Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's day

It has been a rough week for your truly. On Monday I was mugged with all the problems that this entails for the rest of the week. And the week ends on Father's day, with a melancholy.

What happened Monday is that I was bringing supplies to the S.O. who is in the mid of a bad chemotherapy bout. I was cornered as I was getting out of my car by two motor bikes with two people on each. One of them a woman. I did not stand a chance, happy that they did not kidnap me, or steal my car or shoot me for sport.

The what they took me is not really the matter. My aging smart phone is gone (but for some luck of destiny the night before I had downloaded all the pics at home). My bag had some very personal valuable items that are of no use for them, except perhaps for the knife I always carry with me as the good Frenchman I am. The bag with the supplies they did not even look at it even though it had 5 liters of very precious milk and a brick of 50,000 bolivares that I bring regularly to the S.O. so he does not have to stand by cash machines or bank tellers where his weakness could make him an easy prey, with a probable fatal denouement if he were to be thrown on the floor in the scuffle.

Rather what the event left me was a profound thoughtfulness. I realize that I was in a hurry and not quite as careful as I usually am. That is, in Venezuela today you cannot make a single mistake because dark forces are always on the look out. Always.

I compared myself with the forest floor small rodent that needs to get out and scavenge for something to eat. That rodent needs to think about a lot of things before peeking out its den. There might be a wild cat close by. Maybe it will cross the path of soldier ants that shall make mince meat of it fast. If it needs to go near a clearing some bird of prey might pounce fast out of nowhere. Of course there are the silent slithering snakes.

Same thing for me, in particular the red snakes.

The rest of the week was a scramble to get some ID papers back, to cancel credit cards, change my passwords, to buy a new smart phone, an obligation in this country if you still have a job with some responsibilities.  I had to be exposed to what were a couple of bolibourgeois buying in front of me a golden Samsung S7 Edge priced 6 times more than the more modest Grand Prime that I had to downgrade to after my  stolen S3. That S7, for your information, is worth 100, ONE HUNDRED times the MONTHLY minimum wage in Venezuela.  I do feel already embarrassed to buy a smart phone which already costs 18 minimum wages, but I have no choice if I wanted a screen big enough to read who calls me without glasses (another security concern). At any rate, the cheapest of smart phones start at 10 minimum monthly wage. So there, 17 years of chavista equality down the phone drain.

This morning I was hoping to find some solace. The S.O. informed that he was starting to recover a little. I was safe at home, café au lait in hand (a luxury by itself) reading the weekly Tal Cual edition which had a special father's day issue. And a sad one as it focused on the broken families that cannot celebrarte such dates together because of emigration. The most conservative estimates give 1.5 million Venezuelans gone into exile since Chavez was elected. Apparently there are Venezuelan communities registered now in 96 countries, from the mighty half million in the US to a few dozens in Podunkistan.

And I started thinking about those of my family and friends that have left. For a while my close family did manage to stick together, but that is not true anymore, and it is about to get worse. My parents are now unable to come back to Venezuela for medical reasons. They could travel, yes, but they would not get the adequate care they need here, never mentioning that they cannot stand in line for food. For the third year in a row a phone call had to do, and them calling me since now there is no more direct calling to Europe. See, Venezuela state phone company is so broke that the regime has decided to go back to operator assisted calls to most countries so it can charge more. Private mobile phone companies have simply stopped offering the service. and you need to dial dozens of time until an operator answers.

But I digress, the point is that I cannot have my old parents anymore here, limiting myself to a yearly visit, as long as possible. But this summer I am losing two nephews who are graduating from high school and whose sad parents have to accept the financial sacrifice to send them overseas for college even though they have been accepted at one of the last decent private universities still operating in Venezuela. It is quite possible that they may never come back to Venezuela except perhaps for a brief Christmas stay as long as the parents still live here. My other nephews will follow the same path starting in a couple of years from now for the older one still here. Maybe in 5 years from now we will have all left.

That Maduro may fall this year does not change much the situation, the country has become a pit of red snakes.


  1. Damn, the black dawg's are running hard.
    Get your SO, your cash and get thee to France, Le Tour is nigh.

  2. I see the Chinese, before renegotiating with the regime a principal free debt payment strategy, are meeting with the opposition to ensure that their debt will be repaid. I wonder how the opposition will handle this? Saying no will result in greater support from Chinese to keep the regime in place. Saying yes results in no change and the Chinese giving better terms. Obvious answer should be to say yes with terms resulting in helping remove Maduro.

  3. Daniel is it possible these people were tipped off that you had certain supplies? I mean from the store you got the milk or from the bank you got cash?

    1. They did even search have that bag.

  4. Anonymous4:59 PM

    Depressing. This is how Mugabe kept power, everyone with half a brain left, and the remaining masses were servile (and thin) enough not to unseat him. :(

  5. Your comparison, to feeling like a rodent always on the lookout, was neat. How you can survive in that atmosphere is amazing? I suppose one gets used to the situation and adjusts, but its got to be extra hard for a thinking person.

    1. I used to live that way when I was in Venezuela. But I never ever let down on my edginess. My main problem was getting my family to up their game to a high enough level. Quite a few times I had to get into a fight with them because I refused to stop at a given place, wouldn't wait for friends being picked up even if they were only one block away, forced them to reverse directions, cross streets, enter stores they didn't like, sit at inconvenient tables near the rear of the restaurant, made them abandon routines, go late, changed routes at random, etc.

      By the way, I carried two wallets, two phones. The wallet I was willing to give up had old expired credit cards, and fake IDs. The phone to be stolen was an ok prepaid Nokia. And I carried $200 in USD to make sure they didn't get pissed off. But I never did get approached or robbed. I guess I was lucky.

  6. Glad you are unharmed.

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Please, repeat your interesting comment without any personal data. Thank you.

  8. I have a simple question. Why the HELL are you still there? Aren't you a dual citizen? Come back to the U.S.

    1. Why do anonymous and unknown see emigration as an easy option? It is not.

      There are myriad of reasons why one must stay until the bitter end. One, for me, is that the SO has all his family here, in particular a relative he must take care of. Also, at my age, where am I going to start again? I need to wait a few more years until I can retire in France. Yes, I am dual citizen but of France, not the US. Amen of the SO who does not speak english and could not start any job unless full health coverage is offered, without pre existing. Then again courtesy of Obama we could maybe work out something there, as long as Hillary is elected.

    2. Anonymous11:37 PM

      France not the US ... whoosh we dodged a bullet.

    3. "courtesy of Obama we could maybe work out something there".

      Spoken like any good chavista waiting for a handout from the dear leader.

      What do you expect from Obama? Do you think the United States is run like your Venezuela, or you want it to be because it would be convenient for you?

    4. Anita if you followed Daniel's blog you would understand, but if just tuning in for a quick read you do not. Daniel is an entrepreneur not a Chavista, but your tone and chastising of him would suggest you are a Trumper, who would have gladly stolen 300+ billion as Chavez regime did under the cover of pretending to care for the poor.

    5. Anita5:32 AM

      "you are a Trumper, who would have gladly stolen +300 billion ..."

      What are you talking about? Where did I mention Trump? Why are you comparing Trump with Chavez? This is incoherent and you probably think you are very smart. Keep watching MSNBC, thank g.d you are in canada, please stay there.

    6. Anita

      Whoever you are, you are I'll informed and do not know how to read properly.

      My S.O. has a deadly cancer and only through Obamacare as a political refugee we could consider going to the US. We would certainly not go there to hang out with people of your ilk. So be assured we will not go there to suck your precious tax dollars unless we had no other option, for as much as I personally love the US.

    7. Anita, I thought my points were quit clear and didn't need explaining. However, your hostility towards Daniel and touchiness over Trump suggests you have issues, so I will leave you alone.

    8. Anita5:56 PM

      Of course you would consider going to the US to get the best health care for free, who wouldn't????

      And who do you think would be paying for your "free" healthcare? People of my "ilk", that's who!

      You are welcome.

      Political refugee my ass. A political refugee flees to the nearest safe country but you pick the country that would give you the best goodies. And then you ruin it.

      If this is not the thinking of your typical chabestia

    9. Anita

      You definitely have deficient reading skills. Since you need things spelled out, when I will be forced to leave Venezuela it will for France for which I hold a passport, and which is less encumbered with assholes like you.

    10. Anita2:55 PM

      I come back from sending the kids off to camp in New Hampshire, beautiful morning, all is quiet and I'm alone having a nice cup of coffee, just Folgers French Roast nothing fancy, start browsing reading primarily about Brexit and then I find myself called an a**hole and accused of deficient reading skills.

      For what?

      For reading the following "...through Obamacare as a political refugee we could consider going to the US.".

      Did I read that incorrectly? It is still there in black and white a couple of posts up.
      Yes! you also said you would go to France because you already have a passport, but you said you would consider coming to the US, didn't you?

      So if you come to the US on the phony excuse of "political asylum", to get Obamacare with a serious pre-existing condition you will be -as you so delicately put it- be "sucking my precious tax dollars".

      You know why? Because you are going to be put on MedicAid and pay next to nothing for very expensive treatments and you will be taking out a lot more than you will ever put into the US system.

      You would be coming here to take advantage of the system. That is what I mean when I say that your actions are identical to the actions of a typical chavista: take advantage of the system any way you can.

      It doesn't seem to matter to you if millions like you eventually wreck the system, but it matters to me.

      Look I am really sorry about your situation, you must be stressed out as you "scrounge for your next meal" as Dylan would say, so about that insult?, let's just forget it.

  9. Well, unfortunately a few of the good guys are forced to stay in such a chaotic country. A place where even medicines are tough to get. I still have a few good friends there, and feel sorry for them. They have jobs and their entire families still there.But they risk their lives everyday, plus they have to stand in line for food..

    I'm just glad I was able to get the hell outta there a long time ago, with all of my family members. I do miss the Avila, Choroni, Morrocoy, la Gran Sabana, and many other things very much (pollos chez Hermanos Rivera, for instance).

    Stay alert, be safe.

  10. And the thing is that things in Vzla are not about to get better, at all, anytime soon. Any year soon. Heck it's gonna continue to be a mess for decades. There is no magical cure for the economy or crime after Chavismo falls, and the MUD takes over.

    The economic measures required to fix the economy are too tough, and would take a long time time take effect. Start with raising gas prices, free the market, no price controls.. massive inflation will continue. Then you would have to restrain corruption, which is everywhere, not just on the government. That would take purging the polizia, the guardia nazional, the filthy military bosses, and the TSJ. A Herculean task. Won't happen in decades. And it would take real education for the "pueblo" in general, because they are vastly ignorant, and vastly corrupt as well, everywhere. It takes a justice system that works. Lots of people going to jail, including white-collar crooks.

    Under the Muddy MUD none of that will happen. Half of them are probably bribed by the Chavista regime already, if not more. The only way out is another type of authoritarian regime, unfortunately, one that steals much, much less, and builds something. (a lot) Yes, a Perez Jimenez or a Pinochet is what the doctor ordered for Cleptozuela. For a while. Or it's gonna be the same mess forever.

    1. I think even though a full recover will take a lot of time a lot could improve quickly. For example immediate medical aid could be sent in from around the world as well as food for the starving. Programs could be put in place to get the farm land back in to production and massive oil company investments could employ people and bring in much wealth and economic development. Ideally the USA could assist to recover 10's of billions of dollars and all the military toys could be sold for billions more. The currency issue could be immediately fixed. Although all will be slow to recover any improvement will seem huge to people who have been suffering so bad. The real key is to get a competent leader in place who cares more about the country then themselves, something Venezuela and most of the world has not seen and hence will be difficult. The drug lords are ingrained into Venezuela and as we seen in Colombia are very difficult to remove.

  11. Finally, no one hardly mentions this, but 90% of the best, better educated professionals left the country long ago. Most of the readers of these blogs, for instance. You know who you are. Gone. 1.5 Million is my estimate since in the past 2 decades.

    Massive Brain- Drain for a country with just 30 million people, most of whom are very poorly educated, if at all. Result? The government is full of stupid bastards without an education. And corrupt, on top of that. And that will continue under any MUD government. The best of the best are gone. And continue to leave, first chance they get. Very few good, honest, bright, educated workers are left. Sadly, Vzla is doomed for a long time.

    1. This will be the biggest struggle to recovery without question. How many of these people will want to return if they have a better life elsewhere. Many successful ones may look to invest in Venezuela to help employ family etc.

    2. Most of us will never return to live in Vzla. We have built new lives elsewhere, where its much safer, and everything works. The Brain Drain is final. I bet not even 5% will ever dare to return to such a high risk, messed-up country. And those few would only do that for money reasons, if they find some business deal. And temporarily. You don't want to get killed for a pair of shoes in the street any day. You don't want to put your children in some mediocre school, where they can also get kidnapped. We'll stay in Europe or Chile or the USA, rest assured. Because even if Vzla got back to be what it was in the 80's, it was not that great. And it won't get back to even that. It's getting even worse, and the MUD will not be able to get it much better at all. Because the "pueblo" are mostly complicit crooks, thieves and murderers too. Not all, but many of them, at all levels. Not to mention the politicinas, including the MUD. Crooked, rotten. Vzla se jodio, y pa largo rato.

  12. I, for one, am glad you were not harmed or injured. To others it is easy to say, "Why don't you leave?", but it isn't because of family and your SO whom you very much love. Do what you need to do and try to find some peace when you can please.

  13. Daniel,

    I am so sorry to hear of your mugging--that is always a blow to the psyche. You seem to have digested the horror of it well enough, though. I am horrified at the self-righteous Anita. Please know, Anita, that this US citizen would be very happy to have Daniel come here with his SO. I know he lived and worked here once, and so he has paid income taxes. I am glad he has France as a choice as well. But it is his personal prerogative to stay wherever his loved ones are. One can never make those major, complex life decisions for another person.

  14. Anonymous11:18 PM

    I have a friend who was born in Chile. Her parents emigrated to Venezuela when she was young after Pinochet took over. They did very well. She went to college and has had a great career. She has lived surrounded by middle-upper class, educated people. She is dismayed at what happens in Venezuela these days. Yet, her political views are exactly those that led Venezuela to the place it is now. I dare to say that most Venezuelans living in Venezuela are like that, just like I was. It is not until after you live in another stable country for many years that you start realizing that... sh#t, I caused that


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