Revolutions come with shifts in culture and language. Political movements often bring new words to the table, and after 21 (soon to be 22) years of Bolivarian, Socialist, anti-imperialist, and profoundly Chavista Revolution, we’ve sure had plenty new additions and changes to the Venezuelan lexicon.
The past years have changed us, without exception. The hardships inflicted upon our people as a consequence of the collapse of an ideological project, the improvisations, the struggle for survival, the political landscape, they can be reflected upon the words and terms added over the past two decades.
This is going to be a personal look at some (but certainly not all) of the words and terms that have spruced over the past years. Some of these have been coined at the face of absurdity and adversity, some are blasts from the past that have faded away over time, others have endured the passage of time, and some are newcomer neologisms of the neo-culture of post-collapse Venezuela.
Let’s have a look at some of these:
Your angel, or your devil, a hallowed savior, or a wicked sinner. This term comes from the Atta Laevigata leaf cutter insects, and its used to refer to people who would smuggle, contraband, flip, scalp, or resale products — namely those that were extremely hard to find during the worst years of our shortages, such as oil, flour, milk, or even toilet paper.
For a time, it was the most booming and profitable profession in Venezuela, more than any professional career even. Everyone had one in their contacts list, as their services, while often costly, would often be worth the price of not having to hunt these items in long and eternal queues.
As the regime eased regulations and the availability of products improved, the need for these men and women lessened. Some have become legitimate sellers, while others moved on to their lives.
One of the latest expressions of our neo-culture. With import taxes reduced and/or outright waived, people have gone onto setting up “Bodegones”, stores that sell imported snacks and goods straight from the United States (inb4 muh sanctions).
It’s been the flavor of the month money making scheme in Venezuela for some time, or at least, before the ongoing COVID quarantine period. Import some M&Ms, cereal, candy, et al. charge USD for them as if they were some sort of luxury products, easy money, as they say.
People will actually have the audacity to tell you that things have improved here because there’s stores of these kind in almost every street (as if someone was laundering money, shh), you’re not going to solve the hunger and malnourishment of those most impoverished with a jar of Nutella that they can’t afford in the first place.
To claim that all of these businesses are simply fronts to launder narco-money would be irresponsible of me and I’m sure some of these come from legitimate capital and entrepreneurship.
A bubble, all in name, these Bodegones are an ephemeral mirage that some have chosen to cling to, if only to have a taste of that ‘normal’ life of the North. Import all the chocolates you wish, all the cereals and cookies that you can afford — they do not mask the crumbling electrical grid, the water shortages, the precarious public health system, the gasoline shortages, the hunger of those that barely earn $3 per month.
A dead currency that can’t be given proper rest out of a legal obligation, as it is, despite its worthlessness, the country’s legal tender.
The currency was resurrected in 2018, and it was already limping on its last legs before it’s first year anniversary. I’ve had the (mis)fortune of having lived through three iterations of the Bolivar so far, all killed by inflation. Today, there are not enough Bolivar banknotes left, and the ones that exist are barely useful, a shortage made worse by the ongoing quarantine.
In essence, the bolivar is a digital currency now, its existence held together just as before: by debit cards, wire transfers, and p2p payments.
Bolivarian Bourgeoisie, you know, the thing Socialists said you shouldn’t be because it’s bad — except when it’s them, which makes it good. Bolichicos (Bolikids) is a subset of the Boliburguesía, young sons of socialist politicians/people in cahoots with the regime that made a huge bank out of bleeding our country dry through shady contracts and whatnot.
Don’t forget though, being rich is bad.
An actual peaceful form of protest that doesn’t involve burning your city down. It basically consists in banging empty pots and making noise. While it’s not something we invented, it’s something that became ingrained with our culture over the past two decades.
The first time I remember this word being used was either in 1999 or 2000. My grandma let me bang a pot and make some noise, I was 11-12 at the time, of course I wasn’t going to say no. That being said, after twenty one years of pot banging, I can safely say that you shouldn’t expect to overthrow any regime through it . . . or perhaps we should’ve banged harder, who knows . . .
The regime’s mandatory broadcasts, every national television and radio channel is forced by law to interrupt their normal programming and air them, lest they risk getting shut down.
If you don’t have cable TV here then you either turn the TV off, or suffer through it — the choice is yours.
The beast that heralded the beginning of the end of our economy, the regime’s double edged sword that destroyed our currency while filling the pockets of others.
Since 2003 we were placed under a fierce currency control exchange, overseen by the Comisión de Administración de Divisas, (Commission for the Administration of Currency Exchange). Under this control, people could request a yearly allowance of foreign cash to travel, or to use through their credit cards for electronic payments, at a fixed exchange rate — and for a time, everyone was happy.
Some actually requested their “Cupos” for the intended use, while others traveled to neighboring countries to ‘scrape’ these allowances in specialized places that would accept your card, swipe it for an amount, give you the money in cash, and keep a commission.
These were golden times where the Venezuelan tourist was loved and accepted by every Latin America country, such as Peru. Now that we’re nothing but poor job-taking migrants well . . . the love is over.
As with all systems and bureaucratic forms of control, it became extremely corrupt, to the point that it became a legitimate irl form of money duping. The yearly allowances were severely reduced over time as the country ran out of money, and CADIVI was replaced by CENCOEX (National Center for Foreign Commerce).
Regardless, the billions that the regime officials stole from the country is far, far more than the money people ‘stole’ from their yearly foreign currency rations.
The only fault Maduro has, according to him.
Imperialism, but Good, unlike America’s. I, for once, welcome our new Chinese overlords.
You see, it’s ok if China (and Russia/Turkey/Iran) are bleeding us dry of our natural resources and riches, so long as it’s not the evil US Empire.
The people’s hunger, weaponized. It’s a program that started in 2016, right as the country faced dired shortages and food was hard to come by.
The gist is that the regime sells these boxes (sometimes bags) full of heavily subsidized products to people, some of which are often imported. The reality is that the quality of the products is very poor, and the whole system is corrupt to its core, those involved have been filling their pockets through the years.
LA DERECHA™ / THE RIGHT™
Everyone within 0.00001cm of the regime in the political spectrum is part of THE RIGHT™.
According to the regime, every single bad thing that has happened, is happening, or will happen in Venezuela is THE RIGHT™’s fault.
Are your cholesterol levels too high? THE RIGHT™ did it.
You stepped on a Lego? It was THE RIGHT™ that placed it there.
You overslept and are now late for work? THE RIGHT™ turned off your alarm clock.
Your wife cheated on you? Yup, it was THE RIGHT™.
The Venezuelan opposition are center-left at best, and some of them are part of the International Socialist? Nah, they’re THE RIGHT™.
THE RIGHT™ comes in many flavors, such as the ULTRA RIGHT™ and the DERECHA MALTRECHA™.
Ironically, the one thing keeping this country together after socialism destroyed it happens to be capitalism.
For a time, it was illegal for us to trade or even hold foreign currency, it was even illegal to talk about black markets and exchange rates that weren’t the official ones. Now? Who cares, the regime’s so starved for that capitalist money that they’ll let you do whatever so long as they get some. They tried to part ways with it through the Chinese Yuan, the Russian Ruble, or even the Indian Rupees, but no matter what, it all goes back to Uncle Sam.
Since 2018 we’ve been living through a pseudo-dollarization, it’s the driving force of pretty much every transaction here, stores openly set their prices in USD (a few years ago they would’ve been jailed for even daring to do such a thing).
Having access to cash USD let’s you brute force and bypass many of the hardships of post-collapse Socialist Venezuela, water cisterns, power plants, better internet, everything, really.
While it’s no longer illegal to have and pay with foreign cash, you can’t save it on banks, and things are still rather cumbersome. Coins/pennies are rarely accepted, and people are extremely anal about the quality of the greenbacks, often refusing to accept ones that have slight wear and tear — it’s not like we can get them replaced at a bank like in America, and i’m sure a banknote that’s not acceptable here is perfectly fine in the US.
For a time, it used to be the regime’s boogeyman, whom they blamed for ‘destroying the economy’. It’s just a reference website for black market foreign currency rates that has seen better days, as it’s nothing but a clickbait website now.
An enchufado (plugged in) is the end state of a Venezuelan Socialist Party member and/or person who aspires to do business with the Regime.
To be an enchufado means that you are part of the caste of men and women who benefit from the regime in one way or another, more specifically via huge financial benefit, be it through some juicy contract or high ranking position.
Others simply want to be plugged in through the ‘status’ that comes with a public office position, going as far as to ignore the fact that they’re being paid a slave’s wage so long as they can boast about being Director of X in a Ministry of People’s Power or whatever.
The term “Enchufado” was coined by Henrique Capriles Radosnky, an eternal failure of a politician that is part of Venezuela’s opposition and now wants to become its leader once more, even though he’s failed over and over again.
This contribution to our neo-culture is perhaps, his greatest accomplishment in life.
Of all the terms coined over the past two decades, this is the one that has passed the test of time completely unscathed. It was coined by Supreme and Eternal Commander Hugo Chavez way back in the day.
An Escualido (Scrawny) is basically everyone who opposes the regime, even if you’re not part of the opposition.
According to the revolutionaries/socialist/communists here, the “Escualido” suffers when the revolutionary forces are ‘resisting’ Imperialism, as if their lack of power, water, toilet paper, health, and food will somehow make the “Escualidos” yield.
You’re most likely an Escualido if you slightly disagree with the regime’s figureheads, btw.
A light in the darkness of Venezuelan bureaucracy. These are men and women inside Venezuellan public offices that will expedite things for you, be it a passport, an apostille, or any type of document . . . for a price.
Bachaqueros share a genetic lineage with Gestores, and unfortunately, they are at times, a necessary evil.
A more active form of protest, often involving the blockade of streets. Over the past years, men and women have protested against the regime, many have given their lives while doing so, all in the name of freedom — and they always end up being quelled by the opposition leadership itself, preserving the status quo that’s good business for some.
A term of a simpler time, it was Hugo Chavez’s nickname for George W. Bush.
Watching Chavez wage a one sided tilt tirade at Mr. Danger was kinda funny back in the day, calling him all sorts of things while denouncing the Middle Eastern conflicts of the time — conflicts that made Venezuela rich until they stole all that money for themselves and their pals.
Watching Maduro call Trump ‘DONAL TROON’ just isn’t the same.
Not a term that was or is often used during a normal conversation, however, for certain neighbor countries who I will not mention, it was a slice of the oil cake too irresistible to pass.
This program offered cheap oil to many caribbean countries at very low prices and near zero interest rates, some even had up to 40 years to pay for it. You wanna know why these countries were happy with us being the way we were, and silent with the atrocities committed and human rights violations over the past years? It was because programs like this.
Influence (and silence) for cheap oil, that’s how they did it.
Petit Yankee. Hugo Chavez also coined this one, and boy, he sure loved to use it, to the point that it became overused. Basically, his way of calling you a USAboo. The opposition tried to reverse this by playing the same game, calling the regime and its officials “Piticubano”, but their version had way less effect, and was rapidly vanished.
Pitiyanky is still used here and there, and I guess you could call the regime Pitichino now or something along those lines.
The final form of a Venezuelan prison inmate. A PRAN (Preso Rematado Asesino Nato) is a warlord that operates from within their respective prison. Weapons, drugs, extorsion, organized crime, they do it all, their influence isn’t limited to the walls of the prison, where their word is law.
Heck, some of them even have pools and their own nightclubs inside their prisons.
The term became well-known in 2011 after a war between two Prans and the national guard erupted in one prison, one of the Prans escaped (had enough time to post a picture of his exit hole on Facebook and all), and was eventually captured.
A safe passage document, in these times of quarantine, having one of these is indispensable, as it grants you safe passage between districts/cities/states. You get one of these if your work demands it, or if you know the right person.
Of course, you can always get one . . . for a price.
You don’t have one? You’re of a lower caste then, confined to your parish like I am right now.
Tl;dr: it is.
What Venezuela is, what it used to be but then it wasn’t the ‘real one’ when it stopped being convenient to certain narratives. What some still say to this day that is ‘still being built’ here.
I’m too mentally broken and worn out by all that’s happened here over the past years to care about engaging in epic debates with supporters of this ideology on social media, be it larpers or genuine adherents of it.
What you need to understand is that a lot of atrocities have been committed under the Fatherland plan and the promise of Bolivarian Socialism. It will soon be 22 years of this never ending nightmare, and a large bulk of the 30 something million Venezuelans that exist have been severely traumatized by the regime’s actions and by this ideology.
In times past, this word was an acronym for Colombians that lived/worked in Venezuela. Now, the term has morphed into a sort of pejorative word to refer to Venezuelans, especially those who have migrated. Don’t forget that ours is the biggest migrant crisis in the region (and second only to Syria), that big of a migratory phenomena is something that doesn’t go well with everyone.
Some, more sensitive and ‘progressive’ minded Venezuelans outside these borders have begun to be offended by this word on behalf of all of us, going as far as to say that it is the equivalent of saying the N-word to a Venezuelan, something that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Naturally, the bad actions of some is what has led to nationals of other countries to call Venezuelans as such (and other insults while a it), but to go as far as to be offended for being called Veneco? Come on, you and I know that ours is a culture that thrives on dark humor and political incorrectness, so don’t come at me with those first world sensitivities all of a sudden because you’ve been called a Veneco.
I personally use it as a sort of despective term to refer to people or aspects of our decadent neo-culture that I don’t agree nor ever have been part of. Being proud of your homeland is one thing (I am, and always will be, a proud Zulian), being proud of some beer and flour brand and conflating this to national pride, being obnoxious, wearing that goddamn accursed Venezuelan flag hat, the eternal ‘viveza criolla’, and being outright disrespectful of host nations is part of what I consider a Veneco.
This is a term worthy of its own discussion, another time for sure. When I finally made it out of here, don’t expect me to wear that Venezuelan flag hat.
The most powerful word for a Zulian such as myself, our signature ability. If you’re talking to a Zulian, the (swear) word Verga can mean everything, from a penis, the pencil in your desk, your remote control, a piece of computer hardware, the only limits are your imagination.
It can also mean an exclamation, an expression of astonishment or anger. To be able to use a single word for a plethora of emotions and every single object imaginable is what makes the art of Vergamancy absolutely sublime, and a fundamental part of my culture.
If you don’t let me say Verga then you’re erasing my culture, simple as that.
The digital pillar that’s helping hold what’s left of the country’s economy together. Much like cash USD, it’s a very preferred form of payment here.
If you happen to have access to Zelle, then you are among the highest castes of Venezuelans in this new reality of ours, considering that it is a service that not everyone has access to.
Mix it with a steady and constant access to cash USD and you unlock post-collapse Socialist Venezuela’s Super Brute Force Mode. You get access to more goods and services than any other human being here outside of the highest spheres of power.
The greatest land in all of Venezuela, where great heroes, beautiful women, and failures such as me have been born. Our flag pridefully boasts the sun that forged us, and the thunder of our unique natural wonder: The Catatumbo Lightning.
A paradise lost, Zulia is a land that has suffered greatly over the past years, broken and subjugated by this socialist regime’s neglect, with a crumbling electric grid where 18+ hour blackouts are the norm.
Zulia is my personal Amaurot.
Our own culture, our own cuisine, our own Spanish dialect, oil, agriculture, we never signed up for this country, we just got dragged along the way.
Dreams of seceding from Venezuela and becoming our own independent republic can be traced back to 200 years ago, and as much as the larp nationalists will hate me for this, I think we should enact this ancestral plan once and for all — we have suffered too much for too long, enough is enough.
Don’t tell anyone, but one of these days, after I leave this country, I will find the means to secede Zulia and reform it into Neo-Zulia. I will build a wall and make Caracas pay for it, and then I will drop an asteroid in Tach—
Oops, I got a little carried there. . .
I hope this pseudo informative and lighthearted post gives you a little glimpse into some of the Venezuelan neologisms and terms of recent times and from times past. I have been meaning to make something like this for a while, but I keep getting caught with the crumbling reality of Venezuela, it took me a few attempts to finish this, as my ADSL line is having some severe issues right now.
Until the next time!