And so the fifth month of Venezuela’s COVID-19 quarantine continues unabated ever since it started back in March. As if living in Venezuela wasn’t miserable enough, we now have this perpetual quarantine reality deep entrenched in our lives. Unfortunately, I’ve lost hope that it’ll get lifted anytime soon.
Between last month’s entry and today, there has been a dramatic increase in cases—if you go by the regime’s official statistics, we’re now at over 10.000 confirmed cases, and an unfortunate amount of over 100 deaths. Most notably is the announcement that several of the regime’s figureheads have tested positive for COVID-19, including Diosdado Cabello and Tarek el Aisammi, and the announcement that over 160 members of Venezuela’s military are among the infected.
Again, I will have to gag myself here and withhold any opinions regarding said statistics and announcements, whether or not you want to go along with them or contest them (which is grounds for arrest here) is up to you.
Meanwhile, the ongoing collapse of the country continues just as it was, the usual woes, power, water, inflation, access to food and health, all continue to make life ever so miserable here for the sheer majority. A recent report goes to show just how bad life has become here, with 79.3% of the population now living in extreme poverty.
I am always thankful each day because in spite of all we have food and a roof, even if my morale is at its lowest these days—water shortages being my eternal woe, though.
Given the sudden spike of cases that has occurred over the past days, Caracas and the State of Miranda have been once again placed in a ‘level 1’ quarantine alert, which severely restricts the amount of commercial activity that’s allowed, impacting people’s ability to work and move across the city. Restaurants can only serve customers through delivery services, and even the sales of alcohol have once again been forbidden.
Most of the people can’t freely transit with their vehicles, as you need a ‘salvoconducto’ or ‘safe passage’ document that allows you to transit through the streets of Venezuela freely, which, if the nature of your work doesn’t entitle you to one, or you’re not related to someone in the regime then you’re out of luck—unless you know a guy that knows a guy that can procure one for you, for a price.
So, with limited mobility, my mom’s car still under slow repairs (and possibly locked out of the gasoline system due to paperwork that I haven’t been able to solve), and no salvoconducto, I can only go to as far as the confines of the area where I live, effectively placing me in a state of pseudo house arrest within the blocks around my house. That means that pretty much I can only go to the nearest supermarket, the bakeries, toiletries store that’s somewhat distant, and a far pharmacy—that sums up where I’ve been at over the past months.
We’ve already been told by Maduro himself that we won’t return to the old normal, and we’re very much being tacitly conditioned to live this, in such authoritarian ways, covid or not. Not only does it help them mask and palliate the drastic gasoline shortages, it keeps us docile and afraid.
That doesn’t mean that their impending electoral charade is suspended, quite the opposite. With hijacked opposition parties and a corrupt brand new electoral council we’re posed to have yet another rigged elections towards the end of the year, which will sweep away the last vestiges of the opposition from the legislative branch of power.
During the past month the regime has hijacked most of the opposition political parties to set the stage for a fraudulent legislative elections that will soon sweep the last nuisance in and one again, they will control all five branches of government (plus the supra-constitutional assembly they established in 2017)
Fierce quarantine aside, it’s not like you can simply sit down in peace and expect food to magically pop on your table. People need to go out and find whatever they can afford, even if it means ‘breaking’ the quarantine.
#11Jul Caraqueños continúan saliendo de sus hogares en búsqueda de alimentos. La periodista Andrea Espinoza (@soyandrea025) reportó desde el mercado de Quinta Crespo, en donde los ciudadanos incumplen las medidas de seguridad sanitaria #Caracas https://t.co/4Q8MDijeSC pic.twitter.com/XBCIP0y0hz— VPItv (@VPITV) July 11, 2020
With the majority of the country living in poverty, people need to go out and work, hoping for the best, and praying that they’re able to bring food for their families, because things have been, are, and will continue to be rough here.
The area where I live has plenty of commercial establishments, from vehicle repair centers, dentists, liquor shops, and others. Through the past years many have been forced to close their doors due to the collapse of the country and its economy. Many of the remaining stores around here haven’t been able to open their doors since March, and I don’t think they ever will again.
Much like last month, the quarantine is starting to get to me, and my psyche, not so much with regards to the sense of isolation that one can feel (since I’ve always been a social outcast), but the fact that my life activities have been reduced to a bare minimum, and I can’t suspend the passage of time.
There is so much paperwork I need to do, so much stuff I need to arrange and sort, and if you count the fact that I’m always continuing my efforts to obtain a visa for my brother and I—yet the airports continue to remain closed down and our passports are a ticking time bomb—the whole thing is just taxing my mind to its fullest, the stress and migraines are doing a number on me.
I need to chill and regain my focus, because it’s starting to affect not just my productivity, but my health as well, and that’s no bueno.
Corruption and abuse of power have always been stable elements of the Venezuelan reality, when you detach most of the ‘normal’ livelihood activity from the picture then it becomes even more evident—in cases such as the anecdote that follows:
During the first week of July I walked to a bakery that I don’t usually frequent in order to get some stuff, cue my surprise when I arrived and it was closed, way earlier than it should. The owner was outside the bakery, I asked what was up and he told me that FAES (the special forces branch of the Bolivarian Police) had forced him to close down earlier due to the ‘radical quarantine’.
Almost immediately, an older man next to me that had arrived on a vehicle brandished his Public Ministry badge, ‘suggesting’ the owner that he’d sell him some bread. The owner of the bakery refused, because he was threatened with jail should FAES see him with customers in the bakery at that moment.
I walked back home empty handed, at least I got to stretch my legs for a bit. I don’t particularly blame the guy, in the end, if you were in his position who would you comply with, the guys with the guns, or some obese guy with a plastic badge? Would you risk it just to sell bread to one single guy? Nah, don’t think so.
Such is the new Venezuelan reality.
On a more lighthearted note, even though I’m pretty much confined to this area of the city I managed to procure stuff for a nice, simple, but wholesome 25th birthday for my brother. Pizza, cake, ice cream, and the company of our younger cousins. It was a good evening between the four ‘outcasts’ of the family, we had a good time, and that means the world to me.
I may be stressed beyond my limits right now, living in a pseudo state of house arrest, but thankfully my brother and I are together, we’re safe, we have food on the table, and that’s what matters in the end.
I don’t know when this will be over, but there is one thing I can try to do, relax and focus on the things that I can control, such as continuing my work on Sword and my other projects, and hopefully get that visa so that I can put all of this behind and start a new life one day, sooner than later.
But man, having paused my life for so long does suck, time is fleeting, fragile, and precious…
Until the next one.