It’s different when it happens in your neighborhood

Our very own Emiliana Duarte takes to The New York Times to explain what it's like when the crisis arrives on your doorstep.

28

On her maiden voyage on H.M.S. Grey Lady, Emi powerfully brings home what it feels like when the crisis stops being an abstraction, stops being about numbers and percentages and statistics and concepts, and turns up on your doorstep:

There is a milk vendor who delivers to restaurants in my neighborhood. When he has leftover milk, he sells it from his parked truck to a gloomy congregation of elderly neighbors, who begin to line up while it’s still dark out. These days, the truck shows up less often. The sad scene ends with frail customers walking away empty-handed after hours of waiting. I’m able to identify them by their solemn retreat and their tears of anger.

Recently, a woman who works at a nearby beauty parlor decided to start her commute earlier than usual to join the line in hopes of finding milk. As per the government-mandated schedule, her turn to shop for basic goods is every Friday. She gave up on her weekly trips to the local supermarket, not only because she has to work on Fridays, but also because she is terrified of being held at gunpoint by the robbers who wait to pounce on shoppers if they emerge with anything inside their grocery bags. Her 8-month-old granddaughter hasn’t had formula in months, she told me. She worries about the breast milk her mother feeds her, since she has only bread and noodle soup to eat.

Our mayor recently noted that stray dogs had all but disappeared from our neighborhood, and people are hunting pigeons in the main square.

It’s gripping stuff. And I’d say so even if she wasn’t my Managing Editor…

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.

28 COMMENTS

  1. A fact about all writing: When you put a face on it, and the story is a first-person narrative, it become alive and personal, and is always more powerful than a load of facts and erudite social commentary. It brings it all home, close to the bone. Nice job, E.D.

  2. Good on Emiliana for clearly conveying what Venezuela has become. Seems like PSFs are finally opening their eyes. It only took a country ending in complete ruins for the thick bastards to get it.

    Another good read in the Guardian:
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/22/radical-leftwing-tourists-pimps-dictatorship-hugo-chavez-venezuela-sex-tourism?CMP=oth_b-aplnews_d-3

    I find the comparison to sex tourism very accurate.

    PS. By the way Quico, a kiwi friend sent me this interview you did with NZ public radio. Great job, man.
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/201801556

    • “Radical tourism is no different from sex tourism. In both the political and the coital, the inhabitants of the rich world go to the poor to find the thrills no one will give them at home.”

      Ouch, what a great, visceral comparison!

  3. Emiliana always delivers illuminating work. This is a good example of her skill. Congratulations to her, once again.

  4. Well done, Emi!

    Unfortunately there are still media that, under the guise of balanced reporting, churn out mixed messages, offering a lifesaver to the gullible who firmly believe in their ‘revolution’. Talkin’ ’bout an audio clip after a brief report on the situation in Venezuela, during the local 5 o’clock news on CBC-Radio One, May 20, 2016. Interviewed were two Vennies living in Canada: Rebecca Sarfatti (originally from Curaçao) and Ma Páez Victor, Boliburgeois Sociology PhD, now reinvented/repositioned for the Ontario legal community. (*)

    Sarfatti explained how the marches against the government went by her mom’s house, in Caracas, and noted, among other difficulties, how finding one (1) egg is like receiving a wedding present.

    As a counterweight, MPV chimed in, briefly, piping up that “If Venezuelans want a socialism, let them have it!”. But note her girth from her chipmunk cheeks. They’ve expanded over the years, showing a comfortable existence in Canada. Not for MPV the destruction of a society under so-called “socialism” in her once native Venezuela.

    (*)
    MPV used to head up, perhaps still, a Bolivarian Circle in Toronto. She always lectures to the lefty community, and has flatly denied the existence of political prisoners, the wonders of Chávez, and evidently, now Maduro.

    • * has flatly denied the existence of political prisoners, while promoting the wonders of Chávez, and evidently, now Maduro.

    • Mixed messages about chavismo on the CBC, really?! I’m gobsmacked. Most of the journalism school interns charged with writing copy for The Mother Corporation these days couldn’t get a story right, of any kind, if the antagonist and the protagonist sat down together and wrote it for them.

  5. With a 1969 Venezuelan university degree the likelihood is great that Maria adopted the visionary leftist delusions of her time , then going abroad she had to glamorize her chunky self by exploiting her venezuelan origins and revolutionary ideals playing to the hilt the role of the progressive spirit fighting for the redemption of the downtrodded exploited masses of her homeland something that lefty canadian’ pendejos sin fronteras’ are bound to have lapped up if only to hype up their goody goody progressive credentials !! …….The lady is not interested in the facts she is interested only in nursing her narcicism like so many that find in their professing of lofty leftist ideals a big boost to their otherwise common and mediochre personal
    identity.!!

    • Bang on, BB, as usual. Years after her lic. from la Católica, MPV found her niche while *working* towards a PhD from York Univ., its liberal arts faculty long known to espouse lefty-lefty pap.

    • playing to the hilt the role of the progressive spirit fighting for the redemption of the downtrodded exploited masses of her homeland something that lefty canadian’ pendejos sin fronteras’ are bound to have lapped up if only to hype up their goody goody progressive credentials !!

      re canadian ‘pendejos sin fronteras’, or fools without borders — and these can extend to other nationalities … keep in mind that the act of hyping up, or secretly bolstering goody-goody progressive credentials, is not nearly as important as wanting to maintain the status quo of a failed state in order to keep enjoying cheap holidays to budget resorts that pamper, especially in the dead of winter. Never mind the police state, nor the abuses of human rights, nor the marginal existence of all, including those with professional designations. There’s no skin off the backs of these tourists, so long as they get a cheap holiday among their bros, and/or perhaps get to exercise their messiah complex by taking with them (used) clothing to distribute…. All is good where one can combine the illusion of goodness with plenty of surf and meals-prepared-by-others-served-with-a-smile. What is even more galling are the charms spun by those under the delusion that they can go anywhere in Cuba without issue — why haven’t they visited the political prisoners in Cuban jails?

    • As a two-fer, a woman and a Latina, she would have a good possibility at getting a faculty position in the US.

  6. Well done Emi! I usually don’t click over to the NYT much, since i’m not a subscriber, but when i saw who the author was, I had to.

    Way to put a face to the statistics, makes it all the more relatable to the readers. Although, it seemed a little strange without at least one mild “expressive expletive”. 🙂

  7. This is a tough crowd … going so hard on poor Maria just because she carries a little extra chicherone.

    But to the point, elevating the poor is a nobel and essentially human aim. The problem is it takes a long time and is accomplished through education, institutions and enlghtened policy. moreover, there initially is no money to be made in the effort. It’s investing in the future, so if it happens at all the fat cats feel done out of something, and the projects get shunted to the back burner – at least in staunch capitalist countries.

    And so people go for the quick fix, which is far more costly and never seems to work. Handouts, paternal favoritism, all the shenanigans of popularism which is not so much about the poor but getting their backing to remain in power – and rico pues.

    Chavez’s play was far worse than merely Robin Hooding the whole process, taking from the rich and giving some little bit to the poor. His loathing for the privileges was so great he tried to elevate the bottom by pulling down and destroying the top. And never could anyone design a better strategy for national destruction. Now that bus drivers finally have the wheel, the fear and resentment of going back to where they came from – and losing the helm to the ones they hate – burns so hot that Maduro is essentially saying “If I have to go, you all have to die.”

    Rather then elevating the poor, Chavismo has simply fanned their resentment, as as the lifeline of imports trickles to a stop, few have much of anything at all, creating a vicious power vacuum. A nation-wide paralyses.

    If the Democratic Charter issue it enforced, an embargo on Venezuela oil is not unimaginable. There there’s nothing at all…

    • the issue regarding chipmunk-cheeks María is not her expanding girth, per se, but her hypocrisy, JL. That is, when Venezuelans are now going hungry due to the long-term policies and corruption from a government that Maria not only supports but has and continues to promote — while living ABROAD.

      As for your comment regarding Chávez’s loathing for the privileges … make no mistake: he had absolutely no loathing for privileges, as he donned Savile Row suits, when he wasn’t wearing fatigues to add an exclamation mark to his publicly announced threats. He had absolutely no loathing for his Vacheron Constantin watch(es), nor for his custom gold-plated airbus interiors which took him around the world in the utmost comfort. The list goes on and on. For a better synopsis on what motivated Chávez, I urge you to read the best diagnostic on the matter: Bill Bass’s treatise on narcissism.

      • Money, dude, what compelled that lowborn was just greed for filthy dollars, not in vain his family is the richest in the continent.

  8. Sorry Syd, that was a typo. Always responding to this thread on my phone. It should have read: The Privileged. The ones who had it all – all the clout and power and prestige. And yes, Chavez, and I hear his daughter as well, absolutely reveled in it.

    Any synopsis on Narcissistic Personality Disorder will tell the Chavez story, or the story of any genuine dictator. Will have to read Guillermo’s soon.

  9. Please export the revolution to Hollywood so the rich communist traitors can experience socialist chaos without leaving the comfort of their mansions.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here