The second month of 2020 came and went so fast that I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that we’re already in March.
This past month of February shared much of the elements that have comprised the previous months of Venezuela’s livelihood. The unmistakable and dreadful feeling of stagnation continued to permeate through each and every one of its twenty nine days.
Despite the overall stillness of February, the month was not without its fair share of unique and strange events throughout the month—regardless, there’s no denying that the endless routine has unconscionably made us accept this slowly collapsing reality once more, either I’m going crazy, or the cycle has simply continued anew.
It’s not what our normal lives should entail, but the current state of Venezuela is what passes for normalcy these days, and some are content with it, I’m certainly not.
I gotta say that, that in light of the continued stagnation of the political conflict, I became rather disenfranchised of the country’s affairs, and I found myself so deeply ingrained and absorbed in my own version of the routine that I’ve been carrying out for years now that I simply lost myself in it throughout the past weeks.
So, after a rather embarrassing dental conundrum that incurred in a noticeable impact to my very tight monthly finances, I took it upon myself to separate myself more from the country’s standstill and instead chose to focus on things that I can be of change, such as certain personal affairs, and the one absolute and primary goal that has driven me for two years now: legally escaping from this country and finding a way for my brother to do the same.
This Socialist Revolution celebrated its 21st anniversary in power on the 2nd of February. Twenty one whole years of a regime that is now old enough to drink in every corner of the planet.
The same political party, holding power for over twenty one years now, with no apparent end in sight. It can feel disheartening and nauseating, but shouldn’t cause one to loose all hope. Some of the most die-hard opposition supporters would crucify you for saying this but It’s not like we have a viable alternative right now, not with this ever so locked and rigged status quo.
2020 is posing to be yet another repeat of the same old tale of the Venezuelan disaster, with new spices added to the recipe. A socialist government that is now willing to go against the very tenets that has preached for years in order to stay in power, and an opposition that, while I’m sure has its own fair share of people willing to fight, can’t get their act together and work as a team—now more fragmented than ever before.
For some, being the eternal opposition is, and will sadly continue to be, good business.
A rally has been called for the 10th of March by Juan Guaido, the call itself being done weeks in advance. It’s not the first time that this tactic of calling for a rally weeks ahead of time has been used, and it’s a very worn out one nowadays—we’ll see what comes out of it.
The eternal struggle against inflation
Inflation wasn’t as impactful in February when compared to January, doesn’t mean it wasn’t noticeable. As with other aspects of the collapse of this country, it’s something you simply take for granted; like a snoring husband, you just get used to it—it’s part of the ingrained machine of living in this country.
Going through the files of my now dead seven year old phone (rest in peace, it had a good run), I found an old pic to compare just how much prices have skyrocketed between August of 2019 and February of 2020.
The jumps in prices haven’t been as dramatic in recent weeks, largely in part due to the pseudo dollarization of Venezuela, which I’m sure has some fervent communists/regime supporters up in arms—and others happy because they can launder some of their dirty money; after spending over two decades demonizing the evil US dollar it’s suddenly good.
Basically, after years upon years of Socialist controls and fierce regulations, the only thing keeping this moribund economy alive is a slight dose of capitalism, go figure.
I find opportune to reiterate that just because openly trading and dealing with foreign currencies is no longer illegal it doesn’t mean that we’re now a free economy, far from it rather. Currency controls still exist, banks are essentially useless for credits, as they’re strangled by regulations, and importing a product is cheaper and more profitable than producing it locally.
It was simply done as a escape valve measure, at this point the regime will do and try whatever keeps them in power, even if it goes against their core socialist ideals. Socialism for thee but not for me.
The regime’s flaunted Food Sovereignty™ still consists on making you depend on their subsidized handout boxes of food known as CLAP, which are full of imported products that we never had an issue producing before (such as Turkish pasta, Chinese sardines, Brazilian sugar), while they fill their pockets through the large scale embezzling of this program.
Our War games
Because there must always be bread and circus (especially circus), the regime carried out the “Bolivarian Shield 2020” exercises, in order to prepare the Fatherland against foreign invaders.
The rather laughable spectacle unfortunately made use of the elderly that have been coerced into joining the militia, something I find most disrespectful.
Others perhaps, simply participated because they had no choice, known no better, or where offered a bonus of some sorts—in any case, who am I to judge.
I should probably feel insulted that they sent an automated text message to my mom’s cellphone inviting her to participate in this charade, even though I know it wasn’t intentional and it was just because her name, age, and phone number are still in more than one government database out there.
The tiresome non-normalcy
Public utilities continue to be an unmitigated disaster, and I spent much of February dealing with the consequences of the ongoing collapse.
A year ago we used to have approximately 96 hours of running water per week in this area. Now we’re down to somewhere between 36 to 48 hours per week, anything more and we should consider ourselves lucky to have received such a great ‘benefit’ from the revolutionary authorities.
This noticeable reduction did caused me some headaches, which also prompted me to reschedule and rearrange the weekly routines that I carry out during the hours that we do count with something that should work 24/7 such as water. I found once again basing my entire daily schedule around the limited windows of water that we had throughout the month, from shaving, laundry, to household cleaning.
Electric power, another insurmountable nightmare if you live outside of Caracas, started to plague the capital once again. I couldn’t finish this post yesterday because I had a total of six mini blackouts throughout Monday the 2nd—and even still, I should feel grateful that I’m not in my birth-town of Maracaibo, which still has it pretty bad when it comes to electricity.
At this point I wonder how much of a collective mental and physical toll these increasing failures in our public utilities have incurred upon us in recent times. I didn’t put much thought about this before, but it’s something I’m starting to notice. I already feel like I’m trapped in a prison-esque cycle, that I have to base my entire life around those hourly rations of water, and make the most out of the brief days that we do have running water.
The few hours/days that we do have running water is where I get back some of the sanity lost and feel like I’m living with a modicum of normalcy. To flush toilets at any time and at any moment, to open a faucet or sink and wash your hands whenever I want, to be able to take a shower at any time of the day, these little things that people living in other countries take for granted—are the things I want the most—that and a sense of peace and security.
For being such a “short” month, February sure had more of the same.
I feel extremely disenfranchised of this seemingly endless conflict, what strenghts I have left are better spent on surviving and ensuring the well-being of my brother, working on my projects, and my ongoing efforts in finding a legal migration solution for the two of us.
Until the next one,