Thirteen months of the new normal, time for the first entry in ‘year two’ of the lockdowns. I took some pondering as to how to frame this post without making it too repetitive to previous entries, and I initially found that hard to do because quite frankly, it’s all the same down here.
In a general and broad sense, everything is just the same old stagnation. Venezuelan life today is characterized by our unique and endogenous blend of a collapsed and ruined country mixed with the limitations and nuances of a lockdown continues without change. Our personal rhythms and schedules are still dictated by the rather ineffective cycles of ‘radical’ and ‘flexible’ lockdown weeks.
No one generally cares about the inert opposition anymore, Juan Guaido’s presidency is but a self-sustaining joke at this point, and the socialist party continues to exert full political control in the nation. Skirmishes between the Venezuelan military and FARC dissidents have reignited our migrant crisis after the pandemic had drastically slowed it up to a crawl, and urban warfare between the Venezuelan police and armed bands is now bread and butter in the Cota 905 area of Caracas.
Everything else is the same: water availability is an erratic mess, power blackouts are a nightmare outside of Caracas, the seemingly endless gasoline lines are still there, and our economy is being hard carried by the US Dollar—greenbacks that, for the lack of a better word, have allowed people to shroud themselves in a flimsy and fragile bubble that isolates them from the abject misery, chaos, woes, and lockdown restrictions.
One thing I am keeping an eye on is the regime’s impending changes to our laws that will allow them to have the legal framework to further censor the internet and hinder social media access here. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when, my only hope is to get out of here before all that happens.
Now, when it comes to COVID-19, there is a very clear and distinct dichotomy between what is officially shown and what is not said by the regime’s media. Without access to untampered data, it is hard to quantify just how many cases and deaths there have been, even if you factor the surge in cases that the regime’s ‘official’ statistics have shown, it still falls short from what you see and hear in our hospitals and clinics.
It’s not a matter of being constantly afraid of the virus, it’s just that you don’t have the tools to properly treat it, not without proper access to healthcare, and without access to medication. With a collapsed public healthcare system, and a private sector that’s ever out of reach for many then it’s best to just take all the precautions you can take without letting oneself be consumed by paranoia and terror.
It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario. You always gotta factor the Venezuelan collapse to this pandemic.
The subject of vaccination remains a disastrous affair, and that might not be changing anytime soon. The Socialist party higher ups all got theirs, and that’s all that matters for them. Healthcare workers and elderly are indeed being vaccinated but at a snail’s pace. My dad, who is both, is on the list, and might be getting it soon—or so he told me. The small hospital he’s worked for most of his life is pretty collapsed right now, to the point that he’s had to assess autopsies and sign the corresponding reports through Whatsapp, the same goes for the classes he imparts to other med students.
As I’ve been saying, having access to foreign cash is what keeps you afloat here, and if you’re really desperate and for some inexplicable reason want or need the vaccine now then you can get it, for a price—something that has been cause of shock for many, but after all we’ve been through and seen over the past years of our lives, why would anyone be shocked that a black market for vaccines allegedly exists in this country? I mean, we’ve had one for flour, rice, toilet paper, meat, so…
On a personal level, the isolation has begun to take its toll on me after a year. It’s mostly because I do have a ticking time bomb on my passport and I have to get my visa before it expires, the passport extension rules were changed this month and this is it for mine, once the time is up that’s it for it. It’s been a mental rollercoaster and I am, after all, only human.
This was the second quarantined Holy Week that we’ve gone through, a few prayers, a couple candles, and a brief glimpse of the Nazarene of Saint Paul was the sum of what I was able to do during Holy Week. Seeing the Nazarene roam across the streets of Caracas and being able to see it for a brief moment through a window is a bittersweet and personal thing for me, because my mother prayed to him hours before she passed away, she was too frail to see him in person, so all she could do was watch him on tv on that ill-fated Holy Week of 2018.
It’s been quite the taxing month for me, both physically and mentally, nonetheless, I remain resolute, determined, and hopeful that things will unstuck and I’ll be able to get my visa before this year ends.
I’m sure the world feels bleak right now, and powers that be are content if everyone would just feel hopeless and demoralized, I sure have been feeling like that too.
But stand tall, remain resolute, the best is yet to come, I’m sure of it.
Stay safe, take it easy, and remain cool.
Until the next one,