w e w  l a d

I did it, I survived through another year in this glorious Socialist Revolution. 2017, Anno Domini MMXVII, Twenty Seventeen, Two Thousand Seventeen, Heisei 29—whatever you prefer to call it, sure felt like an eternity for me.

One thing is for sure, this will go down as one of the most unstable, troublesome, and disastrous years for my beloved Nation.

Hyperinflation, protests, political betrayals, deals with the devil, deaths, crisis, hunger, preservation of a skewed status quo, a struggle for survival—you name it. The government has tightened its iron grip all around us—boastful and feeling triumphant as never before, and now stands unopposed.

If I had to use a single adjective to describe 2017 it would be: Chaotic

My family went through its fair share of hardships this year, my fellow citizens endured things that they never deserved, but despite all the bad stuff that happened, not everything was gloom and atrocious for me during this year; from destruction comes creation.

While yes, this year did put me and my family under many stressful situations, it also opened the path for many great things to come, I met great friends, went slightly viral thanks to a certain tweet, and I laid the foundations for my novel project: Sword of the Nation, a large scale universe that I’ve been planning for years is finally taking form.

There were many challenges that we had to collectively face in Venezuela during this year, so many that I’ve honestly lost count of everything that happened through this year, but some of the most emblematic ones were:

The Collapse of the Venezuelan Bolivar

It is no secret that this was the worst year for our disjointed economy, and it shows; the long dreaded hyperinflation spiral was no longer a theoretical warning of economic experts, it became a living reality that we are now unfortunately suffering through its wake.

Everything has become exponentially more expensive over the past year, and the situation became much worse since mid October.

The price of this milk doubled in just a month

Whatever acquisitive power the Venezuelans had has now evaporated, demolished, poof, gone. I’ve been working as a freelance recently, while yes, I wasn’t making loads of cash, it was enough to help around the house with some expenditures, with the occasional treat every now and then.

Hyperinflation devoured us all to the point that I had no choice but to e-beg on Patreon, nowadays I’m only able to buy food and for my family and help with my mother’s medical expenses thanks to their generous patronage, I will always be grateful to them. Once I’m able to escape from this socialist paradise I will do anything in my power to make it up to each and every one of them.

Access to foreign currency has always been nuance and troublesome ever since Hugo Chavez implemented a currency control system in early 2003, but in 2017 it became a near impossible nightmare, only those with the right connections with the government elite have access to the official 10:1 exchange rate; the value of the Venezuelan Bolivar in the black market plummeted so hard and fast that we simply did not had a moment of respite to fully assimilate the effects of the first blow before it kept sinking further and further, by the time we coped with the fact that it had sunk bellow 10,000 per USD, the rate was already past 20,000 and so on.

To put it in perspective:

On January 03, 2017, the Black Market rate was at Bs. 3164,72 per USD

On December 29, 2017, the Black Market rate was at Bs.111,413.23 per USD

When I made that WoW gold > Venezuelan Bolivar tweet their value was quite close, close enough round their values up for a 1:1 ratio. As it stands today, one WoW Gold is worth more than 10 Venezuelan Bolivares; my original tweet certainly did not age well.

The outlook doesn’t look too bright either, The Government first tried to “move away from the US Dollar” by selling oil for Chinese Yuan instead, and announced a “basket of currencies” that included the Chinese Yen, Russian Rubles, Indian Rupees, Japanese Yen, among others.

The announcement was made with great fanfare. Hurray! Get rekt America! But it ultimately led to nothing, the idea died before it was even implemented.

A few weeks ago they’ve announced a new Cryptocurrency, the “Petro”, the idea is being praised by many, but now the Government has announced a series of regulations (yes, they want to regulate a cryptocurrency), from decreeing its value based on our proven oil reserves, to mandatory registries for those that wish to mine it. 

I may not be an expert on this subject, but I’m pretty sure that a list of miners maintained by the government defeats the anonymity and privacy tenets of a cryptocurrency, specially when there has been several documented cases of citizens being harassed by police officials because they were mining BTC and other currencies. 

I guess we’ll soon find out if it ends up being a successful endeavor, or just another catastrophic spectacle by the Government.

The Venezuelan protests

The 2017 Venezuelan Protests were the most important series of events, and also the most tragic ones; the unrest was no longer bearable, and it exploded the moment the Supreme Court attempted to dissolve the opposition-led parliament at the end of March 2017, which, mixed with the delayed regional elections, the blocked Presidential recall referendum, and the overall crisis, created a perfect storm against the government.

Five long months of unrest, of repression, of courageous protesters, of countless human rights violations, but in the end, the betrayal of the Opposition’s leadership quelled the flames of the protesters, who rightfully felt betrayed by a political leadership that rallied them and then abandoned them to their own luck; a leadership that is currently yet again doing a series of negotiations with the Government in order to keep the status quo intact.

They certainly do not care that the country falls apart as long as they get a slice of the debris, the MUD has now lost whatever credibility they had left.

One hundred and sixty-six citizens lost their life during those tumultuous months, in June 07, I nearly crashed my mother’s car when the National Guard began to throw tear gas as I was driving her to her chemotherapy, all hell broke loose.

I was further down that street when it happened

Countless were injured during the protests, and thousands more were arrested; the government did the good old tried and true tactic of “Let your enemies be if you know they’re screwing up.” 

All they had to do was patiently wait it out and let the MUD opposition coalition destroy themselves with their constant infighting and backstabbery.

Ultimately, and regretfully, the government won, they got what they wanted and then some more, they managed to neuter the opposition led-congress, installed their all-powerful and all mighty Constituent Assembly via a heavily rigged election, have near control of all of the regional governors and mayors, and have no true political force that can oppose them since the MUD committed political suicide.

Rumor has it that they might call for presidential elections ahead of time, with no solid figure to stand against Maduro it’ll just be another charade on their behalf. And even if by some dumb miracle someone manages to defeat Maduro in the upcoming elections, that person would have to stand against:

  • A Constituent Assembly that can simply remove or castrate him/her at a whim.
  • A Supreme Court that can invalidate anything that emanates from the Presidency.
  • Near-zero support from the pro-government governors and majors.

Fixing this debacle will not be a one person job and it will be a long and arduous process to rebuilt years of Socialist devastation, believing that a messianic figure will be the solution to all of our problems is what got us into this mess in the first place.

The Health Crisis

The Health crisis continues to rain havoc upon our citizens, the medicine situation hasn’t improved at all, and now meds have become absurdly expensive for the average citizens. 

Treatments for cancer, HIV, and many other high-risk conditions are at an all-time low, I am now beyond desperate, trying to find Votrient (Pazopanib) pills for my mother no matter what, which she needs in her fight against cancer, It’s been nearly five months since she was prescribed them and we have not been able to obtain them through any means, there hasn’t been any in the country for a long time. 

At times, when I am lucky enough to find a medicine that my mother needs, I buy as many as I can, because I don’t know when it’ll be the next time I’ll be able to find it, and also because I don’t know how much more it’s going to cost. 

I paid 70,000 Bolivares for a box of Sodic Metamizole pills in late October, less than a month later I had to pay nearly twice as much for the same box, so you have to unfortunately get into this hoarding mindset for the sake of your family members’ health.

The government’s refusal to admit the severity of this problem, and their blockade against any humanitarian channel continues to make things worse. Their excuse? 

“There is no crisis, and they just want to use the pretense of a humanitarian crisis to invade us”

If you’re reading this, and know any way, organization, method, or institution in any country that can provide humanitarian aid for my mother and grant her access to proper treatment for her cancer, please let me know, I just want to save my mother from this nightmare.

The Food Shortages

Just like with meds, the food shortages and hunger continues to grow at an alarming rate, children are dying of malnourishment, and starvation is rampant. 

Ever since the government regulated the price of meat and chicken a few weeks ago, there’s been a severe shortage of them, because no one in their right mind will go through all the trouble of selling them at a loss just because the government says so. 

Forget about drug dealers, the new craze is contraband meat dealers. 

Eggs are now so expensive that the monthly minimum wage that a large majority earns isn’t enough to buy an egg per day, it takes nearly a week’s minimum wage to buy a loaf of bread, a Kilogram of ham or cheese costs way more than a Kilogram of ground beef. 

Hell even two kilograms of onions will devour most of the minimum wage on its own.

What few meat you can regularly find in supermarkets (namely, pork chops, and other porcine products, since most supermarket chains are now opting to not sell regulated meat and chicken at a loss) is now so expensive that is way out of reach of the large majority.

Half a million for 300 grams of bacon

If December was an indication of how food prices will be in 2018, then expect them to double—or even triple within the first trimester of 2018.

The Goals for 2018

A Sign of Zeta

Everyone makes New Year Resolutions, it’s a perfect time to put all the bad that happened behind, and to look at the new year with as much optimism as humanly possible, despite all that’s happening around me and having my fair share of depression as a result. I gotta keep believing in that Sign of Zeta, beyond the hard times of now.

I can’t afford to give up in 2018, no matter what happens.

Objective: Escape

In 2017, the main objective was to Survive, for 2018, my main objective is to Escape. 

The first and foremost priority for me in 2018 is to get my mother and brother out of this country as soon as possible, and to find a way for my mother to get the cancer treatment she deserves and desperately needs. 

We still do not have a concrete destination, but we’re working on to get our papers in order, in the end, whatever place my mom can get proper cancer treatment at works for me, as well as any place where my brother can have a future.

Sword of the Nation

In a few days I’ll be 30 years old, a new decade of my life is upon me, a perfect time to finally set in motion a project that I’ve been trying to shape for so long. 

Exactly a year ago, I had only a basic premise for Sword of the Nation, the first in a series of sci-fi books, as it stands today, my current manuscript draft contains over 91 thousand words, and is over 300 pages long, with a solid roadmap for its sequels, a more robust universe and lore that I could’ve possibly dreamed of years ago. 

I wish I would’ve been better with time during 2017 to have a fully finished first draft by now, but alas, I wasn’t able to. If all goes according to keikaku, I will be publishing it sometime during 2018, it’s a simple “man learns to be a hero” premise, but I hope it’s engaging and captivating,

I want to emphasize more on the main cast of characters than the action itself, and how the burdens of the past can shape a person as it carves its own path through history.

I want to convey to you all my best wishes for 2018. We’re all gonna make it lads, 2018 is going to be /ouryear/ 

Happy New Year. 

-Kal