February came and went in the blink of an eye, it’s almost ephemeral passing marked the 11th month of Venezuela’s ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns. Onwards we go, to the first year anniversary of our new normal.

The shortest month of the year was rather uneventful. As I’ve mentioned in previous entries, Venezuela is, for all intents and purposes, stuck in a complete state of stagnation. Nothing moves forward, nothing really improves, we’re simply stuck in an entropic loop, going in and out of ‘radical’ and ‘flexible’ quarantine weeks while dealing with every nuance and obstacle of this post-collapse chapter of our country, doing what we can so that we don’t wither away.

Carnival is one of the most joyful holidays around the world, suffice to say, the context that the world finds itself into forced this year’s festivities to be modest and reserved. While our Carnival celebrations are in no way as grandiose as Brazil’s, we sure know how to make the most of the ‘extended weekend’ of Carnival.

Our Worker-President, Driver of Victories, Empanada Connoisseur, and Son of Chavez™ decreed a flexibilization of the lockdown so that people could enjoy their ‘Biosafe Carnivals’ on the 16th and 17th of February—which was then extended to cover that whole week. With us
going back to the seven days of radical lockdown, followed by seven days of flexibilization cycle.

At least it's not that dreaded 'Alegria' artstyle

Certainly so, our traditions have been severely impacted by the ever so worsening economic and societal situation of Venezuela. Children can’t play with water and splash each other with water-filled balloons when there’s neither no water nor money to spare in entertainment, the same goes for costumes, not every kid (and adult) gets to don a costume these days—add a pandemic to the mix, and you exacerbate it all.

Children dressed as FAES officers, Maduro's death squads

That doesn’t mean that people have or will completely stop celebrating, no matter how dire things are. The country may be irreparably damaged after twenty two years of revolution, and not even a collapsed country, plus a pandemic, will stop people from enjoying themselves.

Now that's what I call double-masking

A day or two at the beach is perhaps the ‘go-to’ way of celebrating Carnival here, it’s also one of the cheapest ways to have a good time with your friends and family. That being said, some stayed home as part of their own Coronavirus prevention measures, while others stayed at home because of monetary constraints.

Even a simple trip to the beach does incur in expenses, more so now that we’re all but officially dollarized, not to mention that with the severe gasoline shortages does make you act very frugal when it comes to fuel consumption—the shortages are still quite the shock for the inhabitants of Caracas, because we were the last to get hit by the shocking reality the rest of the country had been experiencing for years. Free gasoline was our one gimmick—now we don’t even have that.

Regardless, I sincerely hope people managed to have a great Carnival. Respite does now flow with ease these days, and staying stranded and isolated for so long is not something I wish upon anyone—I’ve lived most of my life like this, so, yeah…the confinement does eventually get to you.

Now that Carnival is over, life went back to its stagnant new normal in these days of Lent. Vaccination is a collective concern for many, and that’s where things get tricky, for the lack of a better word. Venezuela recently received the first shipment of 100,000 of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. Even if you don’t factor the 5+ million Venezuelans that fled the country, 100,000 doses hardly cover the ~25 million people left in the country.

You’d think that these would be prioritized among the elderly and those with the highest risk—well, think again. There is a clear priority to vaccinate members of the Socialist Party first and foremost, including the recently installed pro-Maduro National Assembly, with the military, governors, mayors, and other members of the state. Healthline workers and police officers were also part of the priority, but you know, the socialist party’s ‘vanguard’ goes above all else first and foremost.

Everyone else has to wait. The rest of the nation’s citizens have to make do with what they have and continue to face the pandemic with whatever means they can as they continue to wrestle against the ongoing collapse of the Socialism of the 21st century project, with a crippled public and private health sector, ongoing gasoline shortages, and a collapsed water and electricity infrastructure.

I have chosen to focus instead on my own things instead, such as finishing Sword’s draft, getting my passport extended, getting sidetracked by some minor health issues, household repairs, accidents from my upstairs neighbor damaging my ceiling, and resuming the admittedly slow but inexorable escape out of this country with my brother. I’ve also begun to leave some things in order so that everything is ready by the time we have a definitive travel date. The pandemic set me back a whole year, but that is something I (and everyone else) was not able to control or have a say.

March will be the one year anniversary of this new lockdown reality of ours. See you there, and as always, I hope you all stay safe and take care!

Until the next one,