To tell you that 2018 has been the worse year of my life sounds almost like an understatement. Things can always get worse, and in Venezuela it certainly seems so, but 19 years of love, my moderate belongings, my hopes for a stable future, all that went down the drain.
Grief is almost a relief as nothing else seems to matter much. Not even the support of the remainder of family and friends. When true grief hits you, you are alone. Nothing matters. You do not even cry much, even though you want badly to cry all the time.
But this blog has avoided as much as possible to write on my private life unless it brought something to the narrative of the destruction of Venezuela. Yet what could I possibly write about? A summary of the collapse of the opposition? The internecine chavista warfare? Even if I wanted to do so it would be reckless for me to write a lot about such things. In 2018 I was too obsessed with reality at my door step to worry much about the misfortunes of Borges or the arrogance of Maria Corina Machado. I am not as informed as I used to be.
2018 has been the daily confrontation with Venezuelan reality. Each night when I went to bed it was thinking about what new ordeal would come my way tomorrow. A medical appointment. The renewed search for a medicine or a new treatment. The collapsed health system which required me to make ever growing drawings from my life savings. Will I find toilet paper? Or chicken to do broth as one of the few things Ivan could still swallow. How will Ivan deal with his current treatment. As months went by it became "will Ivan make it through the week?", while I was desperate in trying to find anything that could improve his quality of life or at least hide its misery for a few minutes.
All this is of course expected for anyone having his loved one slowly depart from a terminal illness. What makes it much worse for us in Venezuela is that not only there is little emotional or material comfort to be found, but you realize that actually the state could not give a shit about what happens to its population.
My ordeal last year has seared that fact on my soul. Be it at work where I saw my fortunes slowly sink, as well as those of my clients and providers (the few still alive) or be it at home, everything pointed out that the state wanted me to die, or leave the country, or bend over.
The regime hit new lows. In repression as new political prisoners were jailed while the "trials" of others were constantly postponed. Some died in jail. Many were forced out into exile. And if that were not enough the ecological devastation of the Southern part of the country became a world wide scandal. If you add this to the infrastructure and sanitary devastation of the rest of the country Venezuela will simply not be inhabitable. Even countries like Bangladesh will fare better as over there their government is trying to do something about the conditions of its people.
Here nothing is done. Period. Whatever you may see, e.g. some distribution of something for free or almost is just a political bandaid ad to hide those who get nothing. This has been so persistent over the years that you observe now deep moral degradation in the country's populace. This one these days is in a pre-revolutionary mood because the promised "pernil" has not arrived (1). They are not rioting because they have no job, no liberty, no money, no security, no hospitals. They are rioting because a specific handout has not arrived. As soon as the regime finds a bone to throw at them it will all quiet down again. A castrated populace, a true lumpen.
If you see anything done by Maduro it is to make things worse. Specially against those who still manage to produce some in spite of hyperinflation and dreadful security to work and deliver safely. More fake money is printed to the point that even my house keeper hates when her wages are increased: she knows what comes next at the grocery store tags. The regime with no disposable income still keeps stealing what it can steal, including finished product to distribute for free to the populace, or worse, for the military to sell them in the black market.
As if losing Ivan was not enough I have also lost my Venezuelan savings. My business is at a standstill. We keep it open because we need a reason to wake up in the morning and we care about our long time employees. We may not lose money but the capital of the business is decreasing every day. This is the hyperinflation hidden cost. Even if on our books we are not losing money, we are because the infrastructure loses value. I have a small one bedroom studio that I cannot rent for many reasons, nor I can live there for other reasons. But it is my "savings" in Venezuela. About 5 years ago I could have sold it for 75K $. Now the realtor tells me that if I could get 20K I should consider myself very lucky. I'd rather keep it...
So there you have it, I might as well stop now. 2018 was a truly lost year. May 2019 be no worse.
1) pernil: the pig thigh that is the traditional roast for the holidays in Venezuela. I do not particularly care for it as I much prefer turkey for the holidays. Thus personally seeing these people riot over the missing pig cheers me up. Serves them well.