This week, as we’re gearing up for end-of-the-year posts at Caracas Chronicles, I noticed that right around May of 2016, we reached a zenith in what we would eventually coin as Misery Porn: posts that described in lurid detail the spelunking-beyond-rock-bottom that had become life in Venezuela: starvation, dead babies, eating out of trash cans, medicine shortage-stricken cancer patient suicides…We were quickly running out of superlatives with which to qualify the FUBARness of Venezuelan daily struggles.

Things haven’t gotten better since, we’ve just become accustomed to the quotidian tragedy. Leave it to Nick Casey and photographer Meridith Kohut at the New York Times to jolt us out of the Misery Porn Stupor and bitch-slap us back into our appalling and deplorable and unacceptable reality.

He tells the story of Kevin, a Maturin-born high school student who dies on his 16th birthday because he was forced to forage —yes, forage—for food and ate a toxic manioc root. He died hours later, before he could taste the slice of birthday cake his unemployed mother had desperately bartered a neighbor for. Casey does a phenomenal job in painting the heart-wrenching account of a life lost to the economic crisis, and the world of pain that rains upon loved ones. But not before reviewing, one by one, the reports he’s filed on Venezuela since his arrival early this year, as a lead up to this most harrowing of stories. In his words, a summation of “everything that ha[s] gone wrong in Venezuela.”

Venezuela has suffered from so many ailments this year. Inflation has driven office workers to abandon the cities and head to illegal pit mines in the jungle, willing to subject themselves to armed gangs and multiple bouts of malaria for the chance to earn a living.

Doctors have prepared to operate on bloody tables because they did not have enough water to clean them. Psychiatric patients have had to be tied to chairs in mental hospitals because there was no medication left to treat their delusions.

Hunger has driven some people to riot — and others into rickety fishing boats, fleeing Venezuela on reckless journeys by sea.

But it was the story of a boy with no food, who had gone searching for wild roots to eat but ended up poisoning himself instead, that seemed to embody everything that had gone wrong in Venezuela.

How many anonymous Kevins are out there, and how many more have to die before this senseless affront on Venezuelans stops? What more proof is needed of the medievally sadist nature of the Venezuelan government? How many days before some other Dickensian nightmare makes headlines and Kevin’s story is tossed into the growing pile at the landfill of Venezuelan agony tales?

This boy dies this way for no reason at all,” Kevin’s aunt is quoted saying in the piece. Please read it. If for no other reason, so that Kevin’s life may have another few minutes of significance.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Damn. That article with the boat refugees was also a tough read. How many will need to starve to death until they get sick of the thugocracy for real?

  2. Very, very sad. Simply a repeat of the Cuban Communist experience, being successfully copied in Venezuela. For example, a Cuban refugee in Venezuela some 10 years ago, who served frequently as our chauffeur with his taxi, and who soon left for the U. S. with his family, saying presciently that Venezuela was becoming Cuba II, mentioned his aunt going permanently blind at 18, due to optic nerve damage from lack of protein in her diet in Cuba while she was growing up (ergo, Fidel’s much-ballyhooed “Mision Milagro” eye operation bs creation). Unfortunately, I do not see any open mass Pueblo reaction/rejection vs. these Communist “Civico-Militar” Regime injustices/barbarities, and, therefore/so far, do not see any slowing of the process of converting Venezuela into full-fledged Cuba II….

  3. Does sheer popular rage , mass anger and desperation turning to violent street protests tumble gangster dictatorial govts with armed to the teeth militarily organized defenders ………?? Sometimes but not necessarily , people are angry but they usually have a healthy attachment to their hides and dont want to expose themselves to being massacred …….something old and biologically rooted ……but highly motivating !! Most people can shout like heroes but few people actually have the guts to act like heroes……!!

    So we can ask ourselves where is the beef in using our anger to confront the regime that torments us , that ravages our daily lives with gross insults and offenses to both our dignity and livelihood , that want us to pretend that we are stupid believing crazy made up stupid explanations and conspiracy theories !!

    We cant help our anger but how can we use it most effectively to strike back at a regime that torments our lives !! Thats the question we need someone to answer….

    While psychological pressure is important and has been used by Oppo leaders to great effect , can it actually topple an armed to the teeth gangster regime !! is there another of making our anger felt that can rid us of this corrupt abusive blundering regime sitting on our backs..!!

    If someone has an answer we can believe in…please post it….!!

    • The Opposition has been in a position to channel the public’s anger and overthrow the regime for several months now. Yet, every time we have charged up to the brink, the Opposition leaders have stopped short. For some reason, they have been reluctant to take that final step.

      Why is that? Are they afraid of chaos? What is it we have now? Are they afraid of losing control of events? Do they have any control now?

      Personally, I think this is a failure of vision. When I look at the MUD, the division I see is between the older generation represented by Ramos Allup, whose horizons are limited by their age, and the younger generation, epitomized by LL and MCM, et al, whom are more willing to take risks for a better long-term result.

      I fear that, as a result of the MUD’s failure to lead, the final meltdown of the regime and the birth of a popular rebellion will arrive unplanned, unprepared for, and without any midwife to assist in the transition.

  4. When this kind of stories make me sad I like to think in who this people probably voted for, and that some how makes it all better!
    Hint: its happening in Maturin.

  5. Why is it, how is it still reported these stories are due to an economic crisis?

    That is like reporting a death was due to traumatic injury after the victim was runover by a bus, with no mention of the drunk driver at the wheel of the bus.

  6. This is what I don’t get. We are told that we must avoid open conflict and violence at all costs. Yet, Venezuelans are already dying in the tens of thousands as a direct result of this brutal regime’s actions and negligence. Whether a death is from lack of medical care, from random murder, from accidents on deteriorated highways, or from brutal repression, the Venezuelan statistics are worse than in places with ongoing open warfare. Is this the “peace” that we want to preserve?

  7. I think that more or less 90% of the population is certain that Venezuela will keep going straight to hell as long as the regime keeps going forward. So, how come that they keep steamrolling everybody? What is the solution? I am glad you asked…

    First and foremost you have to get rid of all “leaders” that preach that the solution goes through a peaceful democratic process. Because that is BULLSHIT.

    Second, people have to realize that if they do not want to be hopeless, they have to come together and defend themselves as a GROUP. So, for example, next time that the almighty SUNDDE comes to your neighborhood shop, instead of forming a line to FUCK your neighborhood shop, you and your neighbors form a front, take a stand and defend your neighborhood shop and you punish as much as possible the whole comitiva that comes along with the SUNDDE, so they do not come again. And if they try tocome back to revenge their first comitiva, then you gather much more people and you defend the neighborhood shop and the defenders. Because somebody has to do what is right in Venezuela!

    Its very simple, you either come together and stop the nonsense as a group, as a nation or it will continue until you have absolutely nothing and you end up begging for everything you need to survive, just to survive and you better be grateful.

    • Fact: More than half of the adult population still Loves Chavez, many still adore him and venerate him. 80% blame Maduro, who has only been in power a few years, compared to the 14 years Chavez was in control. When, clearly, Chavez is to blame for Venezuela’s debacle.

      Why? How can this be possible, today?

      Draw your own conclusions.

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