Desolation and Fear Reign on Election Day at Gran Misión Vivienda Venezuela

A young mother living in a State’s Housing Program building had to suck it up on election day, afraid of Big Brother’s reprisal for not voting... or was it opportunism?

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Photo: Nueva Sociedad

“On election day,” Gloria says, “I heard some fireworks at four in the morning. After that, everything was calm. Even for a Sunday.”

Most of her neighbors vote at the new center inside her apartment building, opened in one of the many quiet moves by the National Electoral Council. Being inside a condo, voters can be easily pressured, at least in theory: “That day, I heard fireworks really early, some boys playing loud music and, after 15 minutes, everything went really quiet.”

She’s a young mother of two, her oldest is five years old, and they’ve lived in a Misión Vivienda building for three years now. She doesn’t want to tell me her real name and she’s emphatic when asking: “Don’t write my address in the article, please. You never know.”

No more than 20 people woke up early to open that voting center. “Desolation,” Gloria says. “I can only describe it like that. Nobody knocked on my door to tell me to go vote, not even in the WhatsApp group of neighbors.”

She did vote, though. “Just in case.”

“You could see the disappointment in people’s faces. You go out of fear, and you hear people angry for a CLAP that didn’t arrive, or problems with the elevator, the electricity…”

The process was fast, there was only one woman in line before her. A man asked her if she knew the system and that same person tried to walk with her to the actual voting station, “like he wanted to see my vote. I laughed and walked faster than him. He did that with everyone.”

All the voters had to go to the Punto Rojo then, even if in this case there was no theatrics. It was just a table that the voting station crew pointed at, so you scan your Carnet de la Patria and go home. Gloria did as she was told. “Maybe I’ll get a bonus for this, you know?”

Unlike any other Sunday, there was no salsa or merengue. Quieter than the first day of the year, the only hassle came when results were announced — five minutes of fireworks before silence shouted again.

One week later, nothing has changed.

“Yes, he won, but we still have the same issues. The CLAPs have disappeared, we have water once a week, power comes and goes and crime still makes the rules.”

She pauses to look out the window and the light accentuates the bags under her eyes.

“I’m not happy with my vote,” she says, “but have you seen anyone better?”

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46 COMMENTS

  1. “…you hear people angry for a CLAP that didn’t arrive…”

    Therein lies the problem. THAT there is a CLAP should cause the anger.

    • And very few people bother to look past the clap, that there’s literally no other source of food other than the clap and the chabizmo-controlled black market.

      And basically no one wants to explain or even mention at all that the regime has a monopoly on food.

  2. A Barclay’s report dated 15 May and titled “The ship is taking on water” suggests that the end of deferment of China loans will result in approximately ZERO imports to Venezuela during the second half of 2018.

  3. What do you expect? she apparently lives in an apartment she got handed out for free! Populists and clientelar politicians, or straight out totalitarians are all about control!

    Give a man a fish, or an apartment!, a CLAP box, bonuses for pregnancies, for being poor, etc. everything but promote independent citizens and you have control…

    Venezuela has been suffering a slow death over the last 100 years of Oil rents, one of easy riches for few and many handouts to many. The piñata is about to run dry. Welcome Mad Max.

  4. “I’m not happy with my vote, but have you seen anyone better?”–Wow, would she even RECOGNIZE anyone better?

    • Are Leopoldo, Ledezma, Capriles and Machado invisible to her?

      Why do CC articles always miss the point, and forget to ask the important follow-up question? Like, she hasn’t seen anyone better but who is barred from running?

      Granted, we’re talking about a real idiot here, no intellectual giant, but the writer comes across as even stupider by not asking the major question which is the crux of the whole crisis.

      It’s simply incredible what a waste of time this article was, another moron on the street point of view, and a moron asking the questions.

      • “Are Leopoldo, Ledezma, Capriles and Machado invisible to her?”

        The regime’s made sure to stop her from hearing anything else than the red communist lies during all this time.

        • “The regime has made sure to stop her from hearing anything else BUT/EXCEPT the red communist lies during all this time.”

          Yeah farmer vision as we used to call it. You only get to watch the crappy government owned channels. Hard to believe this can go on in our age of technology and social media…I mean EVERYONE has a smart phone don’t they? They may not have a pot to piss in, or a window to throw it out o, but they DO have a smart phone.

    • Yes, you’re right, you’ll see how Falcon lost because everyone was sitting in his home with his thumb up his ass waiting to see if his neighbor, in like mode, was going to vote first (Guacharaca, dixit, and right-on).

      • Indeed. Since Quico cashed out it has been a never ending sequence of lame articles. From duh to meh is like reading Ultimas Noticias in English.

        I give CC some spice for the next few weeks:
        – Where is Leopoldo Lopez and why he says he is (an invisible) leader after that NYT article?
        – Where is Baduel and what is behind the arrest of +100 armed force members?
        – Now what? is Maria Corina the last hope?
        – Would violence return or this it?. Conformism, hunger or fear, did Mauro already won?
        – Can the MUD be saved or do we need a new thing?. Who may be the next Leopoldo
        – If the economy is broken, what is actually sustaining the government? drugs, el petro, China, Russia, or US?
        – What really happened in the Helicoide? Inside job or opportunity?
        – The Maracucho War or how the separatist mindset may actually help us to unite and confront the dictatorship
        – Joshua Hill interview and what really happened to him before, during and after El Helicoide.
        – Guerrilla war could be the next logical step. Are we ready and who may finance it?

        So unless Quico’s house in Canada is bugged by the Sebin, I really don’t get this new CC focus.

        • All really great questions/topics. Add: rumored military top shakeup nixed by same top military; namby-pamby Aveledo at helm again of comatose MUD; political prisoners released on condition Oppo Governors accept responsibility for their actions?; significance of Colombian NATO membership/Petro 25% electoral vote; how does Pueblo survive on min. monthly wage when same barely buys a carton de huevos; WSJ article few weeks ago on aborted Ven. military uprising; etc., etc

        • The answer is simple:

          CC is hardly journalism. It’s like a high school newspaper.

          But incredibly, it’s the best we got for English language.

      • I would say Emiliana brings out the real hard hitting stuff from time to time, the slice of life articles are OK, but it shouldn’t be most of the articles in CC. I miss more macro analisis of the situation.

  5. “I’m not happy with my vote,” she says, “but have you seen anyone better?”

    Can’t blame her for this one. She won’t be able to tell why, but the alternatives really aren’t much better. Twenty fucking years and the oppo “leadership” still won’t name the monster by its name, which means they’re in on the scheme.

    • Uhhhh…

      Obviously, things were a lot fucking better 20 years ago.

      Give me AD and COPEI any day over THIS shit. I mean, come on:

      You know that there’s absolutely no comparison.

  6. This is what Venezuela looks like today.

    Every Monday morning, near the plaza in front of the local church, the town has an open market, sort of a farmer’s market, though in addition to fresh, locally-produced fruits, vegetables, cereals, beef, pork, chicken cheese, etc, there are vendors of household goods and other supplies as well. One can also find sugar, flour, cooking oil, margarine, toilet paper and other neccesities. Pretty handy for those who can’t afford to make the long trip to Punta de Mata. I’ve seen locals do a week’s worth of shopping for the family’s needs. Back when we could find feed and baby chicks to produce chickens, we first sold live birds there so the word would get out that we had the product available.

    The market normally consists of about 30-40 vendors and runs from 6 AM to roughly noon. Though the street where it’s held is quite wide, there are usually enough vendors and foot traffic that it’s closed to vehicles for the duration.

    A few weeks ago, the Colombians who sell most of the household supplies, stopped coming. Then the biggest fresh vegetable vendor in town stopped showing up. I assume he’d been there from the beginning because he had the best spot reserved for himself on the main corner.

    Monday morning I drove by there and the market consisted of one guy with a single plastic table with a couple dozen eggplants and about 5 pounds of yuca. Next to him was a guy with a wheel barrow and a few tortas of casave.

    It was 10AM.

  7. No products mostly. There’s cash in the streets right now, just nothing to buy.

    The Colombians don’t make the market any longer because they’re not from here which means they need transportation….and even though they use their own vehicles, tires, spare parts, oil etc have gone through the roof. It no longer pays to make the trip.

    This government is completely breaking the back of all private enterprise in the country. No one will be spared it appears.

  8. @ MRubio, you mentioned Punta de Mata, is it a long drive there? And can you buy stuff there once you make the drive?

    • Tom, Pta de Mata is about 45 minutes by car, for me anyway. Pretty good sized city, second largest in Monagas I’d imagine, and was pretty-well stocked with supplies for auto repair, farmers, etc, before everything went down the crapper.

      PDVSA has a major operational base and processing plant there to support the El Furrial oil field that runs between Pta de Mata and Maturin.

      Some farming supplies, welding, auto parts, etc can still be found there but even those are way tougher to find than just last year. Not much in the way of food though. I have no idea how most city dwellers are surviving these days. The markets are empty.

      • Wow….I wonder how long until roving gangs start coming out of the cities into the countryside looking for food and valuables that they can take. As ugly as it is now I fear it may get even uglier……

        • That’s already happening Tom, though roving gangs from the cities are the least of our worries today.

          Within the last 3 years, multiple people I know personally have had their farms attacked at night, their entire family and their workers tied up at gunpoint, and the place emptied of everything of value over the course of several hours. Most have also had animals killed and butchered on-site, or loaded live onto trucks to be hauled off. Even tractors and personal vehicles are stolen in the same raids. Then after cooking and eating a meal, provided by the poor owner of course, they load the stove and frig onto trucks and leave at 3 AM in a multi-vehicle caravan.

          Now, one can’t drive here for more than about 30 minutes without encountering a military checkpoint. And there is no extensive system of back roads that allows one to move from one area to another without detection. It’s pretty much the main highways or nothing. Who do you think can move a multi-vehicle caravan of cattle, cars, tractors, and home furnishings through multiple military checkpoints at 3 AM?

          Some of you may think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. I’m as serious as a heart attack and not talking about stories I’ve heard from a friend who has a friend who knew someone that this happened to. Multiple people I know personally.

          • @MRubio…don’t think you are exaggerating at all. I am sure what you have related is only the tip of the iceberg…..my God….where does it all end? Are we going to see video one day on the news showing small children with bloated, distended bellies lying on a mat on the ground too weak to get up? Flies crawling all over their faces but to weak to sway them away?
            These are the kinds of video that we have seen come out of famine stricken areas in Africa but never in the Americas that I can remember…….

          • Neighbor told me this morning that his family’s farm…..at the end of the road from the ranch I once owned……was attacked late in the PM two days ago…..same MO…..stole everything of value they could carry though they left on horseback……his horses!!

            Also said they had 3 of the attackers in jail. It’ll be interesting to see who bids the highest to either keep them there or let them out.

          • Oh OH OH!! I know THIS one!!! That’s a no brainer! Never get into a bidding war with the criminals that’s no good for anyone. What you want to do it let the police get paid to let them out and then pay the police to have them whacked once they are free! Best of both worlds, it’s win -win for everyone and no loose ends. Oh and remember, don’t pay until you see proof of death. La musica paga no suena.

  9. Question abaut Holt. He was 2 years in prison in Vzla. In Vzla we hear there is not much food available for a reasonable price. When I look at his pics, how comes hes so fat? I know people who have been in prison in Asia and they come back with a figur like a pencil.

    Either he was before much more fat as now or he has had not such a bad time in there regarding food.

    • Hans, I noticed that as well. Holt either ate well while in prison or, like the North Vietnamese would do before releasing American prisoners, they fattened him up before his release. I haven’t seen much of his post-release comments, but suspect he ate fairly well (relatively speaking) as compared to the average incarcerated Venezuelan.

      Generally, here in Venezuela, a prisoner relies heavily on his family to get him what he needs to survive within the jail……food, cigs, and money in particular. I have no idea what kind of support structure on the outside Holt may have had, but perhaps too as a “high profile” prisoner being that he’s American, he got better nutrition. Might be interesting to follow-up and hear some of his tales as told now that he’s free.

      Next door to our place is the US equivalent of a branch of the Sheriff’s department. Until a recent escape, there were 8 or 10 prisoners housed next door. They’ve since been moved to the main lockup. Anyway, while they were here, there was a daily procession of women….wives, mothers, sisters, entering the jail with meals for those guys. The policeman themselves look like they’re starving so I’m quite sure they were not ever preparing anything for those guys to eat.

      • Oh, I’m sure the last thing Maduro needed or wanted was to underfeed him, so he became skinny and malnourished.

        Probably the main reason he feared for his life during the recent Helicoide problems. Jealousy from other prisoners because of better treatment.

        If you look at the fine print, he never claimed danger from the authorities.

    • I would imagine the US Embassy was probably active in ensuring Holt had access to food and basic medical care.

      Let’s call it what it was, Holt was a victim of a government kidnapping operation. Venezuelan prisons being what they are, the headquarters of criminal enterprises, he likely had a “you touch a hair on his head, you die” order protecting him as he was a high value hostage. This is not to say he was lounging in the country club section, but I’ll bet he was better off than almost any other prisoner not involved in criminal behavior.

      Moving him to the Helicoide was a sign that someone felt he could come into play sooner rather than later. I’m sure he witnessed some pretty messed up things in his sojourn through the Venezuelan penal system. Perhaps we’ll see him testifying in court someday.

    • @MRubio….horse stealing was a hanging offense here in Oklahoma until not too many years ago when we became too civilized for our own good!

  10. Alberto. Those are the things we’d all like to hear about. I used to press for this stuff, but realized (or guessed) that the CC staff are not in a position nor yet have the people to do hardcore investigative journalism, to get out there in the field and dig. People in the field are generally only reporting on their own private woes or providing sketches of public events. Your list would require someone not moonlighting another job, which all the CC staff seems to be doing. True investigative reporting is a full time gig requiring dedicated pros – that is, reporting is ALL they do.

    • pSo: you are nit satisfied by how Caracas Chronicles has used your money? You think they should provide for a better article if they want to keep receiving the financiak support you are giving them?

      I do agree I would have wanted them to ask the woman and many others
      – how they think others would govern if they had the opportunity or
      – how come in Colombia, Chile, Peru, Uruguay people now have a much higher standard of living when Venezuela had the highest in South America in the seventies
      etc
      but I have to confess something: I haven’t given money to the CC people for them to have the time and peace of mind and food to focus on reporting about this

      • They don’t pay anyone.

        You know who gets the money, and that’s OKAY! It’s not like he’s not doing the work to keep this site going. He deserves it, and this site is based on free contributory “journalism.”

        It’s just that it’s only journalism every now and then by accident. Most of the time, he just has to publish 3 articles a day, the content and value of those articles be damned.

        Naky, on the other hand, is a Godsend. She’s just fucking amazing, and I have to give her translator (Javier?) a lot of credit for this.

      • Kep, I ask questions all the time.

        Every time a chavista tells me that capitalists are ruining the country by hiding and hoarding food to drive up prices, that they are 100% positive that there are warehouses with untold tons of rice, pasta, flour, sugar, you name it, scattered all over the country just waiting for the right price to be released, I ask them the following question:

        When chavistas have controlled the country for almost 20 years, controlled private access to dollars, controlled what enters the ports, controlled customs, controlled the National Guard who manages the ports, the National Guard who signs the release of goods from the ports, the National Guard who controls alcabalas strategically located all over the country and inspects the transport vehicles making their way across the country and authorizes their cargo and continued route, how is that capitalists are able to hide and hoard tons of food in warehouses without chavista knowledge?

        The answer is always the same.

        I’m sure driving around the countryside in Germany at night you’ve seen the same look I get from those chavistas in the glowing eyes of deer in your headlights.

        • You haven’t asked the question to the truly believers, Rubio.

          Those have an answer for everything you can throw at them:

          “chavistas have controlled the country for almost 20 years” – “socialism needs 50 years to be established, we’re just beginning!”

          “controlled private access to dollars” – “the capitalists took advantage of our good will and deceived the people to steal the dollars!”

          “controlled what enters the ports,” – “we’ve been infiltrated by the CIA, don’t you see it!”

          “controlled customs, controlled the National Guard who manages the ports” – “they’ve been temptted by capitalism, we still need decades to clean the offices from escuálidos!”

          “the National Guard who signs the release of goods from the ports, the National Guard who controls alcabalas strategically located all over the country and inspects the transport vehicles making their way across the country and authorizes their cargo and continued route,” – Those are all controlled by private oligarchy, just like comrade Aristóbulo said!”

          “how is that capitalists are able to hide and hoard tons of food in warehouses without chavista knowledge?” – “because jEkOnUmeEq wwWwWAAaaaAAarrRRrRrRR!”

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