Venezuela’s King Midas


King Midas

HAVANA TIMES — I don’t know why, but every time I hear or read the story about King Midas, I begin to hum a song, the chorus of which goes like this: “Go hide, the garbage is coming.”

Recently, Venezuela’s president has joined this strange association of ideas and not exactly because everything the president touches turns into gold. If I’m walking by a TV by chance and I see him, with all of his overweight body, my survival instincts tell me to “Run, run before he touches you and turns you into shit.”

The president moves heavily in front of the cameras, or he stays plonked in his chair, moving his long arms like a pile of talking garbage, but it isn’t garbage, it’s the king.

In true good king-style, the kind who only manage to be real in children’s stories, the president speaks to his good subjects, the ones who love him, who cheer him, waiting, with opened arms, for the bonus’ that the good king wants to hand out because he is happy.

Anyone who has had the good sense, patience, suspicion and enough obedience to register for a “homeland card”, will be enjoying the Venezuelan Midas’ benevolence. His benevolence has now taken the name: “peoples’ vouchers”. The good king has created vouchers for the country’s most deprived families, according to a survey that was carried out when they had their homeland cards made.

The first “homeland voucher” was handed out to pregnant women. Forget about the few hospitals that exist in ruins, with hardly any supplies; let’s not touch on the diabolic mechanism of Medical Insurance and Private Clinics; let’s continue to penalize abortion and not offer any kind of sex education to prevent teenage pregnancies. Let’s not investigate cases of malpractice, which are common in public hospitals and private clinics; let’s not do anything to stop inflation.

Best to just throw some breadcrumbs up into the air, they’ll look really pretty when the sunlight catches them, they will shine; people will have fun trying to catch them. Having fun is very important for everyday stress. Thus, just like that, people will forget the murder of a pregnant woman by a National Guard member, in broad daylight, in front of many people last December . Yep… it seems to be working.

Vouchers for poor families will go up from 150,000 bolivars to just over a million. Yes, that’s enough for half a box (15) of eggs this month (for those who get this 150,000 gift), but that’s not the case. Because Carnival is fast approaching and, like I already mentioned, it’s very important to have fun. So, the “Carnival voucher” is already available for nearly everyone who has the homeland card (and who voted for the governing PSUV candidates at the last elections).

Let’s shut our mouths and remember that there is garbage nearby and flies are swarming about. Yes, that’s right, we haven’t heard wrong, nearly half a million bolivars are beginning to be handed out to patriots so they can celebrate Carnival.

Is there a voucher for people sick with cancer by any chance? Ah no, that is just as unpleasant, more or less, as the lepers in the time of kings and emperors. Charity for the sick looks better for the religious, but kings need to take charge of happier and more pleasing things.

In January, there was also a “Three Kings Day voucher” for a million children, the ones who barely eat a meal or two a day, for that day of course, not for the president’s birthday.

There is less and less being produced in Venezuela every day, less opportunities to set up a business, unless of course you have a shady business with food that sells for the price of gold; cash money isn’t available in notes.

Basic services continue to deteriorate, as does the safety and dignity of people who are trying to survive. On the other side, you have the old and the new wealthy, pretending to have political differences when the only difference is who they think should be in power.

When people are dedicating more than 24 hours a day to think about how to get food, how to get money in cash in order to pay for transport, how to leave their house and come back home without being attacked; it’s easy for the king to convince them that he is a good leader because he is giving them a little bit of oxygen every time they are about to die of asphyxiation.

People are forgetting what breathing for themselves was. Those who haven’t forgotten are trying to leave the country, but, do you want to hear a bad joke?

Any time now, King Midas will create a voucher for Venezuelans who want to emigrate. At the end of the day, Venezuelans earning in dollars outside of Venezuela is a profitable business too.

The best part of the joke is that these same Venezuelans who still remember how to breathe by themselves, who will struggle to leave this country in order to not be touched by King Midas’ hands, will accept this voucher in all seriousness. They have no other choice.


Caridad: If I had the chance to choose what my next life would be like, I’d like to be water. If I had the chance to eliminate a worst aspect of the world I would erase fear. Of all the human feelings I most like I prefer friendship. I was born in the year of the first Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, the day that Gay Pride is celebrated around the world. I no longer live on the east side of Havana; I’m trying to make a go of it in Caracas, and I continue to defend my right to do what I want and not what society expects of me.