Translated by Javier Liendo
Each new day chavismo remains in power, the country sinks deeper and deeper. Because there’s no rock-bottom: countries are bottomless. Seriously. Two years ago everything seemed like shit to you, but you never heard anyone talk about people searching through the garbage for food. Now, they not only search, they get into fights for the spoils. And perhaps tomorrow they’ll gamble for it or the government will fine anyone who throws something away… anything is imaginable.
Nobody talks about looting, lynchings or dismemberments anymore, not because that all stopped happening, but because they’re just part of the landscape now.
They say this is a conspiracy of businessmen and retailers, but I’ve never known a single businessman who makes money by not selling things.
A body simply dies, but countries don’t go through that exactly, so the situation gets worse and worse. I could give you a bunch of indicators to prove it, but I’ll just use two: the highest inflation on earth for the fifth year straight and the lowest productivity of our recent history. The centralized economy and restrictions chavismo created to open up opportunities for corruption are to blame for this. They say this is a conspiracy of businessmen and retailers, but I’ve never known a single businessman who makes money by not selling things.
It’s childish to think that, in such a context, there are opposition leaders who want to be in power, just not now “to avoid the costs,” because the costs will only increase. This country can’t pay its debts, so the sooner a new government comes and those debts are renegotiated, the better for all of us. This country can’t feed its population, and that capacity will deteriorate even more, so the sooner the productive model, centralized economy and the corrupt games around foreign exchange, price and distribution controls are scrapped, the less costly taking the reins will result.
It’s not true that the opposition is thinking in terms of “better later”. Not even those who aspire to a governorship or mayorship, because winning those and ending up without a minimally adequate budget is exactly as pointless as opposing the regime indefinitely.
So I don’t support that accusation.
On the other hand, we absolutely do need certain conditions, such as recovering some institutions, and that will take time. In other words, some guarantees that the next government will honor. Because if a group of narcos, kleptocrats and torturers behave this way when they’re in power, just imagine them in opposition with all their stolen money. That’s why getting some change in the CNE is relevant. Why increasing the costs for the Armed Forces or the TSJ could prove useful. Why solving the issue of the AN’s contempt could work. But there are no guarantees. You know it; I know it. We don’t have a handbook on how to ride out a dictatorship.
So they’re doing the easy thing: attacking or blaming one another, because as soon as you pit them against the government, they start to stumble.
Now, our challenge is how to get to power more quickly. That’s why plans are discussed and disagreements arise. The thing that baffles me is how lost most people are, including those who speak vehemently, because even their “fool-proof plans” fall apart the second you put the least bit of analytical pressure on them.
So they’re doing the easy thing: attacking or blaming one another, because as soon as you pit them against the government, they start to stumble. Marchers might arrive to their rallying points, but they’ll have no clue of what to do next. Protesters may manage to squeeze past a first police blockade, but they won’t know what to do faced with the second one. Disobedience sounds rebellious, but then it fails to materialize. And the opposition majority is circumstantial: most people support you if things are peaceful. If not, they turn their backs and leave, because bullets are a certainty and people know their lives are worth more than the pranes’ lives.
That’s why, curiously, the ones who are doing something of actual value are precisely those who went all in on the dialogue, risking everything and in the face of insults. They’re there without knowing what comes after this, negotiating with kidnappers, even accepting to mimic their language although they’re scorned for it by the malcontents.
But even more curiously, you can’t go about without malcontents, because you actually need them more than ever. Because dialogue is nothing in itself. Because people don’t want to stop putting forward their demands. Because other countries would like to help but don’t understand how, since there are costs for them as well. Because each day is worse than the day before, we stand it a bit less each day, and wasting time is losing what life could be and totalitarianism has denied us.
We’d love to have simple concerns. We’d love to get a little bored once in awhile. We’d love some certainty other than knowing that tomorrow will be worse. For a change.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.