The Government Lackey on My Block

A house

By Caridad

HAVANA TIMES – She’s not just a super-fan of the system Hugo Chavez set up. She’s one of those they call “plugged in” here – in other words, well-connected with the government. One of those people who aren’t too worried about ideology, as long as it’s the ideology favored by those in power. Or, better yet, one of those people whose interest is power, and if that lacks ideology, so much the better. Then again, we already know that power is the true ideology of a good part of humanity.

The thing is, this neighbor and supporter of Nicolas Maduro, now that Hugo Chavez is history, enjoys that small quota of power aspired to by all those who – in one form or another – fight for a position as a public servant or any other government post. She arrived in this lost spot, very far from the city, a short while ago. People say she moved here in order to escape notice. Or to be clearer, she came to hide from some small scandal in the community she formerly lived in.  A small scandal having to do with resources that were diverted, or with misappropriation, or bribes. The daily bread and butter of politicians at different levels.

I must say, I’ve never seen this neighbor’s face, although she lives right on my block. I’ve seen the taxi she gets around in, or the pick-up truck with tinted windows, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen her eyes, her hair, or her nose. I don’t even know if she’s tall or short, blonde or dark haired. Pleasant, she’s not. And it’s not necessary to see her in person to know that.

A man supporting the government of Nicolas Maduro under a gigantic Venezuelan flag.

These arid zones governed by crooked politicians, suffer from a chronic lack of water. It’s improved slightly over the past year – they almost always turn on the supply once a week. However, when the dry season gets worse, weeks may go by without the water pipes even getting damp.

As you might expect, once a month a cistern truck comes around to our neighbor, bearing water to fill all her tanks. On one such occasion, that truck overflowing with water pulled up during a period of very severe drought. In sight of all the neighbors, it turned on the motor exclusively to pump water into the tanks of my Maduro-supporting neighbor. One woman sent her little girl with a small receptacle, to ask if they could give her a little water. The girl had to be content with the response of a resounding “NO!”.

At a time when propane gas for cooking was almost impossible to obtain, there was also a truck that came by to provide our dear Madurista neighbor alone with the scarce fuel. And when the Local Supply and Production Committees (Clap) began to distribute bags of food, her husband was the first in line to claim theirs, not without first looking through it to be sure everything was in perfect condition, because his “wife is very particular about everything.”

A street

The streets of this zone, like most of the streets on the periphery of Venezuela’s towns and cities, haven’t been paved. Some have some gravel thrown down, while others are just tamped dirt, rutted from the weight of the trucks that pass through here. A few days ago, I began noticing that someone was filling in the potholes on my block. The material used was somewhat unusual – a type of hard cardboard used mostly for makeshift false interior ceilings or room dividers.  The sight of it both amused and pained me, knowing that when the rains begin these little patches won’t last long. 

Today, though, those feelings were replaced by indignation, when I found out that the patches were coming from our neighbor’s house. Following a home remodel, she was perhaps paying for with her humble public employee’s salary, she’d decided to put the debris to good use, pretending that she’s contributing to her community. I wonder if some funds destined for street repairs were being spent on this.

Not to be one of those people who always assumes the worst, but it’s the general modus operandi of the leaders in this country.

I suppose that if I began to investigate, I might find out a lot more things about this neighbor with ties to the regime. But, really, it’s not worth the trouble. She’s just one small flea among the enormous bevy of rats that hold power in Venezuela, and who have been devouring the country as if it were one large hunk of cheese.

Read more from Caridad’s diary here.