Nina’s Vamosbien-o-meter, Vol. 1

Four weeks after Nicolás Maduro started a presidential term not recognized as legitimate by most of the international community and with that a full constitutional crisis of global resonance, social networks and streets are again a racing course between believers and discouraged. But this time, Team Hope looks way closer to the trophy.

Photo: Biz Republic retrieved

Some people lose hope because they’ve been hopeful too many times.

We, Venezuelans, were hopeful on April 11, 2002; and some after, when high-ranking officers spent months in Altamira Sq. and promised to stay there until Chávez left (spoiler alert: Chávez stayed), then we hoped again during the oil strike, and in the 2004 referendum, and then several times when Chávez jailed, killed or robbed to consolidate his absolute control over the Venezuelan people. We hoped every one of those straws would break the strongman’s back, that someone in the institutions he destroyed would stop him.

Then we hoped again when Capriles almost won after the ugliest, most unfair electoral campaign of our lives. We hoped again in the Maduro election because we were happy to see the man who had ruined us go, and we thought that Tibisay wouldn’t dare. We hoped again in 2014, in 2015 with the election of this National Assembly and then in 2017. We hoped because Venezuelans are irresponsibly optimistic.

Venezuelan Twitter had little “they sold us out, we’ve been betrayed, they’ve failed us again” attacks. It looked like some people were discouraged, yet again. Pessimists, clueless oppo radicals and Twitter chavista bots no son muchos, but they’re loud enough.

The thing is, Twitter isn’t real life. And in real life, I hear and see people are optimistic.

The thing is, Twitter isn’t real life. And in real life, I hear and see people are optimistic. In a truly informal survey, in Montecristo neighborhood, then in a fancy restaurant and then at a stand-up comedy joint in Caracas, I became a weird aunt-grandma-lady who talked about Guaidó to everyone she could. Older sifrinas, teenagers that pack groceries in bags, the guys behind the counter of my go-to liquor store, comedians who I know are having a really hard time with money, former chavistas, millennials and senior citizens, people who work at embassies.

They said things like “It will work, because it’s now or never”, “Everyone is tired and hungry, so we have to end Maduro now”, “I wish it were faster but that’s how diplomacy works”, “I can’t wait to march again”, “I trust that what Guaidó’s doing will work”. “Hi, sir, can I get a cachito de cese de la usurpación, gobierno de transición y elecciones libres?” Everybody at the bakery laughed.   

I can’t blame people for going through this faith-no-more phase. I’ve wanted this dictatorship to be over so many times before. I wanted political prisoners to be released. I wanted everyone in Venezuela to have food, medicine, liberties and choices. I wanted democracy and freedom like I wanted that horse Santa never got me.

It was just never going to happen back then. It will happen now, though.

The evidence, tangible, logical, factual is all there. Every important sector, every relevant factor, every piece of the puzzle. And I know it’s scary to wish for something, but this time the heart should listen to the brain when it yells “Dude, wake up and smell the humanitarian aid” (and the many ways Maduro will lose that crucial, literal life-saving battle. He’s doomed if he tries to stop it from entering the country and doomed if he doesn’t).

Yes, we wanted to overthrow Maduro because he’s an economic tragedy and a ruthless dictator, but we had little legal room to achieve that in 2014, for example. A very sad example of “tienes razón, pero vas preso”, unfortunately.

We had every right to protest in 2017 and we almost made it, but nothing back then happened exactly the right way, at exactly the right time, not like it’s happening now.

The facts are:

  1. We’re using our Constitution to restore constitutional order and we’re led by the only legitimate power in the land of arepa, cachapa and Polar and by…
  2. The new caretaker president who has a clear plan and a defined strategy.
  3. He was then recognized by the majority of the free world, nations with true power and influence.
  4. Venezuelan assets and accounts have been frozen while the AN and Guaidó and his allies are finding ways to take full control over our money.
  5. We have appointed new ambassadors and representatives all over the continent.
  6. Humanitarian aid is a 45-minute drive away.
  7. There’s a law for a democratic transition that guarantees to name qualified, non-partisan government officials that will protect the Venezuelan people, rule fairly and, you know, do their jobs right.
  8. That same law will even guarantee fair and free elections as soon as possible.
  9. Maduro was probably counting on Montevideo to give him a breather and it spectacularly backfired, because the EU countries involved were like: “Hey, Maduro, restore democracy and hold free elections now. Yes, now.”
  10. Today, the U.S. revoked visas of all ANC members and their immediate families (maybe this one serves no purpose in restoring our democracy but it will surely make you smile).

TL, DR: See it for yourself. Reasonable people know we’re on the right track. The comments are truly uplifting, in case you’re feeling tired or disappointed and have free time, Briceño’s video is pretty cool, too.

All of this has happened in less than a month. How much progress—tangible, factual progress—did we make from April 2017 to May 2017? Back then, we had already lost too much.

In order for this new strategy to work, it must be done right. There are no shortcuts, no easy roads, no life hacks for this one. But I’d rather have a longer transition, if it guarantees that we’ll have the country we deserve. Yes, Venezuelans are starving and dying, yes, we’re broke and desperate. So, I’ll protest for those who are too weak to move, and I’ll talk to everyone who needs reasons, and convince everyone I can. All of us who aren’t tired of protesting, will protest for those who are. All of us who know better than to parrot propaganda and defeat, have to become the voices of reason. Because this time reason points to hope. I think we all know, deep down, but refuse to accept it because being hopeful and feeling joy has broken our hearts way too many times already.

My favorite fictional dictator, President Snow from The Hunger Games, said that “Hope is the only thing stronger than fear”.

The fight for democracy—and pretty much anything else worth in life—isn’t a 100-mts race, but a marathon. This is no task for Usain Bolts, it’s a task for Haile Gebrselassies.

So expect new updates, because this Vamosbien-o-meter will be updated shortly, with consistent progress.  

Nina Rancel

Nina is an actress and comedian living in Bogotá. She loves reading and correcting people when they screw up, which is perfect for working as a copy editor at Caracas Chronicles, because she gets to do both.