Seven months of lockdown have come and gone, seven months wasted in this new normal life of ours, onwards to the eighth, and counting.
It honestly feels like my perception of time has been warped over the past seven months, they sure feel like an eternity. Venezuela continues to be trapped in a lockdown and a stagnant cycle of flexible and radical weeks of quarantine—as if it made the days less insipid.
Not much to say, really, it’s like we’re a living portrait, stuck in a moment and unable to break the loop. Although, the new noise, politically speaking, is our brand new Anti-blockade law that Maduro and his regime allege will counter US sanctions, but between you and me, it’s nothing but a legal instrument designed to sell whatever’s left of our country’s industries (including the ones seized and expropriated in the past) so long as it helps them get some cash to stay in power—industries and companies that mind you, were once profitable up until they were ran to the ground in the name of socialism and their Fatherland plan.
Beyond that, it’s been just another run of the mill month full of the same occurrences and woes that now feel like mundane parts of Venezuela’s neo-culture. There’s no gasoline left, our ongoing hyperinflation has begun to devour the foreign currency that’s circulating as part of this pseudo-dollarization that we now are part of, basic utilities are at its worst, simple things that you once took for granted are now a luxury, and our collective psyche keeps being chipped away little by little, with a growing number of protests carried out over the past weeks acting as flimsy escape valves.
For a country with two ‘Presidents’ we sure are orphaned citizens, whether you’re out of Venezuela’s borders or not.
Radical quarantine notwithstanding, the cases continue to go up and up, with 84,391 confirmed cases, 73,210 recovered, and 210 deaths. Again, and at the risk of sounding like a scratched record, these are the regime’s official statistics, contesting them within these borders bears a heavy risk, so their veracity is up to you to determine.
Things are pretty rough down here, and no amount of quarantine measures, narratives, and propaganda will deny that fact. I’ve managed to avoid getting hit by the full strength of all of the country’s calamities not because I can brute force my way out of it using foreign cash (which is something I don’t have access to), but because of luck and because of a sheer alignment of circumstances—that doesn’t mean that I’m not aware of how bad things are, and not a day goes by when I don’t pray and am thankful for our safety amidst the entropic reality of Venezuela and its ongoing collapse, that I get to provide food and safety for my brother.
I’ve avoided the drastic gasoline shortages all throughout the year simply because our mom’s vehicle is busted and is still slowly being repaired, I’m getting my hands on the spare parts at a snail’s pace, still need a few more things before it’s back up again.
Our water situation continues to be even more erratic than before. There’s been times where it hasn’t been cut at all, much to our surprise and joy. My suspicion is that it’s been left open simply because the people in charge didn’t show up to work, transportation can be troublesome when there’s barely any gasoline left. On the other hand, there’s been times where it’s been cut during days where it shouldn’t, so it’s just a zero-sum in the end.
Power has been flaky around here, and Caracas is no longer exempt from the constant blackouts that plague the rest of the country. I’m lucky if I go a day without a brownout or sudden rise in voltage.
And yet, even though nothing works the way it should, I am thankful that there’s still normalcy in our lives in spite of everything, as others have it far worse, again, not a day goes by when I’m not thankful in my prayers.
All this stuff isn’t new to me, it’s been years since our collapse started, so it’s all a natural part of my life—in fact, I feel uneasy when things are actually working right for once, goes to show how my psyche has been affected by it all, but oh well, it is what it is.
Now, the one thing, the one element of this quasi perpetual lockdown that’s really burdening my mind and stressing me to my breaking point is the fact that to this date airports are still shut down, and will continue to do so for at least one more month.
#Comunicado || Cumpliendo instrucciones del Ejecutivo Nacional, el #INAC informa la extensión de la restricción de operaciones aéreas por 30 días, desde este #12Oct hasta el #12Nov, de acuerdo al NOTAM C0864/20; así como el cierre de aeropuertos según NOTAM C0863/20 y A0383/20 pic.twitter.com/f3gaU6nvqI
— Instituto Nacional de Aeronáutica Civil (INAC) (@InacVzla) October 12, 2020
I don’t have my hopes up and I am already expecting airports to remain closed for the remainder of 2020.
Why is this such a big deal for me? Quite simple, the extension on my passport, which I can’t stress enough, was incredibly hard to get in 2019, is set to expire on April 03rd, 2021, that’s less than six months from now—once that day comes I won’t be able to board a plane here with it.
Getting a new one is impossible right now, the relevant offices remain shutdown as well, and the demand is rising, bribing my way to it is not something I was able to afford before, and much less if and when they open the floodgates.
I’m already planning some short-term alternatives and workarounds for what seems to be an inevitability in my life, including entering Colombia with my Venezuelan ID card and applying for our visas at the corresponding embassy there.
Under normal circumstances this passport is no longer valid to apply for a visa anywhere, as it is common international practice that passports must have a minimum validity of over six months to be submitted at an embassy or consulate.
The fact that certain countries are allowing expired Venezuelan passports for migration and visa application purposes is the only saving grace for my brother and I in all of this. It’s a relief amidst this nightmare, but there’s nothing I can do while the lockdowns keep the country shutdown. It’ll be tricky and convoluted for sure, but it’s all still doable, just another obstacle in this, my ongoing road towards a new life.
You know, this is something Venezuela’s ‘Interim President’ Juan Guaido should’ve addressed during these past 2 years of his inert and limp-wristed ‘rule’. There are over 5 million Venezuelan migrants scattered all across the world that have no way to renew their passports and thus, their right to identity is thwarted.
I worked at a consular office for a few years (ironic, yes), and I know that a human being that has no proper identification documents is not a proper person before the law. Had it not been for this worldwide pandemic and Venezuela’s lockdown, we would’ve surpassed the Syrian migrant crisis by now.
If I may be honest, this whole passport thing is disheartening. I worked so hard to get in in 2019 so I could apply for a visa and all, only to hit my head against a wall over and over, setback after setback, ultimately going back to the same spot that I was in mid-2018. This worldwide pandemic didn’t just add salt to the wound, it kicked me in the nuts and spit on my face while doing so.
This whole situation regarding the impending expiration of my passport’s extension, the seemingly perpetual closure of our airports (which I may add, is celebrated by the regime’s die-hard supporters as a good thing) is one of my biggest sources of distress and anxiety. The whole uncertainty around my future is prolly why my health hasn’t been in a good spot ever since this quarantine hit, there’s not a shortage of ways that this country has to exert its toll on your mental health.
Regardless of all this personal doom and gloom over things that escape my control, I remain focused on the things that I can control. Sword of the Nation’s Second Public Preview is just days away, and there’s some other great stuff in the works further down the road.
Another positive note—the best one, really—is that I’ve noticed that my brother is less fearful and anxious about this new COVID-19 reality of ours. Back when it all started he was really jittery and would get easily scared, he’d be close to panicking if I sneezed or coughed. Now he’s more confident in accompanying me to the supermarket, he’s smiling more often, and even more talkative with now and then beyond his basic monosyllabic responses.
He is the reason I can’t give up and must keep going forward.
Once again, I would like to end this Lockdown entry by hoping that you are all safe and sound out there, take it easy, and hope that normality has begun to return to your lives.
Until the next one