Sunday, October 04, 2015

2015: the lost year

It has been three weeks without posting. But in all truth what should have I written about?

That the regime has decided to become outright cruel, be it Leopoldo Lopez jail or the Colombian border disgraceful human rights abuses?

That new electoral cheating is performed?

That now criminal gangs are using grenades against police quarters, when grenades are supposedly exclusive property of the military?

That even Putin tries to explain to Maduro that the price of oil ain't going back up any time soon?

That Obama and the Pope and the West are only too happy to let Venezuela sink as long as it keeps financing a Cuban transition and an assortment of ungrateful shitty islands of the Caribbean?

That the Syrian refugee crisis is to be blamed squarely on the West for not assuming its full responsibility when it started applauding the Arab spring?

That Santos seem to have been defeated by the FARC and Cuba and chavismo when the battle was nearly won when he assumed power first, a victory where his participation was stellar?

You already get the hint that 2015 will be a lost year for a lot of people even though we are only on October 4.

That realization came to me a couple of days ago, that the regime had stolen from me 2015, that it has not allowed me to even try to achieve any modest goal. The year has been a constant reaction to try to deal with negative events in increasingly desperate situations.

I have been looking back and there is no joy, nothing positive for me.

The year has been spent in lines trying to find food and toiletries items and medicines, not even for me, but for my cancer stricken life partner (and other people when I can help). See, he cannot stand in lines for the hours required to acquire food. He cannot go to half a dozen of pharmacies in a row to try to find one that has the pain killer or the anti inflammatory, or the anti-whatever the doctors prescribe. Even nutritional supplements are hard to find and too expensive for his budget. That and other stuff I have had to start paying for, never minding that I have had to go to the black market prices because I also need to work and I cannot spend 2-3 days a week looking for stuff.

As if this ordeal was not bad enough, it has made me face to incredible cruelty of the regime, its immense stupidity to boot. See, those long lines under the sun are equal for all, a true socialist victory. Pregnant women, sick people, elderly with mobility problem, etc...  all have to stand in that same line, no consideration whatsoever for any one, starting with the people in the line that have lost any decency in their search for basic items. Eat shit and die is the message.

But there is insult to injury, true injury from what you can get above. I have seen or heard from reliable witnesses how the Nazional Guards or other forms of "authority" help themselves first, or let go ahead of the line their friends or take payment to allow you to do so. The abuse of power is more obvious, more cruel when such situations arise.

And more insult to the intelligence as the system is a mess of confusion and inefficacy.  Some items are by ID card end number, some items are "once a week", more and more stores demand finger prints from BOTH your thumbs, even if you buy, say, a bag of chips. That finger printing is ominous because it seems to be working better than anticipated even though lines to pay are twice as long as the process to pay is twice as long. The implications is clear: at any time through these machines the regime can restrict access to whatever it wants to restrict. And to whomever. Food apartheid in the making.

You may think that perhaps I can find solace elsewhere, like at work. But the situation is getting worse by the day. I have already detailed on occasion how difficult it is to manufacture things in Venezuela, to produce anything. The two main causes are the lack of raw material and the labor laws that not only make it hard to organize efficiency at work but are now creating havoc as you cannot fire the constantly missing workers that have to leave work to stand in food lines. Not that you would fire them anyway as you understand the situation but the "food shortage absenteeism" has become a source of new abuses.

There is also insult to injury. As your business is having a hard time to survive, you observe newcomers that seem to be quite prosperous. For example the Polar group is closing its detergent and soap plants due to lack of raw material. But there is a newcomer, "Clic", that is flooding supermarkets with pricey house cleaning items.  They even run expensive TV ads! How do they manage to get the raw materials to assemble their concoctions? Why are they the only brand with such a complete and well packaged line of products? Because the packaging of other products trying to replace Polar products is dismal, for low quality products to begin with.

And yet that is not all. There is a new plague on business. Once upon a time corruption was expensive but some forms were preserved. For example to get money out of you they would use catch phrases like "the dockets are loaded, but maybe we could find ways to speed up processing your application to X". Now they ask you money upfront, without any shame. Usually assorted with threats that are not based on anything legal, just because they can threaten you as there is nowhere you can go for redress. The reason for this new bluntness that we have observed in recent months is very simple: bureaucrats know that their fate is sealed no matter what happens with December elections. See, even if chavismo were to win, there is not enough money to spread around anymore and many of them will be shown the door if they are on the wrong side of post December chavismo reshuffled leadership. So the time is now for a last push for corruption money. It is that simple.

How can you score any success in front of such a negative environment? Unless survival on the edge of bankruptcy is considered a success. Note that the latest business climate studies put Venezuela dead last, even behind Syria.

That is why I can write already that 2015 has been a lost. That no matter what happens in the last quarter the negativity of the first three quarters cannot be overcome anymore. I feel exactly in the same mood as I felt in October 2014: a sad mood with the certitude that next year will be worse.


  1. Roberto Carlos1:03 AM

    I think you need vacation. We could all use another game of "where in the world is Daniel"

  2. The problem remains the inability of the middle class to understand that total ruin and destruction are inevitable when communists gain power. So the choice you face is reaching absolute misery and despair in the future, or taking a risk and facing it now in exchange for a possible way out. The only way out is to stop economic activity and hunker down, be willing to die at the end.

    The inability to move in this direction keeps you on a conveyor belt that takes you down as you try to crawl up. This applies to the majority of Venezuelans, who don't understand the conveyor belt isn't about to stop, and efforts to crawl up that belt won't move you fast enough. The communists rely on your ignorance of their true intentions and the outcome they visualize. What's even worse what they visualize is utopian, based on resentment and hatred, and/or complete disregard for human rights. As long as you don't understand you face a monster you won't act. And when you act it's too late, or you are not united.

    This is what I saw many years ago. At that time I warned Venezuelans I knew to get out, because I didn't see in them the fighting spirit nor the awareness of the enemy they face. Right now getting out of Venezuela is much harder than six years ago, and six years ago it was harder than 12 years ago. So imagine what it will be like 6 years from now. In other words, I hate to be so brutally honest, but in six years those of you who remain will wish you were dead unless you fight for your freedom now. This is your last chance. Otherwise, leave.

    1. Maybe, just maybe, those who stay behind chose not to run away and fight in their own way.

    2. I understand your point. Most venezuelans want to get rid of the Chavista regime, and each group has its own ideas. Mine arises from my own experience, I saw what they did in Cuba. Lester, after I left, I tried to visit or work in communist (or formerly communist ) countries, to understand their core beliefs and nature a little bit better. And I reached two main conclusions: 1. They will never give up power willingly, and 2: they will eventually realize Marx was an imbecile, and try to shift into a neofascist track, using a centralized power system to work with private capital, abuse the people, using nationalism and personality worship as their beacons. In other words, they become Nazis. Raul Castro is more Nazi than communist, and he is the puppet master pulling Maduro's strings.

      The fact that we see these guys shift to neofascism seems attractive to USA, Latinamerican and European upper elites, who are more interested in enhancing their power structure and cash flow.

      This means nobody will help you. And the only way I can figure out to put an end to this process is a nearly suicidal laying down of your arms. This means not working at all, working with low quality, and encouraging others not to work.

  3. "ungrateful shitty islands" is a deplorable attitude.

    1. Let me see.

      They have been sucking MY money for over a decade never worrying about my civil rights and welfare.

      Then when chavismo asks them to side against Guyana they dropped it with a disarming ease..

      In other words they fucked each side through and through.

      Yep, "ungrateful shitty islands" is the least I can write.

    2. Anonymous6:18 PM

      Think that one through for a moment. You hate the militarization of Venezuela but seem to be OK with Venezuela invading and taking over half of a neighboring country for their oil.

    3. Anonymous

      This is a way more complicated affair. That claim has existed decades before Chavez. And at any rate it does not distract from my point, that these shitty island are never going to lift a finger for Venezuela, while getting all the freebies they can get. Guyana has cozied up to Brazil long ago and Brazil has also abandoned Venezuela on that one. And that abandon was made easier through Chavez idiotic policies for the benefit of Fidel.

      The only two micro states worth rescuing from the lot are Barbados and Trinidad. All the rest in my book are chulos, starting with the biggest of these islands, Cuba. Barbados and Trinidad have never am embraced chavismo the way others have and their support to Guyana in this context is coherent and respectable.

    4. By the way, this has nothing to do with militarization. If Maduro were to be stupid enough to send his fat generals to the jungles they would lose the battle fast. Probably even before Brazil or Colombia decided to intervene......

    5. Anonymous5:17 AM

      I disagree. They can take and hold the Essequibo militarily. It's just a matter of priorities meaning he would be crazy to do it now.

    6. I see the stealing of land from Guyana as a huge blindspot in the VZ psyche.

  4. Horrific year for Europe too. Kleptozuela got the Chavista Pest 17 years ago, they're getting invaded by Millions of radical Muslims and/or poor, uneducated, unskilled malcontents. I don't know what's worse.

    1. Anonymous2:50 PM

      Hi Sledge,

      The uneducated one is you if you really think this is the situation in Europe.

      Your comments are offensive, ignorant and wrong.


    2. Anonymous5:18 AM

      Limey, go PC somewhere else. this is Venezuela 101, not PC 101. thank you

  5. No matter how many times socialism ravishes a country there are people who refuse to learn. I recently got into an online discussion where lefties actually claimed things are better in Venezuela now than before Chavez. They particularly focused on reductions in malnutrition & illiteracy. Maybe when the price of oil was high but not anymore. Amazing how people can see what they want to see, facts be damned.

    Daniel, your article reminds me of the one my Guyanese wife wrote about the situation in her country decades ago. History repeats itself:

    Socialism in Guyana

    1. Anonymous3:16 PM

      One of the only positives of the complete implosion of Venezuela is that the amount of keyboard leftists who cheerlead/apologize for Chavismo is far, far below what it once was. Their are still some out there, of course, along with the paid trolls, but it's a far cry from when they would be commenting all over every article re: Venezuela.

    2. Anonymous5:20 AM

      Daniel, dont be a masochist. You cannot reason with sociopaths just as you cannot reason with communists. This is not socialism guys... this is communism. Get you facts straight! This is 21st century communism. Same crowd, same MO, different century.

    3. Anonymous5:22 AM

      there is no positive in having less shills shilling. The reason for that is the lack of funding. They are still out there and the battles fought just as hard. Your comment is weird.

    4. Indeed. It has been months that none has bothered us here.

    5. Boludo Tejano12:00 AM

      I recently got into an online discussion where lefties actually claimed things are better in Ve. They particularly focused on reductions in malnutrition & illiteracy.
      The claims about wonderful Chavista accomplishments in reducing or eliminating illiteracy were debunked nearly a decade ago:
      Freed From Illiteracy.

      Annals of Crazy Chavista Boondoggles: Misión Robinson Edition

      UNESCO denies Venezuela literacy claim

  6. Roberto Carlos6:20 PM

    I have been reading this blog for a number of years. I remember back in -hmmm- 2006 or 2007 during the election ramp up, Daniel started publishing these very elaborate excel charts and tables attempting to predict the outcome of the election, something that eventually became a staple of this website.

    At that time I posted a comment saying -in effect- that all those charts and tables were a total waste of time and he was delusional if he thought that Chavez would relinquish power through an election. The only way Chavez would go, and leave all of the corruption of his regime exposed, would be by force.

    Daniel responded "I am a pacifist, I don't believe in violence" as if he was the only one who didn't believe in violence.

    I realized then that although we both shared our revulsion at Chavez and chavismo we were very different in everything else. Daniel is a french intellectual who believes he has achieved a higher lever of evolution than the rest. The music that he likes is the best music, the wines he drinks are only the best wines, the best poetry, the best art and he wants to marry whoever or whatever he loves and his female friends should be able to do with their bodies anything they want. Overall a typical "group-think liberal" who would vote for the next socialist around the corner next time he has an opportunity to vote.

    And now "the pacifist" cannot even wipe his butt.

    1. Nice compliment. It took you quite a few years to open up. I am touched. That must be why you suffered in pain forcing yourself to read this blog until the time was right. I apologize for not been a troglodyte.

    2. Anonymous5:03 AM

      What a petty, petty comment from a petty, petty man. I only wonder if such a pathetic "revenge" satisfies your soul's needs... You do not even deserve to be insulted.

    3. "group-think liberal?" ...because you like wine? LOL

    4. Anonymous5:23 AM

      RC, what the fuck are you doing here? Enlightening us with your crystal ball and higher wisdom? Q pendejo eres. What have YOU done? besides whine.

  7. I think that Daniel's piece illustrates how most middle class Venezuelans, living in country, feel. Those who stay are either foolish, cannot leave due to circumstances, or are heroic. Daniel has proved his heroism by posting the truth for so many years.

    1. IslandCanuck9:34 PM

      ...cannot leave due to circumstances,...

      That's about right.

  8. Sorry for all the pain.At some point something has to give and you will be in a better place, somewhere, sometime, someday.


  9. Anonymous8:22 PM

    Daniel, although different circumstances, I choose to live in Venezuela. I understand your feelings as you see everything closing in around you.
    I am sorry for your sadness, sense of hopelessness and the condition of your SO. I know you believe in them, but you will be in my prayers.
    At this point of where we are in Venezuela, it is going to take a supernatural act to not only return but restore our society to the level of being caring, respectful and productive once again

  10. Anonymous5:06 AM

    Daniel, one thing you said... lack of "redress." I heard similar from the US State Dept. top Latam diplomat now retired but it's his team in place that negotiated Cuba for example. He told me lack of redress in Latin America one reason why Latam is a failure and everyone wants to come up here. BTW, there's a new phenom in Doralzuela, the illegal Venezuelan worker. Now they come up with tourist visa's to stay. Usually singles or couples. The ones who have their act together find jobs within days waiting tables and whatnot with Venezuelan businesses... this never happened before. Illegal Brasilians in South Florida easily number 100,000 and they don't appear on any census yet they are key to the economy of Broward County meaning if they all decided not to go to work, Broward would feel it. If the status quo remains, the numbers of illegal Venezuelans will start going into the tens of thousands. Venezuelans are not dumb.... they see Cubans and Central Americans much worse off come to the USA and stay. More people are migrating illegaly today than before... the inflow of Cubans has doubled since last year. The trends are clear and Uncle Sam is not going to straighten things out por ahora because Hillary looks set to be the next POTUS. Republicans imploding and no candidate even Trump can win against a Democrat... the numbers are not there and we dont have Smartmatic (though we almost did through Sequoia thanks to Antonio Mujica..the POS).

    1. IslandCanuck6:15 PM

      ...and no candidate even Trump can win against a Democrat..

      Yeah, a recent poll shows that 20% of Republicans wouldn't vote for DT even if he's nominated as the candidate.

      What surprises me is the at 80% of them would. I guess it's like Chavismo.

    2. Disgusting that people are so disrespectful as to stay illegally in a country and take away the jobs from the poor citizens who are law abiding...they are only helping the rich who do not need the help.People like Trump who I don't like will only get more and more popular for this reason.Karma has a way of straightening things out though.


  11. Anonymous4:55 AM

    Are you saying more illegals are coming in than ever before? The data suggests otherwise, unless you have some of your own. In fact, more illegals left the country than came in since the Great Recession began. However, that may be changing as LatAm countries deal with the downside of the economic 'supercycle".

  12. Anonymous5:01 AM

    I'm venezuelan, my parents took us out of the country while I was still a child, but every year it seems to get worse and worse. There is never good news coming from Venezuela, and honestly I keep wondering how much worse can a country get before there is a violent uprising from where a new beginning will come. Because after reading the story of many countries, that seems to be the trend before a society can advance to the next level of peaceful civilization.
    But really, when? When can my country of origin finally enjoy peace and justice?

    I think the answer is 'when the people can no longer live' period. Not even survive, that is when things will change. It's just sad and frustrating and horrible to watch it happen and know there isn't anything to do but wait.

    Thank you for your blog, I feel your pain.


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