The alarm goes off at 6 am, every morning. This time of year, the Santiago chill makes a convincing case to not to get out of bed. As I mentally scan the morning’s routine, I can’t help but go on Twitter. Harrowing stories start popping up -before my shower, before breakfast, before coffee- and I begin the daily struggle of keeping Venezuela out of my mind, and my heart.

It’s a losing battle.

The routine begins. Dog food is in its plate. Coffee is being brewed. Morning news -Chileans talk about how it’s going to rain today, or about muggers holding up an occasional drug store. That’s how bad it gets.

“Man,” I say to myself, “país sin problemas.” I think of the latest lynching back home.

Showers. Pony-tails. Small talk over breakfast. I walk the girls to school. The snow-capped Andes  look lovely. I think about my morning, lost in my thoughts. La-dee-da.

Then, a mom stops me.

“I saw the most terrible news about Venezuela last night! What’s going to happen?”

Five minutes of “it’s all terrible,” “my family is OK, but struggling,” “anything could happen politically,” and I’m off. It’s become my stump speech.

But I’m not really off. As much as I try, I can’t compartmentalize. A routine day has all of the sudden became invaded by thoughts of home -I wonder if people had breakfast. I wonder if somebody was shot walking their kids to school, just like I am doing now.

My heart is full of lead, weighed down by an inability to put Venezuela behind me.

Every day, this scene repeats itself five, six times. Whether it is in a work meeting, a comment by a student in the hallway, or a call from a friend, people’s questions are always the same: “how horrible, what is going to happen?” The other day I started talking to a panhandler. He asked me where I was from. “Venezuela? Sheesh, things there are baaaad…” He gives me his pity look.

My reaction is the same. When I talk about it, it’s the half-an-hour of lingering emotional resaca that gets me.

I am grateful people are concerned, but I can’t help feel a bit jealous. They go on with their lives. They don’t feel guilty every time they go to the supermarket. They don’t have to spend hundreds of thousands of pesos buying medicine for loved ones to send home. They don’t spend hours and hours away from their family writing about Venezuela’s crisis.

We’re lucky. We’re not living through this crisis directly. But in a tiny way, we are.

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  1. Here in Atlanta I have a a few coworkers that will come by with their coffee for their daily Venezuela briefing. They have true concern and amazement on the situation, something of your daily horror story.

    Famiy life, safe as it is for us, is weighed down by the difficulties family in Venezuela report. Even far away from the tragedy, Chavismo hijacks your emotions. El cono de su madre!

  2. Nicely written. This piece resonates with me in many ways. I have personally made the conscious choice to not let the chasm in which Venezuela has fallen consume me. I am still in disbelief that things have gotten to this point but have a certainty that very soon this nightmare will be over. I will seriously consider returning to my beloved country once my safety is not in absurd jeopardy.

  3. In my communications with my family, I face a dilemma. Do I tell them the unvarnished truth of what is happening here? Or, do I water it down, so they won’t worry about me so much? On one side, I want the world outside to know the truth… all of it (the good, the bad, and the ugly). But, I don’t want my family to worry about me, when there is nothing they can do about it anyway. How do I balance this? How do others do it?

  4. True, in other countries, we think about Vzla’s mess quite a bit. We still have a few friends or family calandosela there.

    But after 25 years in Miami, or Chile, you don’t really sweat it that much. Everyone who could, got the hell outta there long ago. As most readers and writers of these blogs. As about 1.5 Million of the best educated professionals, a scarce commodity in the third world. Gone. That massive brain-drain does not help at all. The people left in charge of the government, of private and public companies, are vastly under-educated, and mostly corrupt. Thieves, everywhere, including “el pueblo” in many ways. Not all, but many.

    Time flies, and we start worrying about our own country, Venezuela fades away. Plus in some sense, they do deserve what they got, being Chavistas, and participating in the Guisos and corruption everywhere. Not all, but many.

  5. Does anyone know of a remotely feasible way to ship a box of Ensure powder, vitamins, and thyroid meds to family in Valencia from Canada? My mother-in-law’s ongoing health issues are being compounded with malnutrition. We’d love to bring some down there and visit, but you know…

    We feel like so many others abroad, impotent to ease their suffering.

    I’ve heard such shipments rarely get through to the recipients. Any tips?


    • Try the following company; Interconnection Trading Cargo Inc. They are Toronto based and ship every Friday to Venezuela with connection to interior cities using Aerocav (I believe). We have used them to ship care packages from Toronto to Caracas, Cumana and Barcelona. So far we haven’t had problems but have only been sending for the last 4 months but they were recommended by others here in Toronto who have used them for Pto Cabello, Valencia and Maracaibo.

      • With Liberty Express, the recipient pays the delivery and customs fees when they pick up the items. Maybe there is a way to pay on the other end. You would have to ask. Look for the Liberty Express Office in Miami, and call them for what options they can offer.

    • I recently sent a shipment of food and personal items via Alfa Shipping (a door to door service based in Miami) and the boxes got there no problem. They also help with buying medicines from pharmacies in Miami when you don’t have a US or Canada prescription and delivering in Venezuela. It gets expensive but given the options I am willing to pay for it.

  6. Tell me about it JC. I wake up at 4:30 AM US ET to check the overnight news. I scan the news. Yesterday, the New York Times (local paper for me) had a front page story about food riots in Venezuela. Today, NPR did a piece on our mutual home town, Maracaibo (here: and I then I have to prepare to explain, yet again, to my friends and co-workers where we Venezuelans screwed up. At least I can take small amount of pleasure in pointing out “if Trump gets elected, then Venezuelan dystopia” would seem more familiar.

    Oh wait: the NPR piece says:

    Maracaibo used to be a showcase for progress. It sits next to Lake Maracaibo, where Venezuela first struck oil a century ago. Maracaibo built the country’s first bank, movie theater and public lighting system.

    Maybe we can hope for brighter future. Maybe.

  7. Whenever my kids don’t finish their food I think about my little cousins that literally don’t have anything to eat. My life while pretty simple and modest is now in comparison a luxurious one that makes me feel guilty every day 🙁
    The hopeless sense of there is not much I can do to help them ALL out is just consuming.

  8. My God, my friends. Your grandchildren will tell stories about what you went through. I know the future is a poor breakfast, but please, keep breathing, and tell us how we can help.

  9. Sería bueno que si no lo ha hecho se lea el artículo de Leonardo Padrón llamado el otro país y sí lo leyó que escriba sobre él, son muchos los venezolanos que lo leen a Ud. en el exterior y no tienen acceso a ese otro país sino a los terribles titulares de la mayoría de los medios y sí le interesa conocer otras experiencias de reconstrucción lo invito a que sintonice a donde podrá escuchar otras noticias


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