Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy 2014, for those who can reasonably aspire to better times

I am sorry but I cannot be much cheerful this beginning of year. Not that I am usually cheerful on New Year's day. After all, decades ago I realized that on January 1st we had the same debts, the same health problems, the same emotional issues than on December 31, plus a possible hangover and maybe more debts if you hosted a party.

This year this is quite true, and even more so. Except that I could not host nor attend a party, so there is no hangover for yours truly. There would be no sincerity in wishing a happy New Year for people in Venezuela. The odds for a better 2014 than 2013 for Venezuelans, chavistas or not, are, well, close to 0.  Only readers in Europe or North America, with an economic crisis somewhat less intense, have reasonable hopes of some improvement in their lives. To them, my sincere wishes for the New Year. For thus of us in Venezuela, the only think I can wish them for is strength to endure what is coming our way.

2013 has been a rather hard year for me.

Many family problems, related to health issues, including the loss of an important relative in November.  My S.O. suffered emergency surgery and his recovery is not going well because that surgery led to the aggravation of another unrelated problem he had. Unfortunately since Venezuela is closed for business from mid December to mid January we have to wait for the third week of January until all doctors are back and all laboratories analysis are open to finally asses a real treatment plan, maybe a new minor surgery. Right now there are only a few pills available, some physiotherapy, to keep the situation stable. Woe is you if you fall prey of serious diseases after December 1 in Venezuela.

Business wise, after the retroactive devaluation of last February and a likely one in the next few weeks, the only thing I can be thankful for is that I  have no personal debt. The paradox is that of all my end of year legal payments I have still some stuff left because there is simply nowhere to go and spend the cash, not even to fancy restaurants as the S.O. cannot accompany me...  Forget about savings which even if they pay 8% they pale badly with an inflation officially close to 60%.

Personally all of this has taken quite a toll on me, from the stress of living in a country where all is difficult to the problems for my loved ones around.  In spite of some wonderful support, dealing with the extraordinary difficulties to have anything done here, from taking a patient to see a doctor to perform a bureaucratic prowess to get some license to be able to work, you reach the December break all worn out.

I acknowledge a certain bitterness.  Not a sick or sickening bitterness, rather an aggravated cynicism that I am afraid has been reflected in my blog in the past couple of years. No more intellectual constructs or pseudo profound meditations which are now useless, a past time for observers from the other side of the fence. I only care about expressing what a real hell hole this country is becoming and how trapped we feel we are. People like it or not, people believe it or not, people think I exaggerate or not, people think I am constructive or not, I do not care much, truly. But the will to fight is there. This is a dictatorship and I must fight it. Period.

Still, I need to take some pause to think about how I must change my blog to reflect more that need to fight the dictatorship. At least I take comfort that chavistas have dropped any pretense of countering me: they know now, even if they approve of the regime.  What argument could they advance? Better pretend I do not exist, which suits me just fine. There is also a corollary about this phenomenon. There are less people asking about what is going on in Venezuela which is good because I have no patience for them either. If at this point you are unable to figure out on your own with the information available that Venezuela is a dictatorship, of a new type for sure but dictatorship anyway, then I do not want to spend time with you. My teaching years are over with the first decade of this blog. Yes, it has been this months 10 years that I started writing.

There is no rush to write anymore. Times are different. My effort in starting to write in Spanish, in trying to reach a bigger audience, is part of things I have been pondering for a while, for at least two years. But time and stress have been against me for the changes I had in mind.  Fortunately in a rash of inspiration I can leave you with two series of posts that you can keep reading for the next weeks. One is about 2013, what deep changes were imposed on us. The other is about the perspectives for 2014. I invite you to revisit these posts and discuss if you will. I will write less in coming days, because I wrote a lot though the last weeks and because I need to rest, I need to think about how to manage the blog, which for once this year did not drop to the historic low ratings I always gets the last two weeks of December. It does look that there is an awareness that Venezuela needs to be watched at all times...

Do not worry, I should keep writing at least once a week, if anything to write a newsletter of sorts. But through January I am going into some form of personal recovery, meditation, pondering mood.  A clearing up of the mind perhaps.

I wish to thank you all readers that have kept along with this blog over the years, in the thousands according to Google analytic in spite of the fudging of real statistics because of fake crawlers signs like vampirestat (do not dare to look for it! You may be sorry!) which make anyone believe they are the most read blog in the world and tempt to subscribe to some for of advertisement system. This blog has always been free of any advertisement though I am considering a pay pal system for a specific purpose but more on this later.

So there, my heartfelt thanks to all of you and my best wishes for 2014, regardless of reality.


  1. re: "maybe more debts if you hosted a party."
    Where I live in Denver, CO, USA most of the time, guests bring food and wine. So the host does not spend a lot of money.

    1. Wherever you are the host, if you want to be a good host, you will pay more than whatever pot luck is brought to you. If anything in cleaning up fees the next day when your carpet is all stained....

  2. 1979 BP11:37 PM

    Have a good rest Daniel.

  3. It's about twelve months since I discovered your blog, Daniel. If I didn't have a friend living in Caracas, it's doubtful I would have bothered to look. Only her accounts of Venezuelan life sparked my curiosity. You do a fine job and I hope you will continue for a while yet. Rest well, my friend. You deserve it.

  4. May your parents be well, Daniel, may your SO soon recover, and may you be able to travel in 2014, even if on business, and even if just to give your mind some respite from the institutionalized chaos.

  5. Daniel, I had to deal my uncle's disease during Xmast time in 2009. It was very difficult due to same reasons that you described. I am sure that now it is 100 times more difficult than in 2009. I hope your SO recovers very soon.

    Good luck and please hang in there...I know that everything is chaos, but please "no tires la toalla"

    Suerte en el 2014!

  6. Laura3:52 AM


    I am one of those readers....the thanks are mine/ours to you, for helping to make sense of the ever more pervasive madness which - like an oil spill - seems to be engulfing Venezuela. Chavez's death and with it the hope for an end to his dark opus, seems like a far away dream indeed. Given the realities for 2014, I wish for you and your loved ones much, much health. If there is anything that you need from US in the short term, please let me know! Got a friend coming from Vz in Feb and I am sending "stuff" para mi gente; have been doing so for many years now. It would be a pleasure to be able to do the same for you. Un gran abrazo, de quien no ha tenido el placer de conocerte en persona, pero te aprecia de todo corazon.

  7. Island Canuck12:46 PM

    Daniel, all the best for 2014.

    For those of us living day to day in Venezuela the prospects for this year look horrendous.
    The only option is to just keep moving foward.

  8. charly2:40 PM

    Daniel, all the best for the new year, despite the situation.

    Talking about the situation, we came back home yesterday and I had some small talk with a brother-in-law:

    - Charly, this year, 2013, I saw real changes in Venezuela, especially this month, hardly any celebration at all, people are kind of zonked by the political and economic situation. It is depression all over.

    - How come they still vote overwhelmingly for the PSUV?

    - You see, the vast majority of our population is uneducated. At 20-25 Bs per unit, chicken is really given away at Mercal. Since they have no better to do, they can start lining up outside the store at 3 am. So they keep voting for the PSUV despite the hardship.

    My comment: Since they have plenty of time on their hand, they have also plenty of it to mate and turn out little future PSUV voters.So we will all keep being depressed for a very long time. Happy new year to all.

  9. Anonymous3:02 PM

    Daniel, even fighters can some times be tired, and you are a fighter. Take your time and come again, we will continue following you like since many years. I send you this small part of a poem as a present. It is from Soledad Pastorutti:

    "Seguir siguiendo al corazón y coquetear con la intuición, seguir creciendo y esquivando las rutinas, seguir soñando en un rincón, seguir creyendo que hay un Dios que me endereza de un tirón la puntería. Siempre voy detrás de lo que siento, cada tanto muero y aquí estoy..."

    I wish you the best for 2014.


  10. Happy New Year Daniel ( as though we were turning some sort of page) or turning our eyes to the unknown ever glowing future so I ask myself if we will able to turn this page ?
    And I also wonder that if it is true what so many say that history repeats itself, if we ever really knew the past ?
    I am ashamed that so many doctors etc are traveling for such a long period of time leaving the sick to their own devices.These are the deceptively ' enchufados' and should be called on it.That page never seems to turn.


  11. The kind of things many outside of Venezuela would be interested in are general news of Venezuela. Your comments are mainly editorials - start making some posts that are more news oriented. Perhaps find some like minded individuals to help. And by all means, open an account where you can get donations to help maintain the blog and misc., related expenses. I personally would be interested in prices of commodities, news of people despite the hardship doing good deeds and of doing the opposite. Writing news items on occasion would probably be less of a trial given it requires less analysis.

    1. Joe

      I am not a journalist, there are newspapers for the news. My role as I understand it is to try to make sense of the news. They may sound like and editorial on occasion but they are analysis most of the time. Also, I am trying to keep a business afloat and that leaves me very little time to do "investigation" on people's lives. I can barely even cover mine.....

      If you want to have more economic oriented blog news I suggest Miguel Octavio my friend and colleague at the Devil's Excrement.

      As for people helping, well, I have tried that in the past. I am always open to that but I could not even find one for the Facebook page that I have not visited myself in at least a couple of months. The dedication that this blog requires is not available to all. It is not something I write to brag about, it is just something that one has inside or does not. As such, there is no merit.

  12. Best wishes Daniel. Your analysis is always insightful and keeps me abreast of the situation in the country. We left in September of 2012. We left my wife's family behind as well as our property. We miss still...big time. Even though I lived there for 12 years and I think I have a pretty good grasp of the culture, I still find it illogical that such people in the government would allow the country to sink and continue to sink so low. Very sad.


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