Update: There is now a narration of this article courtesy of Finnigan Morris. Check it out below.
Venezuela, that little place in South America that once upon a time was a shining diamond in the region, a new start for many migrants following the devastation caused by World War 2, a prosperous place after the nascent oil industry around half a century ago. A place where many people planted the seeds of their hard labor to grow a good future for their children and family; a place blessed with unique wonders of nature, and gifted with abundant natural resources besides oil such as, gas, gold, bauxite, and many others.
That proud but humble nation, that little place that could’ve been so much more is over. It’s broken at an almost unfixable point—pack it up, and if you are the last person leaving, please turn out the lights.
Venezuela has been systematically destroyed by the regime’s ongoing and haggard socialist dream. An endless cycle coupled with a perpetual status quo cemented by both the Government and the current opposition leadership that has turned brother against brother, countrymen against countrymen, friends against friends, and even fathers against their own sons. The nation has been split in two by the sheer incompetence and shameless collaborationism from both the government’s radical left and the opposition’s center left camps, shattering everything in its wake.
This once nation of diamonds is now reduced to mere ashes and dust—an entire generation of Venezuelans are now deprived of a future within these borders; it’s going to take a decade or two to fix this mess, if we ever manage to be able to ignite a restoration process that is.
You see the entropy of this seemingly endless conflict reflected in the precarious state of our infrastructure; everything has collapsed: from water supply to electricity, access to food and health, education, transportation, telecommunications, Internet access, banking—everything; there is nothing that hasn’t been tainted by the absolute destruction caused by this Regime’s pursuit of the Supreme Commander’s utopia and their prideful refusal to step aside from power when everything serves as an evidence of their undisputable failure.
But there is one aspect of the destruction of our country that often goes unspoken: the damage it all has caused to each and every one of its citizens, and thus the damage to our society as a whole; the irreparable malady inflicted to those who have suffered the the worst consequences of this vicious lust for power and the vengeful implementation of socialism at the hands of the Venezuelan politburo.
Ours was once a proud and law-abiding society that knew how to laugh, how to play, how to enjoy life, how to work hard, how to respect your neighbors, how pray to God and be both grateful for his aid and fearful of his judgement. We always strived towards a better tomorrow, but this socialist tragedy has broken us in ways that we’re yet to properly measure, turning us into hollow husks that amount to less than what we used to be.
All of these constantly evolving hardships and ever-growing tribulations are like a knife that constantly slashes away our mental health, slowly flaying away pieces of our well-being; we don’t admit it most of the time, but we’ve collectively become bitter, angered, frustrated, exhausted, hopeless, and a whole array of other emotions that are piled on top of each other, we often drown in a sea of despair as everything around us continues to unravel.
Unable to change the collapse of everything that surrounds us, we’ve had no choice but to adapt and bend around each new hardship, to weather the storm and survive long enough until we’re finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel beyond these borders, but as we walk through this thorny and rocky yellow, blue, and red path we lose a bit of ourselves with each cycle.
Now, we are no longer Venezuelan citizens—but rather survivors, we only care about our survival and that of our friends and loved ones over anything else, because it’s the only pure thing that we have left in the end; it’s the feeling of powerlessness when gazing upon at the slow descent into chaos that will ultimately overwhelm you, no matter how resilient you were at first.
It’s a type of invisible damage to one’s entire being that can’t be seen with the naked eye but you know that it’s there, in some cases the overwhelming amount of stress this whole tragedy generates does accrue physical symptoms; you cannot touch the wound but you can feel the discomfort that emanates from it.
You cannot quite grasp its location on your body, but you feel it weighting down upon your shoulders every night—but you keep it all in check because despite the fact that everything continues to unravel around you, you remain resolute and refuse to give up against one of the purest forms of despair there is.
Then it manifests, because that despair is always awaiting for you patiently at the end.
It can manifest every time you go to a bakery and see a humongous line of people who, just like you, are only there with the hopes to find a loaf of bread (or the ever so popular Pan Canilla baguette) for their households; it can manifest when you’re in a large supermarket checkout line that’s understaffed, as most workers have quit due to the pointlessness of working for less than $2USD per month, it can manifest in an even more massive bank queue that you’re now a part of just to draw somewhere between 10,000-100,000 Bolivares that are only enough for a few bus rides at best (if you are lucky enough to find a bus ride given the dire state of transportation nowadays).
Perhaps it’ll manifest when someone tries to outsmart everyone else present whilst misguided and empowered by the eternal and infamous Viveza Criolla doctrine; and then you see all that negativity reach the fusion point in not just you, but those who have been victims of this transgression, which is followed by a verbal exchange that is often spiced with sardonic tones—then the coarse language kicks in as each side stands its ground until it sadly escalates into a brawl.
When you arrive at the fourth pharmacy in search for medicine for a family member only to receive the same “Sorry, we don’t have it.” response; when hyperinflation makes sure that you’re not able to properly feed your children anymore despite having more millions than ever in your bank account and you’ve lost count of how many times has your wage been raised, or when you arrive to your home after one of the worst days at your job and all you want to do is wind down and relax but you can’t because there’s a blackout and there’s also no running water.
The Passenger of Despair
In situations that are similar (but not limited) to the abovementioned—that’s when you feel the presence of that wound in your mind, a passenger in your psyche that reminds you that something is not right, that everything has broken, and that this is not the way that things are supposed to be.
It reminds you that this is not normal, not normal at all.
And then comes the bang, the explosion within; as you keep suffering through yet another messed up scenario that is merely but a symptom of the greater disease wrought upon by this Regime—the rage, the indignation, the frustration, it seeps through your eyes, through your mouth, through your hand’s gestures, you warp your visage to match the boiling cauldron of emotions that can’t be easily contained, and then you unleash it all.
Even myself am guilty of it a couple of times here and there, most notably when I almost got into a fight with a nurse who demanded my mom to get off the wheelchair she was using at the hospital because he wanted it back, a few days before she passed away.
All of the stress, all of the frustration, it starts to take its toll on you, that bitter and hollow husk that you’ve become starts to lash out in one way or another, your body suffers the effects of those negative emotions, and so does your mind; meanwhile that passenger of despair that lies within gets stronger with each passing day.
It reminds you that your life is no longer a normal one, that you’ve casted away all notions of normalcy and instead become a survivor, you ration your resources, you stockpile on what you can, and you let your survival instincts take the wheel when it’s time to outplay the Venezuelan situation, there’s no point in following rules when the government itself doesn’t follow them anymore. I suppose that no one stays completely good in this country anymore.
All you can do is dream and hope for a glimmer of normalcy here and there, but that is a fragile and ephemeral dream that easily slips away from your fingers.
The damage to children
This phenomena is not just limited to adults, children and teenagers are the ones most vulnerable in this socialist disaster; the future they deserved has been stolen away and crushed right in front of their eyes, they’ve stripped away of a healthy childhood, in some cases, deprived of education, of proper nutrition, deprived of dreams.
I can only wonder just how much does all of this has truly affected the mental well-being and development of this nation’s children’s, as the large majority of them are being raised in dire circumstances that are far from acceptable, some of them are now forced to scavenge through garbage just to find something to eat—even though the now Supreme and Eternal Commander of the Revolution once said that he’d resign if there was a single stray child on the streets.
You can’t expect them to grow up and develop normally when the circumstances in Venezuela are far from normal, to be decent adults in the years to come when they are being nurtured through the early years of their lives by the nation’s most indecent times.
One’s youth years are fundamental pillars in shaping who they will be as an adult; to grow up in an environment where acquiring food through contraband is now the norm, with a rampant hyperinflation, where everything just simply doesn’t work anymore, where crime is out of control and no one trusts the authorities anymore, and with a grotesque government media machine that presents a false reality whilst continuously attempting to indoctrinate them through several means—that’s something they never deserved.
For some parents, taking their kids to school is no longer a possibility, because they simply no longer have the resources to buy their uniforms, textbooks, food, etc.
The dwindling hope for a better tomorrow
The material damage incurred to this nation can be mended easily with time and hard work, but the collective damage to our psyche well, we’ll have to see about that; generations, both past and present, have been heavily affected by it all.
I hope that the future generations get to live in a better Venezuela, one that doesn’t repeat the mistakes that gave birth to this nightmare.
But not all is doom and gloom, beneath the debris and crumbling ruins of our society, beneath the piles of our now beyond worthless cash, and obscured by the sea of anger and the storm of frustration that torments us around these parts, beneath all the justifiable despair that we collectively feel as we continue to descend through this infinite downward spiral there is still a faint hope.
There’s still fragments of what we were, shards of what we used to stand for, splinters of what Venezuela used to be.
Beneath all the anger and rage that often manifests when faced against the ruination of it all, you still see moments of camaraderie, you still see the friendship and cheerfulness that used to characterize us as people.
There’s still people, be it organized groups or simple individuals, who are out there, trying to do good in a place where there’s no reason to do so anymore. You still see people helping each other, strangers aiding other strangers, because we know that we’re all suffering through this—some in more extreme cases than others.
It’s becoming a rarer sight as of late but that precious spark is still there, it must be preserved because it is what remains of us, and what little remains of us can still be saved.
You still see the laughs despite having no reasons to laugh at all anymore, because no matter what happens, we know how to smile and joke about ourselves, to laugh at our own struggles and our own adversities (even though all of my jokes are cries for help), that genuine joy is what keeps that seemingly invincible passenger of despair at bay.
Perhaps a day will come, when this is all over, a day when something or someone will collect all the shards of what good remains in Venezuela and reforge them into a new one, a better one.
We owe it to those that will come after us, to rebuild that which has been destroyed, but it will take an insurmountable amount of work, better start ASAP, right?
If only it was that easy though.