Merry Christmas! ¡Feliz Chavidad!

This has been quite the Christmas weekend. Driving through Caracas on December 24th, I got this horrible, Nazi-like feeling, when all I could see were endless lines outside of stores and countless military personnel everywhere. It looked more like a war movie than a Christmas one.

The Biggest Losers

And I wonder, is this not exactly looting, only militarily organized?

And of course, the biggest losers this Christmas have been the Venezuelan people as a whole. But also, more specifically, clothes maker EPK and toymaker Kreisel. The first was forced to slash their prices far below any semblance of a profit margin, militarized, and virtually assaulted by a sea of desperate shoppers. And I wonder, is this not exactly looting, only militarily organized?

The latter, Kreisel, was more directly robbed, as they were expropriated of loads of toys which were then supposed to be handed out by Corpomiranda, a feat which is yet to be executed.

Christmas Wish List

Some Venezuelans took the opportunity to express their wishes publicly. Such is the case of Lilian Tintori who, understandably, wished for the liberation of her husband, as well as for freedom for all Venezuelans.

María Corina Machado, on the other hand, told us what she thinks we all want, which is to see “tenacity and courage” in political leadership to go out on the streets again and fight the dictatorship. She ends her interview with La Patilla saying “the time has come”.

The rest of the world has joined into the Venezuelan Christmas Wishes. Approximately 18.000 mayors around the globe, including such cities as Paris and New York, have expressed their wish for the liberation of Antonio Ledezma, one of the most absurd political prisoners. I somehow get the feeling that Chavismo won’t be persuaded.

Finally, Pope Francis has asked us all for “courage” in “ending tensions”. Thank God for the separation of Church and State.

Lean Christmas

El Pitazo did an amazingly depressing job with an infographic of how our traditional dishes’ prices have skyrocketed

And it wouldn’t be a real Chavidad without some outbreak of horrible news like, for example, 4 prisoners escaping from 26 de julio in San Juan de Los Morros. Two ultimately escaped, while one handed himself in and one was caught. Well, that’s two more coming home for Christmas, I suppose.

But perhaps the most widespread of horrors concerns Christmas dinners. Or just meals in general. El Pitazo did an amazingly depressing job with an infographic of how our traditional dishes’ prices have skyrocketed. On some items, the difference is upwards of 5000%. The vast majority of Venezuelans have no way to afford them. And, in case you were wondering, of course the Special-Christmas-Edition-CLAP-Bags have not made it to anyone’s homes.

Meanwhile, our government remains either silent or delusional. I don’t dare watch VTV these days, for fear of projectile vomiting. But Delcy Rodríguez did speak up to offer her condolences to Vladimir Putin and the Russian people for the recent plane crash. Sure, that’s her job, but can you think of no one else in need of condolences? Anyone?

Some Merriness

Ron David Álvarez, violinist and educator, has been nominated to the Global Teacher Award for his work teaching music to orphan and refugee children in Greenland and Sweden

All is not -quite yet- lost. Sure, this is an endless stream of bad news, but I just see it as long-term resiliency training. I keep my good humour. But to leave just one little Christmas present, at least we have that Ron David Álvarez, violinist and educator, has been nominated to the Global Teacher Award for his work teaching music to orphan and refugee children in Greenland and Sweden. It’s amazingly beautiful work.

All that’s left to say is, again, Merry Christmas!

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