what the line is for. She doesn’t ask what products arrived. She must only know that it’s her day.

9:19am: the sun is merciless. My purse is like the Mary Poppins bag, so I grab a small umbrella and hand it to my mom so she can use it to shield herself. But the guy in front of us goes straight to the cardboard shade.

20150331_091912
It’s not a fort… it’s a cardboard shade!

9:23am: it’s number time. Security personnel from the No-Kwik-E-Mart hand me and my mom a number. It doesn’t guarantee that we’ll find the price-controlled products. It’s more of a control measure: to know how many people in the group they’ll let in next.

It's number time!
It’s number time!

Just as I get my number, National Security Guards arrive at the scene. They are carrying mighty big weapons. People stare with concern – is it a prevention tactic, or is there something going on inside?

9:27pm: we finally get into the No-Kwik-E-Mart. Not bad. We only stood in line for 1 hour and 23 minutes. As we cross the glass door, the scene is utter CHAOS. Hundreds of people frantically looking for the things they need, while dozens stand in line waiting to pay.

Next, you hand in your number and ID, and get a ticket for the price-controlled products. Let’s call it the “catch of the day”. They tell us we can have Ace, toilet paper and fabric softener. We both ask for Ace and toilet paper, sans softener, and the lady says: “se ve que ustedes compran con conciencia” [you are the kind of people that buy conscientiously]. My mom doesn’t understand. I simply say thanks.

Catch of the day!
Catch of the day!

We run to the back part of the No-Kwik-E-Mart and snatch a box of La Pastoreña skim milk. We are not sure they will let us buy the whole box, but we decide to go for it.

Then: aisle 4.

That’s where the No-Kwik-E-Mart employees are handing out the catch of the day. People are getting rowdy.

Old ladies are trying to cut the line. This time, no one is going to take it.

We hand in our tickets, and a guy marks it and lets us through the aisle to get our quota: six 1-kilo bags of Ace, and four 4-roll packs of toilet paper per person.

A National Police member is monitoring the isle … and also “helping” a couple of friends to cut line.

9:40am: amidst the chaos, we decide to go straight to the cashier. It is not “the day” for the lady in front of us. Nonetheless, the cashier helps her pass a couple of bottles of fabric softener. I would have gladly helped the lady if she had asked, but she choose the “I didn’t know I couldn’t but today … you sure I can’t?” technique that I hate.

9:54am: I pay for my catch of the day. My mom pays two minutes before me, and is able to buy the box of skim milk.

As we leave the No-Kwik-E-Mart, we notice that the line is still long, the sun is more picante, and people are simply resigned to stand there as long as it takes.

10:05am: we know it is a long shot, but we go to the Farmatodo drug store a couple of blocks away from the No-Kwik-E-Mart. There is no shampoo left.

At least my mom gets to register the evolution of one of her chosen economic indicators: the Bin Bin Index. The Bin Bin is a Jelly Bean of sorts. My mom had paid BsF 52 for a pack on Friday. It now costs BsF 83.

Just another morning for regular Venezuelan consumers.

1 COMMENT

  1. How hard is it to buy these goods on the black market? Can the middle class buy these things there or is pretty much only the rich?

      • In the documentary “Tierra Hostil” of Antena Tres, they interviewed a teacher from Chacao, who goes to Petare to get regulated products from the street vendors. She pays them at a steep price, but she explains she has no option because she doesn’t have the time to stand in line or to take a day (“her day”) off to buy groceries.

        It amazed me the amount of street vendors. It was a whole market, not just two or three.

        If you haven’t watch this documentary, I reccommend you to do so. Big eye opener.

    • It isn’t a question if the “rich” have access to these goods, it’s a thing of HAVING access to the goods BEFORE the street vendors come and raze the place.

    • Nahh… not hard at all. Everyone has a friend who can “get things.” Besides, everything is so freaking expensive now, that regulated products are perceive as almost free… (1 lt of milk “fair price” is 50 VEF, which is between 20 and 25 cents on the dollar at the higher FX)

    • I haven’t been there for about a year, but up until mid ’14 you could find pretty much whatever you needed in the “black” market – trouble is, for most people, prices there are impossible to pay

    • I am not your typical consumer, I go one week a month and buy a very limited number of items, some of which (like toilet paper) can last me months (at six to eight rolls a package). In general, I go to the supermarket the day I arrive and see what I can find. Those items I dont find, I get the next day at the Chacao Free Market for about four to six times the prices. Normally, I find everything I need, but sometimes, like a month ago, certain things cant be obtained even at these prices. last time it was soaps of any kind.

      • But think about the percentage of the salary for the mean Venezuelan to buy those items…just impossible in many cases.
        A kilogram of fish at the Venezuelan coast costs several times the price for fresh fish in Germany – for a Venezuelan with bolivares -.

  2. Part of it is that you have to go to places (on foot or using battered slow public transportation ) which are not conveniently located and which are generally considered unsafe , second that even there sometimes you dont find what your seeking and third that the prices are ‘out of this world’. Even then if youre desperate enough you end up visiting the buhoneros . .

  3. Lots of time the people making the queue are from outside the neighborhood where the supermarket is located , they ride on buses or trucks from very early in the morning going from queue to queue collecting those articles as they can find in each place. The come in platoons . There are different types of queues , some are set up by the supermarkets themselves , they are usually more orderly . then there are the queues that are government organized , there you first make a queue ouside the supermarket and wait for a long time to be given a number , at this time you dont even know what you will find , then when you get to the supermarket door a National Guard will ask to see your ID Card and type its number in a machine , then your are allowed in to make the queue to where the products are being distributed , there you hand in your number and are given the products which are avialable , there is a maximum amount per person , you can ask for less but never for more, then you make a third queue to pay for the articles , the first and third are the longest queues . There is always tension as people try to butt into the line ahead of you and they are rebuffed with hungry shouting and exchange of insults. Most supermarkets but not all require that you only access these articles on certain day of the week depending on the last number of your ID Card . If they dont find the articles your looking for that day , too bad . Articles go missing unpredictably for weeks on even months on end then they reappear and suddenly their off the shelves again . I acompany my wife to search for the products we need every time I can . We havent found any coffee or sugar for months (if relatives are lucky enough to find them they usually share with us as we share with them) , beef and chicken are starting to disspear for longer periods now , we havent been able to find any for about 15 days , no matter how many places we visit. Detergents and sanitary paper is beginning to appear more frequently now for the last 2 weeks , Milk was imposisible to find for a long time and then its started reappearing about once a week or 10 days ( visiting at least three supermarkets about 2 times a week each ) . People have nothing to do so they chatter and gossip and show their childrens pictures , as time passes they get more impatient and start first cautiously to criticize the regime and after a while they become more outspoken and bitter in their comments . You see young mothers with young children spend hours on these queues , old people , sometimes under the full glare of the sun . its pitiful !! The govt has totally stopped talking about the so called economic war , its a dead topic now . the phocus for a while was on the despicable plots of the opposition and lately on getting angry and rejecting the Obama decree. The daily travails and sufferings of countless people dont exist for them Remember that also getting much worse is the inflation and the crimes .

    • I noticed that in the last 7 days or so 3 livestock vessel have arrived in Puerto Cabello from Argentina and Uraguay so I suspect that in the next 3 or 4 weeks some beef will reappear in the supermarkets, unless the FANB get their hands on it first.

    • “We havent found any coffee or sugar for months (if relatives are lucky enough to find them they usually share with us as we share with them) ”

      No coffee for months? How do you function?

      Seriously, who would have imagined that in Venezuela one couldnt’ find coffee? Venezuela could, and should, be one of the top exporter of coffees in the world. Instead, it produces less than a quarter of what it did in 1999, and is a net importer (at least, when it had money to import).

      I did get my hands on some Venezuelan coffee last year when my wife brought some back from Venezuela (I haven’t been since 2013), some of the “Hecho En Socialismo” variety. The quality was not what one used to expect from Venezuelan coffee.

  4. “…Harina Pan, the corn flour that Venezuelans cherish beyond words…”

    The ONLY corn foulr that Venezuelans can find.

    There, fixed it for you.

  5. The money quote: “In line, you’re doing pretty much nothing, so there are basically two types of entertainment: monitoring the passing bags, and gossiping with the other folks in line.”

    • Is it that difficult to find a book and read? Just maybe… Not justifying anything but the fact that people do not find other sorts of entertainment or a way to be more productive regardless of the situation is exactly among the reasons the country is where it is.

      • Yes, there’s nothing quite as enjoyable as reading from a reflective surface, under a hot, relentless sun, the brightness perhaps mitigated by trying to hold up with one hand an umbrella. Hmm, useful too would be earplugs to muffle the surrounding chatter. That might ease concentration.

        Any other bright ideas?

        • Most ordinary venezuelans dont read that much , just like in brazil and other tropical places , people gossip , complain about the govt , listen to the radio real loud , men look at passing pretty girls, young mothers wrestle with their restless babies if they read anything its the crime page and sports news . they try to avoid the sun and take a seat on the sidewalk next to the line or go seek if there is a bathroom around they can go to when pressed by their bodily needs , always alert that someone brings news about whats going to be offered or if all of a sudden they are distributing numbers ( if you are not in the line you are left out ) or if the queue starts moving or watch out for people who try to jump the line . Also sometimes the guards come out and reorder the line so that instead of being along the side of the wall its right in front of the enthrance or shifted some other way , this allows the line jumpers to try and get closer to the front of the line !! You are not entirely passive all the time , reading a book requires concentration , and the lines are like a squirming snake of impatient people.

          • You guys can keep trying to justify the unjustifiable, window dress the problem or do whatever you want but it won’t make the problem go away. It is a problem. I’ve seen people in far worse conditions with way more willingness to read and learn than most average Venezuelans. I never mentioned that they should be reading a “complex” book requiring deep concentration, just some reading. But the reading problem is not limited to queues, it is very much present everywhere you go as most Venezuelans don’t tend to read (we finally agree on something Bill Bass).

            Syd, please don’t be ironic. Talking about the sun in Caracas and the shade and what not. Funnily enough, people praised Leopoldo Lopez when refurbishing Av. Francisco Miranda during his years as Mayor (some politicians were as bold as to even say it was one of the most advanced streets in the world, complemented by “intelligent street lights”). Not many people questioned who was going to sit on those benches without any shade whatsoever built into them or at least trees to provide some comfort (is is the tropics after all so plants can last year round right?). I mean you go and obviously there are people who do make use of it, but it is not ideal. The list grows if you include horrible concrete constructions/squares with little shade such as the Plaza Alfredo Sadel, the Plaza de los Palos Grandes, etc. In the end, what this is, is subduing the population to lower standards of living. And this was something executed by the supposedly “educated” and “competent” politicians according to many people. But Venezuelan politicians in general, and for obvious reasons, Chavistas more than ever, benefit from the lack of education of the population. And this is part of the problem and why we are where we are. It is very much linked to knowledge and reading is a major component of this. But well, let’s just be comformists right Syd?

            And for people thinking that I might be overly focussed on minutiae as there are more “pressing” matters (i.e. kidnappings, muggins, inflation, etc.) I would suggest them to think again and look at the big picture. It is a social problem after all. Behaviour of the society is key.

            Mediocre politicians = mediocre results

          • “You guys can keep trying to justify the unjustifiable… it won’t make the problem go away…”

            Actually, uh, nope.

            The problem must not be made tolerable at all, it has to be made as irritating, gut-wrenching and infuriating as possible (as something that has no reason to exist should be), because that’ll help catalyst the people’s anger towards the regime.

  6. I think con conciencia here might mean conscientiously or thoughtfully. In French, ” troisieme age” is used, I believe. What awful experiences to go through!

  7. Reblogged this on The MasterBlog and commented:
    It’s crazy!!! Two hours to buy washing detergent, toilet paper and milk, for what would normally take 5-10 minutes to buy! I cannot believe people are putting up with this crap.

    The fact that Venezuelans haven’t gotten rid of these troglodytes in government shows how much they’re “pissing out of the bowl”-meando fuera del perol…

    Truly sad.

  8. 1) Anabella, you deserve to be in the queue.

    2) Everybody else in Venezuela too, deserves to live in those conditions.

    3) Every opposition deserves the government it fails to defeat.

    4) Venezuela definitely deserves the government it has voted to have, the situation it worked (hard and against all rational odds) to establish, the suffering it has gone through every day, every year for the last sixteen years (and counting).

      • Well, I am not religious.

        And, more importantly, am I lying? one can queue and go on living like that for a time, but after 16 years… Sarna con gusto no pica.

        • Alejandro: can you come up with any constructive, do-able, and beneficial advice for the general population, which has to live with the consequences of early submission to a well-disguised military dictatorship? And please spare us the tones of self-appointed moralizers on their perches, among them, those who say Venezuelans should not vote.

          • Yes, emigration is the only way one can possibly moralize from a perch. Good for you and your ‘realitos’ that made leaving Vzla possible.

            And if I may introduce a little Godwin .. I strongly suspect you think that the Jews, the Gypsies, the Jehovah Witnesses, the physically and mentally challenged, and all vocal detractors of the Hitler regime, in Germany, Poland, and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, who chose to stay in their respective countries, deserved their fate.

          • With all due respect: perch your arse. I take lessons from no one, concerning work and sacrifice.

            The one moralising here is you. Venezuela today is hardly comparable to Nazi Germany, or Europe in the 1930s, so don’t give me that claptrap.

            Leaving Venezuela is actually easy. What is difficult is to emigrate and have at your arrival a nice job waiting for you. If you are willing to have your dignity trailed in the mud year after year because you are afraid of leaving… then stay, but please don’t write pseudo-funny posts about your folkloric predicaments in a queue.

            A fact of life: while many people confronting extraordinary circumstances are unable to decide their own fate (e.g Syrians, Bosnians, etc) most people are actually responsible for what happens to them to a good extent. If you are young, educated, a good English speaker and smart-ish, let me tell you, you’re are queuing for pleasure.

          • “Venezuela today is hardly comparable to Nazi Germany, or Europe in the 1930s, so don’t give me that claptrap.”

            Go tell that to the family members of all those who have been shot by regime goons, in Venezuela, either through peaceful protesting or simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

            Speaking of family, I take it all yours have left Venezuela.

          • Listen: Nazi Germany industrially terminated 10 million people, yeah? It was a highly organised totalitarian state. Venezuela is an old style, corrupt Caribbean farce incapable of organising electric energy supply.

            I know, political prisoners, torture, cruelty, cynicism… but we already had that with 90% of our past presidents. This is par for the course mate.

            Bolivar said it clearly: the only sensible thing to do is to leave.

            You can get a passport, book a plane seat and leave. if you have what it takes. Millions do it every year to live in the US or Western Europe. It is bloody hard, but better, in the long run, than spending your youth trying to reform a country that doesn’t want to be reformed.

          • Alejandro: Emigrating is not for everyone , there are people who lack the special resolve or the professional or personal wherewithal needed to contemplate emigration as a practical life alternative . Also many who feel tied down by having relatives or personal obligations that they cannot abandon without feeling disthraught or uncomfortable . Additionally many who feel so rooted to their homeland that they cannot readily contemplate making their lives elsewhere regardless of the miseries that they have to undergo for staying in their country or those who never give up and will fight an undying battle in the hope of recovering their homeland in the future . The latter people are worthy of respect because for them success its not about feeling good about what their life has to offer but about taking stands of dignity regardless of the consequences .

            When MPJ came into power there was an AD leader called Alberto Carnevali who after being in exile discovered he had an uncurable form of cancer, He decided that he would rather die a prisioner in Venezuela than as a free man abroad . So he came back, was taken to prison and after about a year died there.

            I myself have the impression that people who emigrate are either fools (who understimate the obstacles) or people who have above average character traits or professional skills that make then special , I hold people who have the resolve and courage to emigrate in great respect . My own much beloved daughter and husband decided 5 years ago to emigrate and although I miss her very very much I have supported her every way I could in her decision.

            I myself are still grappling with the decision !!

          • very true man, but my point is, this post feels stupid,

            after 16 years of BS the fact that people, all people, are willing to queue docilely to buy paper to wipe their arses is just outrageous.

          • Not only are my hands clean in the sense you mention (i have never voted for a chavista candidate in any election) but I have opposed the arseholes now in government since 1992.

            Since the day Chavez appeared on TV first, I opposed him, and the ideas he represents.

            Moreover: I owe nothing to this V Republic. Not one bolivar. I have never received a subsidy or entered in any business with these parasites,

            So there you go.

        • No perch, but you really don’t understand anything. And in the 1930’s, Jews, Gypsies, etc., were being subjects to abuse more or less similar to ours. It was after 1940 when things got really scary, and it was after 1945 when the gory details of Nazi exterminations became known. So, technically, no, Jews and Gypsies were not stupid cattle deserving their eventual fate, since It was something unimaginable in the 30’s. The ominous warning signs at the time are our interpretation more than 80 years later, and certainly not something they would have envisioned. The atrocious nature of nazism is something you deem obvious 80-something years later.

          And, about it being easy to leave or emigrate, maybe you had it easy, but it shouldn’t be so hard for you to figure out that others didn’t, and don’t. That, apart from the fact that some of us want to live in our country and chose not to leave at the first shot. We don’t say you’re chickenshit (maybe you are, but we have no way of knowing), so don’t call us stupid (maybe some of us are, but you have no way of knowing).

          • “technically, no, Jews and Gypsies were not stupid cattle deserving their eventual fate, since It was something unimaginable in the 30’s.”

            It was actually unimaginable to the Nazi bigwigs as well. Only after their invasion of Poland and the ease at which they rounded up all the jews there, with the often enthusiastic help of the Poles, did they start to expand their immediate ambitions on this front. They thought they would get far more resistance from both their own army and their occupied populations.

          • I never said Jews or Gypsies were, or behaved like, cattle.

            What I did say is: the state is powerful and able to force people to walk into submission or death.

            Hindsight is always perfect, but, as I was saying, that particular comic tells the story of Auschwitz survivors. A few members of their families escaped by travelling, others were too attached to their lives and died. Others just couldn’t imagine, or did and couldn’t run away.

            It was a horrible situation. It repeated itself several times in the XX century.

            I think it is fair to say everyone knew the Nazis were after the Jews. Khmer Rouge were after everyone and the Serbs were aiming at the Bosnians. They proclaimed their ends early on.

            But it is difficult to believe that people can become monsters.

            I boast of seeing Chavez for what he was back in 1992, but the truth I could never have imagined this. Never.

            Chavismo has gone beyond my worse nightmares. It has shown us the true face of our country.

      • Oh, but I lived there, didn’t I? I am as Venezuelan as you are. What did I do? well, seeing that a big majority thought criminals should run the country, and voted with that aim in mind, I left. I decided to leave before I was forced to conform.

        TO LEAVE. That is what I did differently.

        Some people are extremely brave, fight and go to prison. I deeply admire them but, in the presence of 200 years of misrule and bochinche, my message to these brave persons is: you are ploughing the sea. Paraphrasing Borges, Venezuelans are neither good or bad, they are incorrigible.

        • I tend to agree with you to some extent Alejandro. Either leave if you have the means or fight for your rights. Lining up like cattle to purchase toilet paper is just the beginning of the Cubazuela regime to come. From what I have seen so far, the passive nature of the Pueblo will permit Masburro and his henchmen to continue stealing as much as they can and turning Vzla. into another Cuba hellhole.

          • Nope, everybody would be saying “no” to chaburrismo if every malandro appeared lynched with the mouth full of flies every morning, if every colectivo had his head smashed with the sidewalk everytime they tried to come and kill people protesting, or that bachaqueros had all their smuggled merchandise pillaged everytime they dared to show their sickening grinning mugs on the streets.

            Sadly, people in this country are willing to endure far more shit that would be imaginable.

        • Good you were able to leave. For the majority of poor (and tons of middl-class) Venezuelans that’s not an option. I get you are probably frustrated from outside looking in, and wanting to see that things were differently, but you are not living it. And most importantly, you left phisically, but not mentally or emotionally, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading and writing here. If you really would have left Venezuela, you would not even care to see the papers (as many friends abroad have opted to do). It is easy to say that you would have done this or that. An entirely different thing is to live this. You made a choice, and I won’t criticize you for it. But DON’T feel you have the right to criticize others for deciding to stay, or even worse, for not “doing” whatever you think we should be doing to make things change.

          • Leaving is always an option. Even by bus, walking through the frontier, anything. Millions do it. Specially the poor.

            Of course I care about Venezuela but, when I do visit I realise how foreign I am there too. So I would define myself as a psychological exile. Still my life is nice enough to consider that exile as a minor inconvenience.

            My message to you is: you can live that life for some time, it isn’t your fault Venezuela is insane, but after 16 years, mate, the time of pitying yourself is past.

            I have EVERY RIGHT TO CRITICISE ANYTHING I BLOODY WANT.

            That is freedom of expression, as we recently learned again from the Charlie Hebdo guys.

          • Sure, you can criticize others and expect nobody to tell you anything. That’s the Chavistas’ concept of freedom of expression.

          • humm, lets see, you are criticising me, and that’s ok. Who is trying to stop you?

            I ask you, man to man, here: do you find normal that after 16 years of bullshit people are willing, spontaneously willing, to queue for hours to buy ass-wipes? because, I mean, in 1989 the same people destroyed the fucking economy of the country in four days, angered by a Bs 0,25 cts increase in the price of petrol.

            You tell me if I am in the right here or not.

          • I don’t think it’s a matter of being right or wrong. I just think you are utterly unfair in the way you refer to the ones who have to live this reality day in and day out. You reduce everything to a matter of choice which in our case, in almost every instance, it is not. I have not choice but to do the line when I run out of something I need whether it is for my elder parents (who can’t stand lining up for hours) or my children. It is not an option dude. Don’t sweat it. You left already. Try to be happy wherever you are.

          • LK

            I totally understand what you are going through. I sympathise.

            But, if you find yourself in the same situation after a decade and a half, and getting worse, old chap, there is something you are doing wrong.

            If you let them control you, and increase their control year after year, without you doing anything to get out of that cycle… then you are the problem, not them.

          • Alejandro: Earlier I asked you a rhetorical question, which up to now has gone unanswered:
            “…Speaking of family, I take it all yours have left Venezuela.”

            Would you answer it now?

          • You are such a fool.
            Evidently, you were a spoiled brat who was incredibly lucky, no merit, if you can say such asine things as “anyone can leave”.

          • Ok, a personal answer to an ad hominem attack:

            1) I currently work in Europe, where I was recruited because of my work elsewhere.

            2) That elsewhere is a different country which actually paid for me to go there because of my work elsewhere.

            3) that other “elsewhere” is yet another country, where I landed without money. There I had to work 12 hours a day 6 days a week and study for diploma validation tests. After I earned that validation I worked to become a professional, thanks, of course, to my education, acquired elsewhere.

            4) that last elsewhere is Venezuela, where I studied in public schools, high schools and university (btw, I got into UCV passing the extinct PAU with high grades).

            Luck exists, but you have to wake up at 6 and work hard to find it.

            Concerning merit… I wont send you to my profile in Linkedin, but let me tell you: I don’t take a step behind anyone.

            I am not spoiled. I wish! I envy spoiled brats who can go to MIT on their family’s money! on the contrary, I find myself sometimes traumatised and sad, because of the years toiling in menial jobs, years lost…

            But its ok. I have a career now, and my dignity intact.

          • I am not defending alejandro, or supporting anyone here, but the divisions created by those that left, and those that have not left, is a typical regime’s power lever.

            I argue, that leaving physically is easier, but detaching your self from the horror that Venezuela is turning to, is definitely not. Its a matter of self image. I for instance, still self identify as Venezuelan, but find it harder everyday to align my values to what I see happening “on the ground”.

            Its a general emigration issue, not ours alone, the emigrant leaves at a certain time and both he and those left behind change. No need fighting this.

            Now, I suggest we do not judge others by where they live now, or the chices they have made on emigration/ resitance/ adecuacion, etc. rather ask whether each comment is sincere and intentional to a better venezuela, or an agenda of trolls and laboratories.

            Everyone has a right oto their own opinion, but in ths blog we are bombarded by trolls and spinmasters from every faction. its for everyone to identify this.

            Fro the record, I support the maxim: people get the government they deserve! It is so clear in venenezuelas case. If we work hard and earn better, we will eventually make it.

          • Alejandro,

            You are even slower than I thought. I work in Europe, studied at Venezuelan public schools, universities, etc
            and could say just as you “I made it, and look at my LinkedIn, it’s longer than yours”

            But then I would be as silly as you.

            Evidently, you know shit about Venezuela. About empathy you have zero. You have no bloody idea what it is how lucky one can be just for having a certain upbringing in Venezuela.

            Dignity? My foot. You have a career and a job in Europe, as a hundred thousand Venezuelans.
            That doesn’t show anything.
            Obviously, you are not capable of analysing what the lives of most Venezuelans have been since they were born. You are lucky but lack so much empathy that you cannot look beyond your little little world.
            Yeah, like Pedro Pacheco can just take a bus and “work hard” and that would guarantee what you and I and others got abroad.

          • Kepler, social resentment is what got Venezuela in its present predicament.

            Get out of it.

            Listen, if you actually read what I am saying you would find my message is this: after 16 years, taking more shit from the government is your decision.

            And that applies for anything and everything.

            Posting a story about how interesting it is to queue is offensive to me. It’s a confirmation of voluntary debasement.

            If resentment originated this, conformism is keeping it going,

          • “…because, I mean, in 1989 the same people destroyed the fucking economy of the country in four days, angered by a Bs 0,25 cts increase in the price of petrol…”

            And THERE is where you are wrong, wrong, so wrong, that you’ll be told to buy a freakin’ compass to learn how to aim.

            1989 was NEVER a “people’s protest”, it was a fucking coup-invasion orchestrated by the cuban rotting turdbag, aiming to overthrow the elected government and that used backstabbing tactics to slaughter venezuelans in order to create an excuse to destroy the goverment later.

            Why people still think on this day that the coup of 1989 was a “spontanous protest of the starving people”?

    • It’s Anabella’s fault, personally, that Venezuela still suffers under Chavismo?

      Simplistic, callous, and incoherent. You hit a kind of trifecta, I suppose…

      • I am a yanqui and have no right to take sides on the leave/stay argument. I just want to mention that with the continued cubanization of your country, the time will come when, if you want to leave, you will have to shoot your way out.

        • Actually I am a yanqui as well, I am just responding to the idea that Venezuelans who do choose to stay should be blamed for lining up like everyone else when their options are so limited. From my comfortable seat in the U.S. it is easy to say “Why do you take that without resisting?” If I were living there, and resisting could cost me my life, I can’t say for sure how courageous I would be (probably not very). I know I would certainly be narrowly focused on survival.

          I like the post – “you’ve heard about the lines, this is what it’s like to be in one,” especially given that disinformation and playing down the hardships is the normative strategy of this gobierno de rateros. As an outsider I do want to hear first-hand reports of what daily life is like for most Venezuelans. To document and report to the outside world is in itself a courageous and appropriate act of rebellion.

          Of course you are right – how sad and nauseating this whole thing is…

          • “To document and report to the outside world is in itself a courageous and appropriate act of rebellion.”

            I couldn’t agree more.

            And let’s be thankful modern technology makes world-wide communication easier, and censorship harder, than, say, back in ’59.

    • Alejandro.

      I usually like your input, but c’mon.

      1. What is the point of this comment. Why specifically call out Anabella, for example? Maybe she has sick parents she has to stay and take care of, or is the only wage earner for lots of dependents, or whatever. Maybe she’s been beaten and worse for her participation in oppo marches and similar activities but still fights on. You don’t know anything about her, how can you say she deserves anything?

      2. Utter idiocy and tone deaf arrogance. There are many good, hardworking people who don’t deserve to live in this situation. I agree that many (most?) Venezuelans deserve it, those who were happy to go along with things or didn’t do anything to stop the situation, but not certainly not all. There are many who have grown up in worse situations than you, who have worked harder their whole lives than you ever have, and have done so without taking part or money from any of the corrupt governments.

      Your general point is clearly true. That Venezuelans, as a whole, may deserve this. But that hardly means every Venezuelan deserves any of this is ridiculous and insulting. Your invective is neither helpful or productive.

      And, reality check, 95% of immigrants have to work their asses off compared to the average person as they establish themselves in their new country. Many have to work a lot harder than you ever have for their whole life to make a better life for their kids. You certainly should be proud of what you have done, but let’s not get carried away.

    • I couldn’t agree more with you. I left that prompt-to-be-a- mess country in 1996. The situation was infinitely better back then but still saw much of this coming. I didn’t speak the language and had only $1,700 in my pocket. Mom and dad left behind. An engineer degree that meant nothing without a degree here. Do I feel sorry for those who decided to stay, not at all except for the older ones. For much less of what is happening people with 3 dedos de frente would have left many years ago. My IQ is average but I got to become the CFO of an organization. If could make it I don’t understand why others can’t. I’m usually not this blunt but this level of conformism just makes me feel sick.

        • ” If could make it I don’t understand why others can’t. ”

          Maybe some people didn’t wanted to leave their comfort zone and thought that things wouldn’t end this bad?

  9. “My mom had paid BsF 52 for a pack on Friday. It now costs BsF 83.”

    Is a 31 BsF change a sign of inflation or volatility? You might say, same difference, but not quite. One is a long term trend, another measures fluctuations. Inflation measures the *average* cost of an item, volatility is probably related to dramatic changes in supply and demand and correlates with scarcity.

    Anyway, what an ordeal. Really gripping reading, I didn’t think I’d ever say that about a description of standing in line to go shopping.

  10. No se si habran seguido a Angel Garcia Banchs ultimamente. Yo no lo conozco, pero es doctor en economia y trabaja en una consultora economica seria (econometrica). Dice que los inventarios se van a acabar en Abril/Mayo y que se va a desplomar el consumo por falta de bienes que consumir. Lo lleva diciendo desde por lo menos Noviembre del ano pasado. Any thoughs? Aqui esta su ultimo articulo:
    http://runrun.es/la-economia/economia/195830/cuestion-de-semanas-por-angel-garcia-banchs.html.

    • Mac:

      El viene indicando desde hace rato ya lo que tenemos y lo que viene. Antes el Sr. Banchs publicaba en El Universal su columna, pero ultimamente no la he visto alli.

      Tambien, el o la Sr./Sra. Caracas Canadian (postea aqui con frecuencia) sobre las cantidades de buques atracados y por atracar en Pto. Cabello, que estan en franco descenso desde hace tiempo.

  11. Anabella & Barbara: my sympathies. What a waste of valuable productive time. Ooops, I forgot, the productive engine of the country has largely ground to a halt.

    What struck me about the report was the photograph of the ‘comprobante’ with the caption: ‘Catch of the Day’. Maquinitas, numbers, fingerprints, long queues, tracking slips of ever purchase … all monitoring citizens and their consumption habits from a centralized location.

  12. “The govt has totally stopped talking about the so called economic war , its a dead topic now . the phocus for a while was on the despicable plots of the opposition and lately on getting angry and rejecting the Obama decree. The daily travails and sufferings of countless people dont exist for them Remember that also getting much worse is the inflation and the crimes .”

    Sorry, but our people are either scared, oppressed by the guard, afraid of not getting the products, or just extremely uneducated and… dumb sheep.

    I mean, dealing with this everyday, for years now, y todavia se la calan? I know it’s easy for us to opine from our safe, abundant homes overseas.. but c’mon. How can 25% of our people still believe in this abominable system, and the rest say nothing?!

    When they do talk in those Colas, they still talk about Obama and el Imperio Ataca, part III?!

    You have to wonder, indeed, if “sarna con gusto no pica” or if we deserve, to some extent, what we are getting.

    • I currently do some 6 – 7 colas a week . Been doing it for about a month now . Most of those with people who are not middle class . In general when people discuss the cause of the colas . :
      1. None , not one argues that its the result of a guerra economica .
      2. People are heavily sarcastic about the promises of Maduro to solve the shortage problems .
      3. Very common : to complain (i) its the govts mismanagement fault (Middle class) or (ii) its the govt bosses stealing all the money ( Popular take) .
      4. One making a long queue said “Im Chavista but not a Madurista’ .
      5. People are not happy making the cola , they try and entertain themselves through conversation , but being in the cola is not a welcome experience but an insulting one .
      6. If there are guards close by the complaints become less outspoken
      7. People start by being glum and silent and as the queue goes on become more talkative and complaining
      .

  13. BTW, excellent reporting, thanks. I wish there were more true stories about what people actually talk about during these infernal colas, shows how Stupid we are as a populace, or how scared and prudent, or desperate, or Lame Sheep.

    Perhaps2 out of 3 on these lines are Enchudisimos and Corrupted to the bone, in one way or another. (Bogus jobs, free casita, free electricity, tigritos, favorcitos, palancas… And that’s the main reason que se calan las colas and put up with it.

  14. I don’t completely agree with Alejandro here, but his remarks are valid, worth commenting on:

    “2) Everybody else in Venezuela too, deserves to live in those conditions.”

    No. Not everyone. As corrupt and “guilty” as many in our populace are, a certain minority are victims (poor, not enchufados, naive, uneducated: not their fault). Unlike you or me, dude, most Venezuelans cannot just leave, and live comfortable lives overseas, comprende?

    However, a good majority do deserve to live in those conditions: Every single enchufado, Millions and Millions of Spineless Government employees, ALL in the Putrid Military, all of the lazy, greased-up Chavistas, etc: None of those should complain if they get shot in the streets, or stand forever in Colas.

    “3) Every opposition deserves the government it fails to defeat.”

    Again, you exaggerate. Incorrect. Our opposition does the best it can, they are fragmented, dumb – sure, under-educated as most of our populace – just like Caprilito – sure, but they do not deserve any of it: they are also Threatened to be killed, or jailed, etc. So why don’t you go over there, Alejandrito, with your family, rent an apartment in Caracas and hit the streets!?!

    “4) Venezuela definitely deserves the government it has voted to have, the situation it worked (hard and against all rational odds) to establish, the suffering it has gone through every day, every year for the last sixteen years (and counting).”

    Flawed generaliztion, again. Not all of CorruptZuela deserves what they are getting. Especially if you agree that the Root cause of all this is the lack of Education, thus poverty, corruption, and ignorance.

    But there’s something to say about the fact that “democracy” worked to some extent, what we have in power Does reflect to some extent who we are in general (similar in education, twisted morale as government leeches) , and the people in power should be Elite: better morals, more intelligent, more educated) not the average Joe.

    What we’ve elected is Masburros, Cabellos.. Trash. Even Chavez was trash, way too average venezolanito avispao, that’s all.

    So to that extent, and for the lack of rebellious Nerve now, we are getting what we deserve. To some extent.

    • Well, you here illustrate why the opposition is so lame.

      “Caprilito”? that guy got more than 7 million votes IN VENEZUELA. And you would say the main aim of the opposition has been to destroy him, not the regime.

      LL and MCM were so wrong to call for street protests you would say THEY were living abroad, not us. Even we here knew that strategy had no chance.

      • “…that guy got more than 7 million votes IN VENEZUELA…”

        Just for the record, I gave my vote to another guy in the prime elections, elections where Capriles “vayan a bailar salsa en vez de cobrar” got barely more than a fourth of the votes.

        Nevertheless, the deal was “choose a candidate in primary elections, then that one faces against the corpse”, but trying to use that “I got seven million votes” as an argument to impose a viewpoint actually sounds really moronic.

        “LL and MCM were so wrong to call for street protests…”

        They didn’t call for the protests, the people started protesting by their own, it was later when they had extended that LL and MCM hop into them.

  15. One word, in spanish: ADECUACION.

    the regime knows people just want to live their lives and adapt and adequate themselves to the situation.
    They tighten the nut slowly, but relentlessly. When they get too much noise or resistance, they yield for while, go tight another “nut” and when the time is more appropriate come back…

    What is really lacking is an opposition, or opinion makers making a point of this systemic behaviour and the regime’s big game. People keep distracting themselves by the smoke screen of the day (obama deroga el decreto nowdays, guerra economica last month, etc….)

    When they wake up, they would either be in new Cuba if the regime survives itself, or in a big mess after the regime’s orgy comes to an end.

    In any case very few voices are telling the story and influencing public opinion.

    Por sus actos los conocereis. …

  16. The local supermarket also keeps close tabs on how much I spend and on what, they know my birthday, where I live, probably how much I earn, and whether I have children (and their age). A total invasion of privacy. They send personalized coupons that match what I buy, and redeemable vouchers, and they send a small “present” for my birthday. They send me a monthly magazine full with recipes. They work hard to streamline the layout of the supermarket to make sure I see all the shelves filled with products and so I don’t get too tired walking around and finding stuff, they make sure it is spotless and fresh, and they often have tasting booths where they offer a small free snack. They provide assistance to parents with children, including convenient parking and a guarded playroom. If checkout lines start to get too long they make sure extra personnel comes quickly to assist. And they lend portable scanners to make checkout fast and automatic.

    Maduro, capitalism really is terrible.

    • Not to mention sale items such as buy one get another free, smiling employees greeting you and asking if you need help finding anything, etc. Still waiting to see that with “21st Century Socialism”. Evil capitalists!

    • Hey, even capitalist supermarkets run out of things.

      Mine gives away free ice cream cones and when we went to get ours, (since it is a favorite thing to do while shopping with a 4 year old) they were out! I was aghast! How dare they run out of an item they were giving away for free. If only there was a market mechanism that would keep such a thing from happening.

      Then I realized it was 8 PM on a Sunday and their trucks come in on Monday.

      So we picked up some bananas and one of the 40 or so brands in the freezer section and made banana splits.

      Truly, the horrors of capitalism. Bring on the price controls!

  17. Alejandro’s comments (however belittling and snarky), and the discussion that has followed, highlight the moral quandary facing Venezuelans today. The decision is an existential one of “Fight or Flight”. It is a very personal decision that must be made — one that has been faced by individuals throughout the history of humanity.

    Both choices have their own merits. Staying and fighting is often considered the more moral of the two. At the Alamo in the Texas Independence War, a hundred volunteers stayed and held off 10,000 Mexican soldiers for several days buying Sam Houston time to organize a counter-attack. Their heroism is honored, but they were all killed in the process. I cannot say what they thought about their decision after it became clear what the consequences were. No doubt, some regretted it, and wished they had run away. But, why did they stay in the first place? Their prospects for survival were not good. Well, they stayed because they were fighting for something they considered so important and valuable that they were willing to give their lives for it. That, of course, is an extreme example.

    In another example, in ancient Pompeii, after days of watching the volcano that was Mt. Vesuvius smoking and spitting fire, only a small portion of the population had heeded the warning and fled to safety. When the volcano erupted, the entire town of Pompeii was buried killing everyone who stayed. In this case, history shows that the ones who abandoned their homes and businesses and fled made the correct decision. Though had the volcano not erupted and returned to dormancy, their friends and family might have belittled their fears afterwards, while they tried to put their lives back together. In the end, the “right” or “wrong” of our decisions is often decided by events beyond our control.

    Human history and stories are filled with people faced by these types of moral and existential dilemmas. The Jews of Europe facing the rise of Nazism before WWII, a captain refusing to abandon his sinking ship, a mother defending to children to the death. What one needs to ask when faced with such a decision is firstly, “Is what I am fighting for worth it?” and secondly, “What are my chances of winning?”. Like most things in life, it is a “risk-benefit” analysis. And, as in most such calculations, there are a lot of imponderable factors involved. Such decisions are made with our hearts as much as with our minds.

    Alejandro is not “wrong” in his decision. He made the choice that he feels was best for him and his family, as have over a million Venezuelans to-date. So far, the verdict of history is on his side. Where he is “wrong” is in being smug about it and belittling those who have decided that their country is worth fighting for.

    • Just made that decision myself last week. After finally completing all of the requirements and BS I managed to get my Venz passport so that I can help vote the bastards out…..and then my wife and I bailed out of Dodge. One less gringo on the streets of Caracas for the motorizados to hold up.

      • Congratulations CC! Made the same move myself. Life is too short and can be even shorter remaining in a lawless country.

    • I would venture to guess that most Cubans that fled when Castro came to power, and shortly thereafter, have no regrets, even if it required floating on an innertube to Florida. I see no difference with the Venezuelan situation. If you’re not willing to protest and refuse to accept the current conditions, prepare mentally to become enslaved by your masters. Standing in a cola for 5 or 6 hours will be the least of your problems.

    • I totally agree with you Roy. While I don’t appreciate Alejandro acting as a bully, I can relate to him as his responses stem from the frustration he, and many like him who live abroad, feel when they see the mess our country has turned into. It is totally foolish to discuss who is right – the ones who left or the ones who stayed. There’s no point in that. But even on that the regime has done a superb job: everything is polarized – black or white, big or small, good or bad.

      I would never criticize Alejandro or anyone for leaving. I have left myself a couple of times and returned for different reasons. The first time I was away for a long time and thought would never come back. And I used to be very critical of those living here for not standing up against Chávez or taking the Miraflores palace by surprise. But now that I live here again, I can see that is not as simple. Ours is an incredibly complex reality. The mere fact to step outside on the street is an act of faith and bravery, when even in your own block malandros have killed an innocent bystander.

      One thing is true though: we have a long way to go in terms of how we become active citizens. The issue of education, of cultivating ourselves (that someone raised in this conversation, reading books in the queue for food) is very relevant. That – for me – is a crucial part of the problem. And we’ve been dragging that from the IV República. And the V República made worse of course.

    • Roy,

      The point is not whether it is good or bad to leave. As I already said, I also left, I also had studied in Venezuela and did it all for myself and could work in North America or Europe and blabla, like many others.
      I don’t find any shit of that special.

      Alejandro is being demeaning to a large proportions of Venezuelans who are in Venezuela and who would have much, much more difficulties to leave the country than any of of us. For him they are either stupid or crazy. And that position is rather blind. Leaving or staying are personal choices dependent on a myrid of conditions that Alejandro cannot comprehend.

      I don’t judge people who leave – like I did – or those who say. I find it shocking that Alejandro can be so ignorant of the many items that shape those people’s lives who are staying in Venezuela.

    • There is a comic called “Maus” that tells the story of two Polish Jews who survived Auschwitz. When you read it, slowly you realise that jews actually had a window, roughly open from 1933 to 1937, when the signs were clear and there was freedom to escape.

      Many did escape. Most never believed things would get to the extreme they reached (no vale, yo no creo). I mean, who could believe the most civilised nation would become a herd of murderers?

      Others were too old, too poor, too tangled in family.

      The example of European Jews is appropriate. Millions of them marched voluntarily to their deaths. So strong is the power of the organised state, it can make people walk to the gas chamber with scarcely any resistance.

      In our own small Caribbean scale we are mimicking the experience of European Jewry. The state is compelling Venezuelans to act like cattle under death threats.

      Two important details: Jews did not want to be killed and did not vote the Nazis into power

      Venezuelans, many of them, a voting majority, have chosen this state of affairs.

      When Maduro orders a defence rehearsal and thousands follow in order to get a kilo of food, well, this is it, isn it? What do you want to do? which country do you expect to rescue?

      When an educated, English speaking woman dedicates herself to measure inflation at home, and narrating her queuing adventures…

      My message is this, take it as you like it: Leave, any cost you face will be cheaper than staying.

      You living in Venezuela are the Jew in Poland in 1938.

      There are already people living in concentration camps in Venezuela. They call them “prisons”.

      I am not a bully. I am someone who saw Hugo Chavez for what he was on February 6 1992. Don’t you think i may actually be right?

      No vale, yo no creo.

      • Your comparison of Jews in the Holocaust and Venezuelans now are beyond retarded.

        Much like the Syrians today, or Nigerians, Ethiopians, etc, they were facing Genocide, and War. That’s why they had no option but try to flee, en masse.

        Corruptzuela is in bad shape, but has NOTHING to do with that.

        • sorry, but if we are talking about the slow implantation of a totalitarian state, well, you tell me.

          If you are talking about genocide, I answer with 25000 violent deaths per year with a 98% of impunity.

          That is more deaths than Irak right now.

          If you are talking about food scarcity…

          Increasing isolation from the world…

          Social anomie…

          If I am retarded because I notice these signs, what are you because you ignore them?

          • Your logic is beyond Atrocious.. ZERO common sense, you said you attended the UCV… I see.. comparing the Jew/Nazis 6 Dead with Gas and Bombs, and the yearly death from multiple occurrences all over Vzla: Brilliant!

          • Floyd, man, leave it. I think Nazi Germany in (say) 1937 is very different from Venezuela today in many ways.

            For one thing, they were better educated.

            In other ways, there are similarities. All totalitarianisms share traits. If don’t see them, well, that is your prerogative.

            Concerning the deaths, there are similarities: impunity, disregard for the value of human life, deaths executed by government officials and most of all, dysfunction of the judicial system (remember the infamous Padrino Decree?)

            One useful sign: if you see government sponsored bodies of armed people wearing shirts of a symbolic colour… careful.

          • Dude, you insist on comparing a major WAR, Genocide, mass destruction, in Vzla now, when it pertains to people deciding wether to stay or leave the country, as if some have the choice.. and on top of that you say it’s easy for anyone to leave Vzla, and much more complete NONSENSE.

            Not a single blogger has agreed or will agree with your utter stupidity. Give it up.

      • Alejandro,

        The case of the Jews in Nazi Germany is an example so horrific that it is in a class of its own. Using that example is self-defeating, because the argument that the case in point comes no where near to the same level of magnitude is easy to make. If I had to produce a historic parallel, I would say that Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge is more apt. In a way, that genocide was even more deadly if you consider that about a quarter of the population of that country was eventually killed.

        Personally, I still think that a collapse of that magnitude can still be avoided in Venezuela, though I admit that my hopes are dwindling.

        • you are right.

          But, after seeing government thugs stripping people naked in the street to humiliate them, to negate their dignity… After seeing the queues guarded by soldiers to buy soap… MP asking for death penalty for “traitors”…

          Man, you wonder, how did things get so nasty? Who would have thought Venezuelans were so mean?

          The Jewish experience has unfortunately served as a blueprint for more than one government.

  18. “As we cross the glass door, the scene is utter CHAOS”

    Every time I see this kind of scene – people running like mad after “un kilo de ACE” or “un paquete de papel toilette”, I just remember my childhood days and hearing, at eeeeeevery birthday party I was ever at, the very educational tune:

    “Dale, dale, dale a la piñata… túmbala pal suelo queremos caramelo!!!”.

    And parents intructing their kids: “agarra tu bolsita y te metes antes que los demás, si no, te quedas sin nada”.

    Central Madeirense is the piñata for grownups, and “caramelos” come in the form of Harina PAN, ACE, etc…

  19. Alejandro: I suggest you go back to school, ASAP, and learn the most important thing: how to think. Esprit D’Analyse, if you will.

    “1) I currently work in Europe, where I was recruited because of my work elsewhere.”

    2) That elsewhere is a different country which actually paid for me to go there because of my work elsewhere.

    3) that other “elsewhere” is yet another country, where I landed without money. There I had to work 12 hours a day 6 days a week and study for diploma validation tests. After I earned that validation I worked to become a professional, thanks, of course, to my education, acquired elsewhere.”

    Lucky you, but correct if I’m wrong:

    1/ You did not have to work as a child, growing up, say in Guatire or Barcelona or anywhere south of CCS, right? Were you born in the country side or in Ranchos, as Millions are born in Vzla?

    2/ Your parents were already somewhat educated, middle-upper class, (wild guess..) and paid for a shyt load of stuff, including school, good food, trips, traveled abroad, paid by parents, etc, for you to learn at least English, travel, open your mind (not enough, obviously, but you know what I mean). Correct?

    3/ That company that hired was BECAUSE of all that, to begin with. Not saying that you didn’t work, most of us work hard too. Except under nice, air conditioning, huh?!

    4/ You probably already had freinds, family in Europe, huh? (wild guess again, I’m clairvoyant, you see..) and the working papers you got, Visas, were given by the company or through parents, huh?!

    Unlike most poor, uneducated Venezuelans, ok? Most don’t even dream to leave, never traveled or saw anything but maybe Colombia, if near the border, comprende?

    Most of over 3 Million of us clase-media, educated Venezuelans that left, here in Miami or Europe, had those special conditions and early opportunities. You should be thankful, instead of arrogant,

    As I wrote before, I do share a few concepts with you, to some extent. But wake up, give thanks, and go back to school ASAP.

    • Floyd, you are wrong to judge without evidence.

      1) I didn’t have to work as a child, but I was born and raised in a barrio in South Caracas. As in, inside it. I went to school in it. It wasn’t nice.

      2) My mother acquired her education while we were at public school. My father couldn’t complete his. Both had to work during their childhoods to survive.

      The did buy us things. We had nice toys, but nothing rich or extravagant. We were lower middle class (in Britain you would call us Working Class).

      3) This transparent, precise English you are reading is all mine. No courses, no schools, nothing. Just me, learning alone. I speak a couple of other languages, but I took courses.

      And I am very proud of my Spanish too.

      4) No travels abroad until adulthood.

      5) No friends in Europe, or elsewhere. No European passport (not even now, when I could actually apply for one) My wife and I emigrated roughly at the same time. My parents are Venezuelan.

      My papers, visas, residence permits I got thanks to my own effort.

      6) I wasn’t recruited by companies, but by one ministry of science and one university. I dislike the private sector (not that the public sector is much nicer).

      7) I am thankful. My family, my teachers were really good to me.

      8) I am very thankful to the IV Republic. It gave my mother the chance to study for free. It gave me the chance to get out of poverty.

      So, you see, you are not clairvoyant, you are just an arsehole. Another garden variety arsehole in a world full of them.

      • “I dislike the private sector…”

        Wow…! Your disdain for people who actually make and do real things in the real world is noted.

        • No, is not that. I just dislike the raw competitiveness that sometimes you find there. But the public sector is becoming the same thing.

          No peace of mind anywhere, these days.

          And you would be wrong to say the public sector makes nothing. Actually, you are alive now and writing in a computer thanks to investments and achievements made by the public sector. But I will not walk into that swamp now.

      • Not gonna waste more time with your crap. You obviously don’t get it. Again, go back to school, and count your blessings, Lucky RETARD.

        • As I said, I may be lucky, but luck is something you find while working.

          Don’t get so riled up, man. You shouldn’t be angry with me, but with the people who are actually doing bad things to you and your family (like the government).

          • I already specified to what extent I concur with some of your exaggerated observations here.

            Some of the other stuff you wrote is plain wrong, for OBVIOUS reasons everyone has pointed out to you already here. Not just incorrect, but disdainful, arrogant and pedantic.

            I commend you if it’s true that you came from a lower-middle class Venezuelan family, and climbed all the way to Europe by yourself. I doubt it, but if so, that’s respectable. Most of us who left Venezuela had more help than what you claim you had, and admit from the start we are Fortunate.

            Go back to school, this time try Private school, perhaps, see if you learn something about basic Empathy, Humbleness, and above all Gratitude.

  20. So many smart things have been written in this blog that its hard to add anything to whats been said . Except that :
    1. Alejandro seems to be oversimplifying how easy it is for most people to leave their country and emigrate to a better place. Its a much more complicated situation for many and there all kind of obstacles to doing so even if you realize its a very logical thing to do if you want to preseve your quality of life and freedom
    2. It aint over yet , I expect emigrations could mount very quickly later in the day as conditions worsen , specially among the middle class, the young. the better capacitated to make a life abroad because of their professions , skills , command of foreign languages , family or professional contacts .
    3.,. Whatever the number of emigrants the great mayority of Venezuelan for ill or worse will feel forced to remain n the country trying to externally adapt to the changing life conditions but at the same time staying angry and hostile to a regime they loathe and abhorr , waiting for an opportunity to topple it institutionally or non institutionally. Some of course will not only adapt but will be very happy with the regime because theyve been brainwashed , these however we already know are in the minority and as time passes will continue to be a minority .
    4. History is full of surprises , sometimes quite a small event can turn things arround , nobody can predict how things will evolve or change in future . how a regime change could happen in the next 12 months or later .
    5. An armed uprising againts a professionally armed enemy is not very likely if people are unarmed and unacostumed to the practice of violence , there is no shame involved in not being specially inclined to armed revolt , We should abandon that cult of the rebellious people topling a governent . thats usually BS still its not out of the books it can still happen , maybe if enough people go to the streets part of the military get riled up and end up by staging a revolt , thats what happened in Roumania for example . Not likely but not discardable.

    Well too much said already , time to let it go .

    • Following up on what I said earlier, for most people, the decision to leave or stay is not actually made. For most, it is the result of no decision. Many consider leaving, but simply put off doing it because it would be difficult. Like the people living on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius probably said, “Well, let’s wait and see. Maybe this will pass…”

        • I say cojones are a scarce item in most places , we admire people who have them , but they are really exceptional , the default case for most human beings is a deficit of cojones , just part of the ordinary human condition , There is a macho cult of brash cojones in Venezuela , but for years now very few people have evidenced having them and if they have them they often use them to do things which arent very bright . Thats why I admire people who emigrate because by emigrating they show they are exceptional in having more cojones than those that stay behind . Most people are naturally possesed ot mediochre and indolent personalities . Blaming them for being average humans is useless and maybe petulant because by comdemning them for lack of cojones you are implicitly praising yourself for having them !!

          When France was defeated in WWII by the Nazis , De Gaulle decided to continue to challenge German might by forming an exile army, he expected half of france to follow him to continue the struggle from the ultramarine colonies . The great writers, academicians , great scientists , public men etc . When on leaving he turned back to see who was behind he discovered he was all alone . Most frenchmen stayed behind and made their peace with the Nazis. The much vaunted resistence movement was very much a small clique thing, most frenchmen had nothing to do with it ,!!

          There are lots of people with cojones in Venezuela , but we cant see it because we think that if you have cojones you have to histrionically and heroically exhibit them for all to see . That sometimes is foolish , sometimes you dont go about bragging about your cojones because its not the right time to make them count . Also people not abundantly endowed with cojones sometimes are nspired by certain situations where they come out and show themselves in an spontneous burst .!! Never know when that can happen but it does happen given the right provokation , Roumanians were conformists for year and years adapting to the Communist Regime , then there was a massacre at some provincial city ( not the first) and every one felt enough and rose in mass revolt. !!

          • Nicely put. Good humanitarian perspective, BB. But may I add a related phenotype? There’s a pseudo-cojones set who wander about these Commentariats, likely other social media, periodically puffing themselves up in self-importance, avoiding true introspection, and announcing by various means how easy it is to leave. In the case of women, one or two may say, “I did it! The decision was easy. You can do it too.” But those of us who have been around the block, know that these ladies aren’t disclosing or acknowledging the long conversations, the back-and-forth rationalizations, and the push-pull by another, i.e. a husband. Maybe they’re plain delusional about the realities. And/or, they need to appear to others as courageous, as having ‘cojones’, when in fact, realistic elements would tarnish their glow.

          • Your point is well taken and apologize if I sounded petulant. It is frustrating though to see a whole country going down the drain and find blogs like this where people seem to be conformed with the situation or at least getting adjusted to it. I consider myself an average human being however with very little tolerance for what is so obviously wrong. As I mentioned before, I left the country back in 1996 for much less of what is happening now, and I’m sure I couldn’t have made a better decision. Not because of what I have accomplished here but because I would be probably death by now should I have stayed in Venezuela. I’m not exaggerating. I would have fought any stupid cola or any type of chavista’s abuse for that matter against me or my family. So my point is, for how much longer Venezuelans will continue to adjust to the situation until they finally either emigrate or say stop to the very small chavista minority. I don’t think blogs like these help to answer that question. In fact I think it just encourages other to, well, accommodate their needs to what is available, and that irritates me to the bones. Cubans have taken the same attitude for the last 50 years, at least the ones who decided to stay.

  21. My impression is a little bit different from most.

    First of all, the regime is steadfastly against capitalism and is either profoundly ignorant or in a pathological state of denial that socialism is capable of sustaining a productivity necessary for a 21st Century quality of life. Second of all, the regime seems to believe that its power to control descent is sufficient regardless of how bad shortages and inflation and crime become. This might be true, and we will eventually find out.

    Second of all, the Venezuelan pueblo is on an economic ride that I would liken to a trolley out of control and accelerating downhill to an unknown fate. Jumping off the trolley would be dangerous and could cause injury, but jumping off later as the trolley continues to accelerate is even more dangerous. So, by default, everyone is hanging on and waiting to see what happens.

    Third of all, it appears that the economy is continuing to collapse and there is nothing foreseeable to reverse the course. The regime is either unable or willing to do anything to soften the collapse.

    • The economy will deteriorate to some point where petroleum revenues support various obligations and whatever is left over is what the pueblo has to learn to accept or not accept. If it is not acceptable, I am pretty sure this regime is going to do whatever is necessary to suppress any uprising and it will be ugly. The uglier it gets, the angrier the pueblo.

  22. The economic collapse is a regime’s priority to further their relative strength with their oppressed masses. it will not stop.

    he change of staus quo will come not from a challenge to the regime, but rather from a disintegration of it into factions fighting for diminishing rents and assets.

    The proverbial borrachines peleando la botella vacia.

    Teh dynamic is almost impossible to slow down or avoid IMO. the damage has been done and the harest will come.

    Sad days for Venezuela (again we may all be wrong) from my FB account all I see is happiness, rumba y mas bonche….

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