My name isn’t really Pete Sullivan. Before I left for Venezuela, I was advised by other journalists that the government isn’t just giving out the ‘Visa de Negocios’ anymore, shutting out both the foreign press and business people in one fell swoop. Even the expensive services that procure visas for people in Miami are saying it’s a four month wait, and even then it’s “maybe”.
Then, in the days ahead of the 1S La Marcha, journalists with work visas from the Miami Herald, LeMonde and Al Jazeera weren’t allowed in at the airport.
So, I am a tourist telling stories with my iPhone. I wanted to see if the food and health care crisis were as bad as I had read about before coming. It’s worse. My baptism to the food crisis was seeing a food ration line two blocks from my house in Altamira. The hardest hit are the elderly and the children.
I’ve been traveling internationally for 30 years. There’s always that baptism, that ah ha! moment, of “yeah, i’m really here.” In Sarajevo, it was hearing a sniper’s bullet whizz by my head. In Rwanda, it was seeing a family of four decapitated. In Iraq, it was hearing a car bomb a few blocks away.
Here in Caracas, its was seeing Isbelia, a retired professor, walking me through — with humour, mind you — what is basically, a slow torture of the Venezuelan people. I’ve never seen anything like it.
I hope you enjoy my reports.