GEHA’s Best of 2017, Part I (January-April)

To close out the year, here’s the first part of my selection of all the best Caracas Chronicles had to offer. From social inertia to upfront conflict, this is how we opened (and fought through) 2017.

to my grandmother, Teresa (1927-2017)

2017 went out in a flash, but make no mistake: for Venezuelans, it was a lifetime.

To make sense of it all, I made a recap of how Caracas Chronicles portrayed the many issues this country of ours faced during this year, with its very diverse voices and perspectives. But this ain’t your typical Top Ten; in my selection, I hope to convey the pulse and feel of the times.

Hope you all enjoy it, and I wish you a good 2018!


Special Mention: Anabella Abadi’s Pregnant Lady Diaries.

To start the year, we go looking for New Year’s bargains in Caracas while the CLAP program is slowly making inroads inside the heartland.

Then, we make a trip to Cucuta, where many locals don’t share Nicolas Maduro’s bragging about his “popularity” over there, leading us to a first-hand account of a hospital intern and his relationship with a cervical cancer patient.

On the eve of Donald J. Trump inauguration, we offered four pieces of advice about how to handle him, because in some respects, we’ve seen this movie before. And the first press briefing by Sean Spicer confirmed it.

Right now, getting a passport is mission impossible. But right at the start of 2017, it wasn’t much easier either and back then, we met one guy who knew how to get it.

In 2016, a New York Times report showed a harrowing picture of a Venezuelan psychiatric institution. But what if I tell you that not all Venezuelan mental wards are like that?

To end the month, we take a bus ride and try to figure out our political situation, by the way of Star Wars, closing with a review of the unsustainable monster we know as “debt.”


Special Mention: The rest of the #STILLLOVEVZDAY articles.

The shortest month of the year starts with a strike in Guayana over… Christmas iPhones. Okay. Then, a road trip to a wedding is the scenery in which we meet those who have it worse.

An old book gives us great insight about the Venezuela of the 1970s, and a Venezuelan abroad shares how he can’t see packed supermarkets and food choices in the same way again.

But there are still reasons to love Venezuela. One is a wonderful piece of nature in Caracas, another one is… a curse word. But that doesn’t hide how the quality of life is slowly falling apart, with bookstores becoming extinct and the elephant in the room: racism.

A couple of stories that complement each other close out February, the best and worst of us; our United Nations Model is proof of our success and a lousy fake cross-country skier is the opposite.


Special Mention: Bakers Must Work with a Cold Metal Rifle to their Heads, Luis Carlos Díaz.

March starts with an account of how those who aspire to be doctors in Venezuela must go for a stint in the countryside. No ifs ands or buts.

How exactly do you party in one of the most dangerous cities on Earth? By lying to yourself, because before “Alternative Facts” became the rage up north, we already got used to it around here.

Back in the day, a trip to Cucuta was a happy occasion. Now, things have changed completely, and viewer beware: prolonged exposure to Venezuelan State TV could produce mental damage.

Even with full control of civilian courts, the government is relying more and more on the military justice sys, an issue we reported on in March which became a main tool of Humans Rights violations later in the year.

The month ends with a court ruling that changes everything, opening the latest chapter of the Constitutional War that Venezuela has gone through during the last few years.


Special Mention: Venezuela’s Hot April: A Look Back, Anabella Abadi & Carlos García.

While Ruling 156 triggers a huge chaos in the markets, we attempt to figure out the economical and political dynamics that produced such a hot potato in the first place.

And then, the protests.

One direct witness, and the newest addition to our editorial team, shares with us not one, but two dispatches. The thrill, the fear, the madnness. Then there was the egg-throw heard round the world. But the battle isn’t only on the streets; social media is the place where the hegemony tries to suppress news and some are trying to break the censorship with the latest technology. And for the relatives of those arrested during the protests, their lives become hell as well.

An incident during the protests takes place in the Guaire River, a symbol of broken chavista promises.

And now for something completely different: The tale of Arnoldo Gabaldón, the man who defeated malaria in Venezuela, way before the rest of the world, before it came back to haunt us with a vengeance.

To end April, we ponder a simple but direct question: Which social class actually rules Venezuela?