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.