GEHA’s Best of 2017, Part II (May-August)

My second digest of 2017 in Caracas Chronicles goes from the protests in their maximum splendor, to their disgraceful end in August, as daily tragedies continue to play out.

Photo: Gabriel Méndez

to the memory of my grandmother, Teresa (1927-2017)

May to August saw a promise of freedom turn into anarchy and the worst case scenario – consolidation of the dictatorship- blooming into a reality. What’s worse, some political actors took away the wrong lessons from the struggle.


Special Mention: “Colectivo” Responsibility, Alexander Rosemberg.

May begins with a political bombshell: The government decided to use the Constituyente card, and not in the way la bicha originally implied. We discuss what happened in countries that tried that same approach, since Maduro went full Soviet. You never go full Soviet.

The brutal campaign of repression raises all the alarm bells. Can it reach the horrors seen in other nations? Meanwhile, the gesture of a naked man against the might of the State inspires a solid reflection, with some people risking a lot to aid protesters.

But why do repressors obey instead of rebel? How does it feel for a Venezuelan living abroad to watch the events unfold? And how easy is it for the protests to get out of hand and become anarchic savagery?

Morality doesn’t escape our sight, from the abandonment that senior citizens face at home to the ethical cost of Venezuelan debt bonholders who surely finance repression and terror.


Special Mention: The entire Father’s Day Special and our salute to journalists on their day.

The third month of protests begins with more Venezuelans asking for asylum abroad. At the same time, we wonder: should the opposition encourage desertions across security and military forces? After all, police brutality is only increasing.

Then, we take a break to look at the ironic path of the arepa, which is gaining momentum around the world at a slow-but-steady pace while its consumption at home declines.

In the middle of the strife, the Vinotinto pulls the impossible in the FIFA U-20 World Cup and gets to the final. Even if the boys lost to England, the unique experience in South Korea is captured in a first-person account.

It’s easy to blame the 1999 Constitution as the source of our political struggle, but that assertion is not accurate. Then, the death of a protester makes us ask ourselves, “is this what war feels like?” Partly because of that, we tried to understand the mindset of the government’s de facto strategist.

We commemorate Journalists’ Day with the story of how our Managing Editor was saved from detention by a colleague of mine and we end the month with the wonderful arrival of one of our main contributors’ first child.


Special Mention: Whose side is the Clock on, Anyway?, José Ramon Morales & Rodrigo Linares.

The second half of 2017 begins with a history lesson on this most ironic “Independence” day: Venezuelans are not so new to the issue of exile. Coming back to the present, two colleagues faced arrests and had totally different outcomes, and we take a moment to honor the loss of a great historian, father of former Caracas Chronicles editor Juan Nagel.

Protests twisted everyday life in Venezuela, but the usual troubles remain there, growing in horror. Case in point, a trancazo in La Candelaria and a huge electrical overload in Palo Verde.

The second half of July is defined by two political events: The MUD calls for a symbolic referendum on July 16th, and the ANC election on July 30th. Before both events, two Caracas Chronicles editors make a bet over the Constituyente being called off or not. The prize: Two Big Macs.

The MUD’s referendum is a resounding success, against all odds, with hats off to volunteers all over the world, discussed in our inside look at the process deep in Africa.

As synergy between civilian and military factions in the government is called into question with the ANC election, we argue that unión civico-militar is more common than we think. July 30th comes and goes and, after checking the dissonance between CNE numbers and what really happened in the street, we’re sure: They cheated BIG TIME.


Special Mention: Will the last deputy to leave the AN turn off the light?, Emiliana Duarte.

As we get the lowdown on how things went down in El Poliedro election center, our worst fears eternal suspicions are confirmed, there was cheating, admitted by the very same folks who set up the CNE system. That small victory with huge potential is ruined hours later by Henry Ramos Allup and his big ego. Chavismo rubs it in our faces, opposition politicians stop giving a shit.

Meanwhile, recklessness and mediocrity collides: an entire town floods and nobody cares.

The government hunts a popular mayor, but many Venezuelans are not paying much attention, waiting in line for gas cylinders, which are scarcer by the day.

Time to pay up those Big Macs. The bet loser tries to come up with reasons for why he lost.

You know what really grinds my gears? Ideological diehard out-of-towners trying to explain the situation of my country. Alternativefactsland is alive and kicking in the Spanish left.

Meanwhile, an incident with a high-ranking Chavista in Mexico City shows the true level of  and gives us utter satisfaction.

As a shortage of banknotes looms, we end August with a trip to the heart of the black market.