We, venezuelans, we are f@#~d. Quite so. We go down and it gets worse. But when we reach the bottom (as a dear friend used to say) we start digging.
Ain’t get a quick solution. You don’t believe me? No problem. The actual state of facts is such that we will go on f@#~d for a long while. So I write this stuff, this thing I would prefer not to call by its name. Am I an outsider? I don’t know; I just feel uncomfortable each time I look my passport.
A few weeks ago, on November 9, it was 75 the anniversary of the Kristallnacht on 1938; the night when german Nazis begun the deportation of jews to Auschwitz, the fire of more than 1000 synagogues, the destruction of 7000 small shops and the confiscation of all their properties; brief, the night where begun the biggest pogrom of modern history. For sephardic jews this date is only comparable to March 31 1492, when the catholic king of Spain approved the edict of Granada.
I move a step forward from the freedom that has given to me this desert “que siempre va conmigo”, as Antonio Machado would say. I walk like a dasein, living on this eternal present. I choke on my old ID card, feel it like an unpleasant fishbone. I look at myself in the other’s discomfort, as Leonardo Padrón; but even on them I cannot recognize my own face. I just see what I am not anymore.
I got used to this screenplay: My family, cousins and friends say I overreact: things look worse when you don’t live in Venezuela, but for those who live inside it’s not so bad. So I exercise my memory: We bear the weight of the national finnancial crisis which started on February 18 1983 (venezuelan “black friday”), more than 30 years ago. The political crisis crashed on February 27 1989, 24 years ago. This means, more or less, a quarter of century living in the madness. One of the sharpest features of this has been the frequent devaluation of venezuelan currency. During the first 12 years of my life, the price of an american dollar was around 4.3 Bs/USD. On black friday the price jumped to 7.5. Jaime Lusinchi began his period, on 1984, with a price of 13.55; when he left the charge to CAP on 1989 the price was 37.3, Venezuela reached a historical minimum of international reserves (quite enough for a few weeks of importations) and a black box of corruption, the bureau of RECADI, which controlled all negotiations in foreign currencies. It approved any operation of those who were close to the power, while worked against those who stood in the other sidewalk. Even the importation of industrial supplies was governed by this principle, for instance, two big newspapers (El Nacional and El Diario de Caracas) were near to close due to the scarcity of paper. On 1989 CAP started his period with a pack of economic measures approved and negotiated with the World Bank and the IMF. Venezuela returned to the free exchange of currencies and goods, the price of an american dollar was 40Bs/USD. Progressive mini-devaluations (the crowling-peg) let the price arrive, on November 1993, to 100Bs/USD. Caldera started with a price of 108; on his period there were two huge devaluations: a finnacial crisis made him come back to the exchange controls, he let a fixed price of 168. On 1996 he returned, again, to the free exchange; the price had jumped to 289, and from there to 470 in less than three months, as a part of the economic program Agenda Venezuela of Teodoro Petkoff. The annual inflation of 1996 is Venezuela’s absolute historic maximum, over 100%. The price of the american dollar closed at 574. To summarize, from 1973 to 1989 the american dollar jumped from 4.3 to 574 Bs/USD, which means a devaluation of 1334,88%. On December 2007 it arrived to 5700. On January 2008 Hugo Chavez made a change of the currency denomination which supressed three digits, so the price started at 5.7. Now, on December 2014, the price of an american dollar in venezuelan new currency BF is actually unknown. There is a legal (i.e. controlled) price of 4.3BF/USD; but nobody will sell you a dollar at this price on the streets, and the most expensive goods are those we cannot find. Venezuelans go shopping in rally, they make family teams, the call each other by cell-phones. Did you fin the diapers? Don’t buy the toilette-paper, your uncle found it. If you see some coffe, pick a 2nd pack for your sister. Web pages which publish the non-official price of the american dollar, have been blocked and/or hacked by the govenrment. But Venezuela has a large permeable border which shares with Colombia. On last October, in the borderline the price of a new bug, in colombian pesos, was 1BF=50COP. In Colombia, the free price of the american dollar is 1USD=1992COP so you can make your own count: 1USD=(1992/50)=39.84BF. This was on October. Since then, the price continued climbing and, according to other sources such as dolartoday, it is over 62BF/USD. Now do the same exercise as before: From 574Bs=0.574BF on 1998, e price of an american dollar has reached 62BF=62000Bs. This means that, in order to buy a stuff for which you paid only one bug of the old currency on 1998, now you have to pay (62000/574)=108,01 (old) bugs. The colossal proportion of devaluation corresponding to the period of Hugo Chavez is 10701,3% in only 14 years; this is 8 times the devaluation that occurred from 1973 to 1998 (25 years), in almost half the time. We should also remember that on those first 25 years the price of an oil barrel was always under 40USD; though in the last 9 years it has always been over 90USD and, during more than 3 years, it was over 120USD.
The balance of Hugo Chavez/Maduro versus the last 4 administrations of the so called IVth republic, is this: In half the time (14 years against 25), with more than 3 times the profits; more than 8 times the previous devaluation.
Now, why I do this exercise?
Because I’m sick of those who say I overreact. I will not talk about the insecurity, if you want, just see here and compare. Venezuelans got used to the unbearable, they made it a part of their lives. The unadmissible is their hobby, their theme of conversation on cafeterias and lunchs (even when there is no coffe or lunch at all), their trend in twitter. Suffering has become routine, but they don’t stop and realize how unadmissible the state of things is. They just go on with their lives, as far as it is possible. Also, a considerable part of them commits assaults, abuses, robbery, loots, pillaging. It’s easier than taking out the team in charge, because this would imply to admit, somehow, that they are co-responsibles of all this. It would be cheaper for our children and grandchildren if we just go to hell, if we just disappear, if one day we are not there anymore and we leave them it all, just like it is. They will have to pay debts. They will not start on zero, but on negative numbers: we have, for instance, an affaire to conclude with China wich would be another chapter of this huge tragedy. But at least we will not be there to make them opposition. They would not have to deal with this damned, wicked, cursed, lost generation. Apathy stops us while, in front of our eyes, happen murders, thefts and burglaring, pillaging, kidnaping.
We have on our noses a caribbean version of the Kristallnacht, but we don’t even recongnize it. The picture of this trader lead to forced bankrupt (the note is in Spanish) appeared in all the newspapers and social networks; but we don’t get it. For God’s sake; those who sacked the small shops while crying on “the enemy”, aren’t they soldiers, military officers and supporters of the government? What have done the security forces, but staying with their arms crossed while looking? They have even marked people with stapms, as cows, in order to “organize the looting”!
This loot comes from the upside. It has been created by the government itself, which needs desperately another excuse for justifying additional measures of force. “La bêtise insiste toujours”, said Camus. I have read, while choking tears, an article of Fernando Mires about this writer. How accurate he is. I am also thankful for having found another article of Roberto Casanova about the deliberate manipulation that Nazis made on the german economy. Their works give me a light, a new explanation of the Kristallnacht, of all Kristallnachts.
First, it is a distraction manoevre: Target an enemy, distract the attention. Second: it is an empowering action. Kidnapping the economy and destroying the rules of free market is a way to eliminate, ipso facto, the economic liberties. So they have no cityzens anymore, but slaves; in this way the subdue the entire population through a chaotic economy controlled by a small group. This is absolutely perverse: Enemies are targetted, insulted, degradated, not allowed to work, expropriated, taken appart of the economic system and; at the limit, sent to a reeducation camp or just exterminated. In the meanwhile, supporters face hunger and necessity; so they will consider it twice before becoming oppositioners. And so, each single person is force do choose beween hunger and extermination.
They close this wonderful circle by changing the rules, so everything they do is legal, like closing radio-TV stations and journals. They don’t make robbery, but expropriations. They don’t kidnap, disappear or kill opposers: they correct them, reeducate them. They apply the law; a law that has been written according to their own wishes. The best course in doublethink is the Constitution itself.
Everything’s OK, we just survive and can’t expect much more. As soon as I remember of De Gaulle, “Le destin du monde est là… Rien n’est perdu… Les mêmes moyens qui nous ont vaincus peuvent faire venir un jour la victoire… Quoi qu’il arrive, la flamme de la résistance française ne doit pas s’éteindre et ne s’éteindra pas..”; as soon as I remember Jean Moulin; “Je ne savais pas que c’était si simple de faire son devoir quand on est en danger”. ; I simply get sick again.
How stupid we were. We never saw it come. How unable we are to move forward, to change this place where, individually or collectively, we have fallen. How f”#@ing stupid we are, that we still think it’s not so bad.
So I am so sorry to inform you that, from now on, I will not let my security, or my goods, or my family, in charge of anyone who says that everything’s OK. We are f@#~ed, if you don’t feel your !@#$%^&* it’s because we have been f@#~ed every day on the last 30 years. If we don’t change things right now, our children and grandchildren will be f@#~ed also. If you don’t get it, if you let those Nazis dressed up as socialists to f@#k you, your family and friends; if you allow them to go on doing more Kristallnachts, if you don’t stand for your principles, if you don’t have principles, if you let them violate each rule, each human or civil or political or economic right; if you have lost the sense of reality and don’t see anymore the difference between good and evil, just take a minute and recover it.
Sorry to remind you: Victims of limit situations can, an do still stand for their principles. This is the lesson of Hannah Arendt. “Homo homine lupus”? Is the man a wolf for other men? The right answer would be: “Se questo é an huomo…”, i.e. It depends on what you call a man. They make wolves of us as long as we let them; we arrive to be humans as long as we resist. This is the lesson of Primo Levi. Sorry to inform you: the Earth will not be yours.
So; if you agree with all this, don’t count on me anymore. Because this is the lesson of poetry, just in case you decide to resist: Keep your head. Do not look too god, nor talk too wise. Fill the unforgiven minute. Be a man. This is the Will, that says to you, “hold ond”.