Foreign journos in Venezuela today have a fotógrafo de billetes problem. Just like the fictional Chigüiresque “bill photographer” who couldn’t sleep at night fretting that he was running out of ideas for how to take pictures of bank notes, foreign journalists in Venezuela are under constant pressure to find new ways to say the same thing. The result is a kind of arms race with journalists trying to outdo each other on how to communicate a single, grim, overwhelming fact: the country is preternaturally fucked.

That’s how Gawker has decided to put it, leveraging the full potential to put F-Bombs-in-headlines that being a new media outlet opens up for them.

Thing is, even those guys are running into diminishing returns. Venezuela is so Fucked is a good, eye-catching headline, but it doesn’t leave you much room to grow. The follow up is going to be a necessarily derivative Venezuela Still Fucked – accurate, sure, but a little tired. By round three, the downsides to this strategy start to become unmissable: Venezuela More Fucked Than Ever just looks desperate.

More buttoned-down media are participating in this same arms race in a, um, more buttoned-down kind of way. Bloomberg tries to throw reporting at the problem, with a genuinely upsetting piece entitled Yellow Water, Dirty Air, Power Outages: Venezuela Hits a New Low that piles on the reportorial detail until you’re ready to slit your wrists. 

The lack of public order means attempts to alleviate the problems are going poorly. Water trucks dispatched to help reduce suffering from the drought, for example, are being routinely robbed.

“Two or three times a week a water truck we send out is robbed,” said Tatiana Noguera, a water official. “The trucks get stopped by gangs who make the driver change the route and discharge the water in an area they control.”

More than 3,700 cases of respiratory illness related to calima have been reported at state health centers around Caracas since March, said Dr. Miguel Viscuna, an epidemiologist. Medicine — like toilet paper, chicken and other basic goods — is increasingly hard to find.

“The water is coming out very yellow, very bad quality,” said Ana Carvajal, an infectious disease specialist at the Universitario Hospital in Caracas. “We’re seeing an uptick in different illnesses, especially diarrhea. The lack of clean water is causing skin problems like scabies and folliculitis. There’s no medicine. All we can do is prescribe sulfur soap.”

In 2015, Venezuela’s economy — largely dependent on the sale of oil — contracted by 5.7 percent and is expected to shrink by an additional 8 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. The currency has lost 98 percent of its value on the black market since Maduro took office in 2013. Inflation is projected to rise to nearly 500 percent.

All of this has made Maduro not a very popular leader. His opponents won an overwhelming victory in legislative elections in December. But nearly every attempt by the new legislature to take the country in a new direction has been blocked by Maduro and a Supreme Court he appointed right after the elections.

“We voted and we won,” said Mendoza, the hairdresser, as she choked back tears. “But now we see that all has been for nothing.”

Jesus…that bills photographer had it good…

20 COMMENTS

  1. Como lector tengo el mismo “problema”. Aparte de leer las recomendaciones de Maduro sobre el peinado de las mujeres (gracias una vez más, Nacky Soto), no he encontrado más surrealismo, mágico o no, durante las últimas semanas. Si nos vamos al lado serio de todo esto, lo que ha ocurrido en este periodo de tiempo era perfectamente previsible y esto te lo pone difícil si eres periodista.

    La primavera árabe empezó con un frutero quemándose a lo bonzo después de ser robado y humillado. El número de humillaciones y abusos que sufrió la pobalción previamente tiende al infinito pero por motivos que nadie conoce, esa fue la gota que colmó el baso. Me pregunto dónde está el frutero venezolano, cuanto tardará en aparecer o si el chavismo ha aprendido bien la lección del comunismo cubano y será capaz de aguantar un buen número de décadas más. Nunca olvido el primer post de esta página, hace más de una década y cómo en esencia venía a decir lo mismo que siguen diciendo ahora. Nada es descartable entonces.

  2. Pues me parece muy bien que cuenten la cosa como es, aquí en UK aparte del cometario con media sonrisa sobre la falta de papel toilet, la gente en general sabe poquísimo o nada sobre la situación en Venezuela. Parece que por costumbre nosotros mismos no nos damos cuenta de lo grave e increíble de la situación.

    De verdad es inaceptable lo que está pasando. Espero que cuando salgamos de esto no pase como siempre y nadie pague por semejante desastre y destrucción generalizados. Se deben buscar responsables políticos y criminales, alguien tiene que responder por todo esto.

    Igualmente va siendo hora de promover un cambio radical en la forma en la que concebimos el país: erradicar el presidencialismo, privatizar la empresa petrolera (de hecho, privatizar absolutamente todo), crear un Servicio Público que de verdad forme gerentes públicos y acabar con el amiguismo y clientelismo a la hora de la asignación de los puestos de gobierno deberían ser temas en la agenda de quien pretenda sacar a Venezuela del pozo séptico en el cual el chavismo y la fuerza armada convirtieron el país.

    Punto aparte merece la bazofia de fuerza armada que lamentablemente tenemos, desde su creación se han creído con el derecho de gobernar Venezuela (heredado del supuesto ejército libertador). Lastimosamente han sido una verdadera desgracia para el país., Se debería buscar la forma de eliminar la actual institución y asegurarse de acabar con esa suerte de Nasserismo tropical que tanto daño nos ha hecho (a nosotros, porque ellos han pasado décadas enriqueciéndose disfrazados de guerreros y ensayando desfiles con armas inútiles que nunca han servido para nada)

    En fin, ojala no se les acaben las ideas porque los que no estamos allí necesitamos saber qué es lo que está pasando. No vayamos a acostumbrarnos nosotros también y pensar que todo es normal

    • Son cientos de millones de personas alrededor del mundo los que tienen problemas, en muchos casos más graves que los que por desgracia sufren ahora buena parte de la población venezolana. Todos ellos se merecen nuestra solidaridad y nuestra atención pero es fácil entender por qué no ocurre. Es normal entonces que Venezuela sea ignorada por prácticamente todo el mundo.

      Comparto sus buenos deseos de modernidad para el país pero si todo fuese tan fácil Venezuela no estaría como está. El sentido pragmático anglosajón o el espíritu calvinista nunca prosperó en el caribe y no tiene pinta de que lo consiga en las próximas décadas, probablemente siglos. El perfil sociológico del venezolano medio es el que es y no veo a nadie dispuesto a convertirse en un hipotético vendelondoner que mantenga y disfrute lo mejor de los dos mundos.

  3. Curious, ..as stale as reporting on the same facts ..over and over……what about the ruling party headlines ?
    I rarely look at rojito headlines…preposterous, im sure…but how does the Pueblo swallow that?…..
    I assume the poorest have survival skills the rest of Venezuela society has forgotten or don’t need,until now…you have to wonder when even that population of people throw their hands in the air….

    • Unfortunately, that “spark” was an actual desperate person immolating himself. Could we please have a spark that is a more metaphorical and less littoral.

  4. Yes, where is the spark? And what about any response to the efforts by Falcon & company that are reportedly touring the US and UK? How is that different that the current opposition’s efforts?

  5. … foreign journalists in Venezuela are under constant pressure to find new ways to say the same thing…

    Actually BDSalaM is all it takes.
    [bondage dominance sadism a la Maduro

      • 4-Hour blackouts every two days (Actually, two 2-hour blackouts, at 9:30 am and 3:30 pm), and 2-Hour blackouts in the every other two days between.

        You know, the “charge redirecting” policy.

        • Ulamog,

          You missed the irony. Emiliana was commenting on your use of the word “policies” to describe what are actually sporadic and unthinking knee-jerk reactions.

  6. And Maduro like Chavez keeps saying there is a complot and an economic war against Venezuela to justify the reality that the people face every day.

    It’s a boiling cauldron going down a bottomless pit and everytime we think it can’t get any worse… it gets worse.

    • “…saying there is a complot…”

      Because blaming someone else is how the communism (Won’t blame all the left, only those who support commies) has survived in politics since its creation, that way they keep the image that they are immaculate saints devoid of any guilt nor responsibility, as having to answer for their crimes would completely destroy them as a political current.

  7. As much as one would like a different, more efficient, focused character, history has shown us that venezuelans have a distinct and very specific personality. And no matter what the difficulties and hardships he has to undergo, the criollo will undoubtedly react in the same way: jovial, antiparabolico, chistoso, and ” ese no es mi peo”. It’s what makes us so charming. And it’s what saves us from ourselves.

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