Photo: retrieved

It was July 2017. The Venezuelan opposition had called people to protest daily against Nicolás Maduro and the demonstrations were increasingly bloodier because the dictatorship decided it didn’t mind ruling over a graveyard.

Raúl, David, Andrés and I met one night to make it through the barricades and walk as many blocks as necessary to get to Daniela’s home. It was her birthday. Although many would argue that our actions were born from indifference, our motto was “we march by day and drink by night.”

Although many would argue that our actions were born from indifference, our motto was “we march by day and drink by night.”

Daniela is one of our best friends and her dad was a high-ranking officer in Zulia’s Governor’s Office under Francisco Arias Cárdenas so, looking at the snacks, drinks and sweets, we felt a bit like hypocrites, but we told ourselves we deserved this, after weeks of choking on tear-gas, fleeing armored vehicles and seeing all that repression on social media. We had to win one from the dictatorship after everything they’d taken from us.

So we took four chairs and, surrounded by a bunch of enchufados, we started the debate we had every day: “The opposition must call for a general strike. Maduro won’t be in Miraflores in a month if the entire country shuts down”; “I don’t know, man, I think a general strike would hurt us more than it would the government”; “The government can’t throw the ANC punch, because they’ll be done. People are angry.”

We discussed, danced with our friends and had small debates about soccer. Although nobody said anything, deep down we all feared the National Constituent Assembly that could be installed in just a few weeks.

Deep down we all feared the National Constituent Assembly that could be installed in just a few weeks.

That night, Luis and Frederick, other members of our inner circle, were missing. The first one left the country in 2016, while the second thought we needed to keep on the streets, although with a pessimistic outlook of the future.

We all supported MUD’s decisions and answered their calls, like the popular consultation on July 16. I remember that day with longing, because I could see the faces of friends shining with hope.

Days later, I read Leonardo Padrón’s article about that Sunday’s process and I didn’t hesitate to share it on my WhatsApp group. “Come on, nojoda. No going back!”, replied one of my pals, parodying the phrase Óscar Pérez used to say in his videos.

On July 30, chavismo installed the ANC after elections disregarded by the international community. The disappointment of thousands of Venezuelans was palpable before the almost non-existent response of the opposition, who didn’t even call for demonstrations that damned Sunday.

The disappointment of thousands of Venezuelans was palpable before the almost non-existent response of the opposition.

The rest is history: Raúl, one of the most active about marches, left for Chile with his girlfriend and now works as a security guard; David left for Argentina, and his depression is evident on social media. He’s had a hard time adapting and finding good jobs, although he already has a foreign girlfriend; Frederick was the last to leave (so far). He’s in the U.S. and he’s still not telling us what he’s doing for a living; Andrés is still here. He wants to graduate and then see what to do.

Meanwhile, I play deaf when people ask if I’m leaving. Truth is, I don’t want to leave because I don’t like leaving the things I love behind, even though chavismo has destroyed or tainted them.

Who likes to flee from home?

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.

6 COMMENTS

  1. “we march by day and drink by night.”

    In the same way too many people in Venezuela never took the fight against the regime seriously enough to win it.

  2. “Truth is, I don’t want to leave because I don’t like leaving the things I love behind, even though chavismo has destroyed or tainted them.

    Who likes to flee from home?”

    It is a bitter pill to swallow, to leave home. My ancestors did. My wife and her family have fled twice the last 70 years. I am confident they didn’t embark upon a new life lightly. I can’t speak for her, but I know my wife worried a lot about marrying a gringo and leaving her childhood home and starting a new life thousands of miles away in a culture that she was still getting used to.

    But its called life. It isn’t called winning.

    Facundo, if your life is shit and you don’t see a way out, you aren’t obliged to live a shitty life. If you stay and insist upon a better life in Venezuela, then you will have to fight for it. You might lose your life, but, your life will no longer be shitty. Either way, you will have done something to improve your lot. A decision has to be made then, about what lengths you are willing to go to.

    Or, you can flee. My wife’s family took that option. They liked Venezuela. But they didn’t love it. To them, the writing was on the wall back in the middle 1990’s. It was the culture they hated. They never felt safe. They hated the corruption and the feeling you couldn’t trust your neighbor. Everyone was on the make. (Sort of like a tropical Las Vegas). So, when Chavez started confiscating private property (her uncles concrete business) and the people loved him for it… they left while they could.

    Leaving might be an option. If you are pessimistic or apathetic about the situation in Venezuela, I suggest leaving. There are shitloads of countries looking for smart, young, energetic talent. It isn’t unappreciated in other cultures.

  3. It is common sport to berate the opposition and its leaders. Of course they made mistakes, but at the end they won the democratic game, they proved that Chavismo is a dictatorship and a brutal one.

    Chavismo politics and ideology of resentment were incredibly successful, too. The people that brought Chavismo to power detest the intellectual and economic elite that is represented by the opposition. They hate the middle class and above (btw, this is not too different to the wholesale rejection of a perceived smug intellectual and cosmopolitan class in Europe, and the US which brought the present wave of populist governments to power).

    The game now is, as some commenter said a few days ago, a full blown insurrection, but the opposition never had a broad base support and that level of commitment for this. Can the opposition call for a strike and have Catia or El Valle shut down? They cannot. The opposition is feckless to affect a real power play.

    The power player is the Fuerzas Armadas de Ocupacion Bolivariana and in spite of the decay and instability foisted on Venezuela by Chavismo, the legion of fat generals have carved a pretty nice place in this shit house. They at least get a comfortable salary and a security detail, while those with more entrepreneurial skills and lower moral standards dip into organized crime. They have no need to look for change in this unsustainable and cruel situation.

    From my reading of Aporrea, another narrative that has stuck in Chavista supporters is the romantic memory of Chavez. He was wonderful and it is this scoundrel of Maduro that ruined it all.

    The political move is to scoop the Chavez mantel and re-legitimize Chavismo in front of the people. This implies a radical break with Maduro, while still being Chavista. This has been attempted unsuccessfully several times by the likes of Nicmer Evans, and Henry Falcon and now Rafael Ramirez. However, the move is indispensable because a true collapse of Chavismo will land all those criminals in jail inside and out of Venezuela. The trick is to boot Maduro and still stay in power, which may be acceptable for all in Venezuela. This is difficult because it requires a chaotic gangland move.

    This will bring Chavismo post Maduro, a government that will be fail in its infancy because the level of destruction of Venezuela requires international financing through IMF and the World Bank to address. These institutions will require the restoration of a democracy.

    So Facundo, there is more havoc to come, but it may be worth it, after all this is YOUR country.

  4. Am I the only one having trouble with the title of this post?

    When I read it, thought “yes, almost all my chats are news rooms, price checking, warning about x product found at x place and rants about the SOB & Cia.”

    So totally agreed my WhatsApp chats have been ruined by the dictatorship.

    There are still jokes, memes, gifts, el negro de WhatsApp y and Mia Khalifas’ screams but the content is 85% about Venezuela’s crisis.

    In any case Facundo no one wants to leave home.

    Everything is about decisions and sticking with them.

    I wish you the best luck.

  5. I have a feeling that proclamations from people who want to stay in this shithole don’t tell the whole truth.

    They CAN’T leave, because of Chavismo connections and favors. And there’s nowhere for them to go to live “comfortably,” like the U.S.

    Does anyone think the Chavista scum or non-Chavista actually wants to emigrate to Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay or Chile? As opposed to the U.S.?

    Hell, they don’t even want to go that shithole Mexico.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here