Original art by @modográfico

The video is jaw-dropping: a group of men surrounds a cow in what looks like a typical Venezuelan finca (farm). They’re carrying sticks and they throw rocks at the animal.

You know where it’s going and you can’t bear it. No need to keep watching. You press stop. As someone shouts in the background, this is what hunger looks like in Venezuela.

Hours later, reports of over 40 animals killed this way at a long-expropriated farm lit Venezuelan social media. Looters ravaged them for their meat in Palmarito, a small town in Mérida state, far from the mountains and in the middle of the Panamerican highway.

Sweat on the palm of my hands and my heart pounding on my ears as I scroll down through @leoperiodista (a renowned local journalist). A few minutes later, the video spreads like a stomach bug through my WhatsApp groups.

My building’s chat is the first.

THIS COUNTRY IS DOOMED.”

“ESTO SE LO LLEVÓ QUIEN LO TRAJO.”

A few minutes later, news reach the Caracas Chronicles chat, recently turned into our virtual support group.

Did you see the poor little cow video?”  Alejandro asked.

I can live a perfectly nice life without seeing that,” answered Javier, the common stance.

“That’s simply savage,” my girlfriend Astrid replied. “You can be as hungry as you want but why kill that cow like that?”

It was 5:00 p.m. on a beautiful Thursday afternoon and we were trapped in a hobbesian discussion on how our current crisis is tearing down all traces of civilised society still remaining this far.

This is how Venezuela takes over your life.

After the cow video went viral, reports of widespread looting in Merida’s Panamerican Highway piled up on Twitter. By 9:00 p.m., four people, including an empanada street vendor, had been shot dead, most while trying to breach into stores and some Polar trucks in the towns of El Pinar, Arapuey and Tucaní.

The phone rings. It’s Astrid:

“I don’t think I’m ever going out again.”

“Why?” I reply.

She pauses.

“I’m scared. I can’t even have coffee at the panadería anymore, it’s too expensive.”

I felt a punch in my stomach; there’s nothing she enjoys more than coffee.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “It’ll be fine. I’ll buy you coffee next time.”

She takes a long breath and I can see her face when I close my eyes.

“I’m worried. I should’ve bought more milk the other day, It was dumb of me to not know it would get more expensive. Now I’m not paying that much for milk.”

I get it. She’ll see prices twice times higher than two days before, and then she’ll feel guilty for not buying when she could. What can you say to that? How do I make her feel better?

Long gone are the days I could escape the shitshow and try to live a normal life. Now, fear has taken over every corner of my mind. It’s haunting. There’s an unspoken agreement not to disclose it, to spare the heartbreak, but it’s there. In my head, in the thoughts that pop over and over again.

I check my phone one last time before bed.

“My dear neighbors, good news: the garbage was finally taken away,” I read in the condo chat. “Not all of it. Maduro is still at Miraflores,” a doña replies. Some other neighbors post nutritional advice on how to meet your daily requirements of protein without eating chicken or meat.

Just before falling asleep, I tell Astrid we’ll be fine.

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Juan .. the piece ( What suffering means ) you wrote about the night you spent working at the children’s hospital in Merida was the most heartbreaking story I have read in a long time. This DIY butchering/ theft is quite understandable if your children are dying of hunger. Even cannibalism would not be that surprising What a bloody disaster.

  2. A customer told us this morning that he woke up to find his bull stabbed something on the order of 15 times. Looks like the animal will survive fortunately.

    This is offically a shithole.

  3. “Long gone are the days I could escape the shitshow and try to live a normal life”.

    The problem is that these shitshows, atrocities, pilferage, scarcity, poverty, even hunger are becoming “normal” in Cubazuela. That’s the Castro-Chavista objective.

    But it takes an entire generation for people to get used to it. Coming from a relatively prosperous Venezuela where everything was plentiful, somewhat democratic, open and competitive. Takes time, but the complete Cubanization of Kleptozuela is a long process that is now in its final phases. It’s right on target. People are getting used to the mess, the shitshow has become normal for most clueless, under-educated people left.

    The Cubanization process was classic: Destroy most private property, Corrupt all levels of Government and the Military, make people dependent, complicit, and often corrupt themselves, at all levels, and expel everyone else, to the tune of 4 Million exiles by now. These 4 million people start sending huge amounts, millions of $$ and Euros back, no need to feed them or repress them anymore. Perfect. Also control the media, use some force and repression to instill fear when necessary, blame foreign evil forces for everything… In time, about 30 years or 1 generation, young, ignorant people born in that mess, who have not seen anything else in their short lives or studied in decent schools, get used to it. The shitshow becomes their normal lives…they are part of it, protagonists, complicit, totally dependent, fearful, blind, Cuban style.

    It would be great if many more people continued to see Kleptozuela’s awful mess as abnormal, as the educated author of this post still does. But they don’t or soon won’t. They are clueless, misinformed, brainwashed, incredibly ignorant, unlike Juan Carlos and few others left. Many were born in the mess.

    The entire process of Cubanization is still painful in it’s final phase, but there’s little fight left in the people. No more protests, not much pataleo. What you now see is massive resignation, people gave up, Cubazuela is almost entirely normal to them by now. In a few more years, after they steal this year’s presidential elections again, after they accept some international help and more ‘remesa’ dollars, the shitshow will seem even more normal and, as in Cuba, the will be less scarcicity, a bit less crime, a bit more medicines, more harina pan.. The pueblo-people will be totally immersed in countless Guisos and bogus ministries over 5 Million of them in corrupt ‘alcaldias’ or popular gigs, or just dirt poor, tamed, resigned, having given up, as in Cuba.

    Heck, for most people left the shitshow already is normal.

    Unfortunately, instead of things getting much worse, I suspect they will start to get a little better for reasons outlined before (oil riches, increasing $$ remesas from 4 Million exiles, foreign humanitarian help, better food distribution and health care..). Kleptozuela will soon be as “normal” and accepted as Cuba is today. More stable. Unless some major Coup de Force intervenes, get used to it, if you aren’t already.

    • Comment regarding “remesas – Money transfers from abroad” reposted from another comment section:

      Not true that money from Remesas is being sent to Venezuela, what happens is that this Remesas money ($ usually) is transferred from one account outside Venezuela to another account outside of Venezuela, and the person who has the account that receives the $, sends Bolivars (Bs.) to the person who send the $, at an agreed exchange rate, this happens inside Venezuela, so it really is a transfer of Bs. inside Venezuela.

      The problem is that with a Bolivar devaluating so quickly it is taking larger and larger amounts of Bolivars for each $ sold, and thus a huge amount of money (in Bs.) is getting more and more difficult to source (and move). There is currently a daily limit of 20.000.000 Bs per day in some banks (a little more than $110,00) so it is not an efficient way of receiving money, although bolivars generated by an outside transfer of $110 can help a family survive for 1 – 2 weeks….

      • Moses – this is exactly what I have been told by my Ex-Pat Venezuelan colleague (in the US) trying to support her parents in VE through a network (on What’s App) of folks who provide Bs in VE in exchange for USD in an account with US bank.

        But, I thought that the in-country transfer of Bs happens electronically, so should not be a problem to transfer more than 20000 Bs; the problem is the recipient can only extract that much in cash per day, and then only if they have all day to do that.

        Rampant inflation, yet scarce cash. Within a few months when it is 1M Bsf to the $USD, then what happens? Will there magically be a big delivery of $1M B notes or coins? Do the notes themselves cost more than $1 USD each to make?

      • Hold the presses: Maduro just announced that Venezuelans abroad can send “Remesas” to their family members by bidding through the DICOM system (google translation):

        “The new DICOM has already entered into operation, any Venezuelan can bid or sue in an auction system, and I am giving assurance to all Venezuelan people, who send remittances from abroad, so they can open their bank accounts in public banking. national with the remittance and be able to participate as a bidder in the new DICOM, “said the National President in joint radio and television transmission from the headquarters of the National Constituent Assembly.

        “All the people who are sending remittances, we have to go to the capture of that, to the support of that, with much dynamism, for anyone who lives abroad and wants to send 300 $ to their family, have the system, through of the bank, a bank account, and that bank account can function directly from the Dicom offer system and support his family, as it happens in all countries of the world, “he added.”

        https://www.aporrea.org/economia/n319712.html

        A reverse auction for Bs? I assume this is so the insiders can skim a bunch of undervalued USD that family members send. After all, the WhatApp method leaves the government without a cut.

      • Of course they gladly allow “Remesas” and every single dollar or euro anyone wants to send back to Kleptozuela!

        The more, the merrier. Surely, they will try to steal or “tax” as much as they can. That’s what any Kleptocracy will do. That’s how Cuba has survived for 6 decades. That’s what will help to stabilize Cubazuela in year to come.

        Just ask any average pueblo-person anywhere how many of his/her family members left the country, and how many have been receiving $$ one way or another for quite a while. How do you you think they survive with ridiculous “minimum salaries” without stealing too much themselves in multiple Guisos?

        At any cost, sacrificing themselves, this immense, growing exiled population will do anything it takes to help their desperate family members back home, as any sense of decency dictates. This Remesas trend will only increase every year, as the growing number of exiles, 4 Million by now, start to make more money overseas, sending back more to Kleptozuela as conditions continue to deteriorate. And the Chavista thugs? Utterly Delighted about the generous remesas!.. It’s a win-win situation for them. 4 million rebellious people less to feed or worry, more money to steal in various ways. Cuban-style, even Mexican or Central-American style.. Billions of $$ are sent back home to miserable Latin-American countries that are better off nowadays than Cubazuela. The next step in the full Cubanization of Kleptozuela process is to revive the Tourism industry with more policing, more repression to lower crime. That would bring even more foreign $$, which is exactly what Castro-Chavismo loves.

    • It’s an interesting way of looking at it. That things will get slightly better to make it “tolerable” for decades.

      But I think you’re wrong, and not taking into account the massive economic collapse that’s right around the corner.

      Remittances from the diaspora ain’t gonna fix that.

  4. “THIS COUNTRY IS DOOMED.”

    And…. (rhetorical questions follow) what is your countrymen doing about it?

    Are they waiting for the Gringos to swoop in and save you from the mess that YOUR OWN COUNTRYMEN CREATED? Because that is EXACTLY what Maduro would LOVE to see happen… it would absolve him of the personal responsibility of the disaster that is Venezuela.

    FFS, will SOMEBODY in Venezuela step up besides Perez and do something? He made the tragic mistake of thinking he could be the spark that started something more than just him… instead the tiny flame burned out when Venezuela sat on their collective hands.

    I think the United States ought to create a statue for this guy. The first Venezuelan with BALLS in 100 years.

    • My God:

      I would be applauding you right now, except VENEZUELA should erect that statue. Can you believe this?

      He didn’t harm any of the guys when doing the arms robbery, didn’t harm anyone with the helicopter stunt, and they killed him anyway.

      Fucking bastards. And poor Oscar, who actually thought his people were worth dying for.

      It gives me the creeps. Very unsettling.

  5. But no ammount of crisis keeps those barrio people away from producing MORE kids. And Venezuela teen pregnancy stats keep gping steadily up!

  6. Looks like the DT exchange rate will pop 200000 Bs to 1 USD any minute now (is at 191200). At this rate, will be 400000 by end of Feb, and 800000 by Easter.

  7. Even the “National Socialist Tide Operations Team” admits this entire revolution has been one big rip-off (google translation):

    “Economic Collapse, Political Outcome and Resistance Against Hunger

    In December 2017, the inflationary dynamic marked a new breakthrough moment. Since then, there has been a real leap in the economic crisis that is pulverizing the standard of living of ordinary Venezuelans and liquidating the little productive structure that remains in the country. The hyperinflationary acceleration disorganizes the whole economy at a dizzying speed, reduces consumption to levels of chronic hunger, breaks down the little existing production and destroys the distribution and credit channels. At the base of this collapse is the dismantling, or rather, the looting of PDVSA, which was the lever with which to face the crisis, as well as the scandalous Embezzlement of the Nation.that consumed 40% of the total foreign currency income of the last 18 years. This situation raises the possibility of an imminent economic collapse.”

    https://www.aporrea.org/actualidad/n319734.html

    • mareo socialista is now full of chavista rejects that are angry because they were left off the plundering, but that were all too happy to be collaborators for the regime as long as they could put their greedy paws on the public funds.

      mareo socialista (socialist sickness) is what chavismo will become if they lose power: A bunch of whiny losers that won’t get more than 1% of vote in any election forever and ever.

  8. Tell your friend that her fear is in part well founded: Her savings will get dilluted in the regime-driven hyperinflation as part of the cubanization of Venezuela.

    Also tell her that she will have to be afraid too from the eventual movements of people that oppose the regime that will become violent in the very near future.

    And I’m not talking about “throw stones violent”

  9. It is time to take that Essequibo map off of your Venezuela. Essequibo surely does not want to be part of the mierda that is now Venezuela.

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