To Helmut, my dear stepfather (1945-2018)

If 2017 felt like a never ending story for Venezuelans, how was 2018? To say it was challenging would be the greatest of understatements. If I could describe 2018 in a sentence, I’d say it was a year of loss: personal losses, civic losses, financial losses. A lot was lost, to me and to the whole country.

But not everything is lost yet: we’re still here, more than 16 years later. And I’ve been part of this for almost seven of them. Caracas Chronicles has become a place of gathering for many voices, subjects, questions, emotions. As I did last year, I made a personal selection of the best we had to offer. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Let’s go!

January

Inflation is like money cancer, and hyperinflation is money metastasis. The AN’s report estimating inflation for December at 85% ratifies that we’ve now crossed Phillip Cagan’s threshold. But forget about that; raw hyperinflation means much more that prices increasing every day. As the bolívar’s value plummets, people start using other exchange methods. Read more.
  • A Chavista New Year’s Eve in the Post-Pernil Era, Mabel Sarmiento. 2018 begins with a lavish New Year party in Caracas by the chavista mayor, while broken promises and continued grievances are the biggest concern of their hard-core supporters.
  • A Breakthrough in Huntington Country, Juan Carlos Gabaldón. A small town in Western Zulia has lived all these years under the shadow of Huntington’s Disease, but also has been key in the research done to understand the disease.
  • Hanging Out at the Bus Stop, Carlos Hernández. Moving around Guayana is an odyssey for those who depend on public transportation. Carlos Hernández gives us a first-hand account of the infamous “perreras”.
  • At the Centro Portugués, it’s Portus vs. Portugal’s Foreign Minister,  César Crespo. The Portuguese Foreign Minister visits Venezuela, but its public meeting with members of the community shows the huge disconnection between Lisbon and their nationals living here.
  • Venezuelan Banks Stare into the Abyss,  Pedro Rosas. The local bank sector is scared: they’re struggling and the chance of a major crisis is quite high. But they’re not alone: Those betting on Venezuelan bonds already had quite a rough year too.
  • Venezuela’s Black Mirror Moment: #DeathTo Óscar Pérez, Nina Rancel. On January 15, rebel police officer Oscar Pérez and his associates were killed in a massive military operation. As evidence appears of what was actually an extrajudicial killing, CC reflects on how we saw his actions.
  • Maracucho Taxi Drivers Pioneer Dolarization Pa’Resolver,  Rafael Labrador. The issue of dollarization is starting to show not only in formal economic discussions: a cab ride in Maracaibo gives us a hint of how it slowly starts to become normal with time.
  • De Mérida Pa’Montevideo,  Astrid Cantor. Some are still fighting the good fight against the government in the human rights area, and one local NGO from Merida went all the way to Uruguay to present the other side of the story.
  • The 23 de Enero Myth Turns 60, José González Vargas. 23 de Enero, 1958: A historic date for Venezuela. But as the 60th anniversary of the collapse of the last known military dictatorship in the country goes under the public radar, we take a tour of what happened back then, and what came right after such important event.
  • Corruption and Inefficiency by the IVSS Kills Venezuelans,  Daniel Andrade. An inside look at the disastrous condition of the hospitals under the IVSS, (Venezuelan Social Security Institute), as basic healthcare for many depends on them.

Special Mention: Cash Crisis in Guayana Pica y Se Extiende Parts I & II, Carlos Hernández & Victoria Moreno

February

The industry is still reeling from the military takeover of PDVSA. The purchasing power of wages has collapsed. Here, in Anaco, the large PDVSA Gas facility has been been hit hard by it all. Read more

Special Mention: Is the Petro the Outcome of a Blood Pact With Evil Voodoo Spirits?, C.H. Charles

Marzo

During its first two decades, the Metro worked fine. The system didn’t lose money and was seen as the most modern in Latin America. This year, everything changed. Read more.

Special Mention: The Left in the Americas and the Problem with Losing the Moral High Ground on Venezuela, José Ramón Morales Arilla

The journey’s just begun, dear readers. So please, hold on for Part II, coming soon.

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