HAVANA TIMES — It’s been quite some time since I last felt like writing. I feel like it’s the closest thing to rolling around in a pile of shit. I hope you’re not offended by my language, including the editor who I hope doesn’t censor me. But it’s a lot more honest than beating around the bush.
Following the news of every new streak of craziness, stupidity, lies, cynicism, despotism; or how many violations of common sense the leaders of the Venezuelan government insist on committing, is impossible if I want to stay in my “semi-full-happy” state. To sum up, it’s better to keep myself away from governmental muck just to maintain my sanity.
It’s already more than enough that the soap I use since February comes from Cuba, because I can’t find it here, just like I can’t find deoderant or sugar. And it’s best that I don’t go into all the other disasters that are taking place here, because that would be both redundant and masochistic. Even though it’s impossible to buy a lot of things, the truth of the matter is at least I don’t have to worry about feeding my son or my daughter; and my habit of cooking only one decent meal a day helps me bear the uncertain food situation which is becoming more and more common amongst ordinary Venezuelans.
What scares me the most is that what I foresaw coming over a year ago, is now coming true in all its macabre accuracy. And of course you don’t have to be a fortune-teller to guess what’s going to happen; just living in Cuba teaches you more than enough to foretell the steps a government will take on its way to becoming a dictatorship. However, seeing this happen with my own eyes, the realization is always much more stifling than just having been born in a country and discovering as you grow up and leave childhood behind that you live under an totalitarian government.
I would have been amused, if I hadn’t lived in Cuba; the new campaign for all of us to plant seeds all over the city. Beautiful urban vegetable patches are created – amidst the drought – in order to combat the economic war waged against us. Every business and governmental body must have a vegetable patch in their facilities.
I don’t know if these small vegetable patches survived after this episode when we only work Monday and Tuesday. This is one Maduro’s economic measures in order to save energy in offices because the huge Guri Dam hardly has any water left.
Evil tongues may say that the real reason is that several areas of the Guri Dam have been dredged so it could be explored for finding gold in its riverbed. We already know that as the price of oil exports has dropped, the Venezuelan government is clinging onto mineral exploration and exploitation more and more… as well as selling them, of course.
It’s so easy to go from an urban vegetable patch one minute to gold mining in the next… following the time of widespread vegetable gardens, let me tell you about a message we received a few days ago on our phone.
The sender… male or female, is a member of the Communal Council… and one of its directors. For those of you who are unaware of what a Communal Council is, just think of Cuba’s CDRs but with less members and not so forced… for now. I say for now because clap clap… I’m not clapping.
The CLAP (and I’m not in the mood to translate nor guess what in the hell this resonant abbreviation means) have been created as a new institution to deliver food door-to-door. Let me calmly explain: lines are no longer the “normal” thing they used to be last year. They’ve reproduced and grown like Gremlins, in their contact with water, and their appearance has nothing to do with those sweet gatherings we used to have under the scorching sun for two or three hours. This only serves to prove that there is a further food shortage, which is only getting worse.
On top of this shortage, prices have inflated for the few items you can buy. As the majority of the State’s markets have closed – and no, I’m not going to go into the other reasons why – Maduro has decided to create this institution, which is now responsible for delivering food to the people. This would be a trustworthy practice without thieves in between…
But it’s not that simple. The CLAP are linked to the Communal Councils, that is to say, the people who are members of the Communal Councils are also the same people who form the CLAP. And Communal Councils are only made up of hardcore Chavistas… really hardcore.
The CLAP have promised to bring a food parcel to all the inhabitants in their designated area, for a reasonable price… I’m not sure how often. In my particular case, I live in a building and although neither my parter nor I are linked to any political party or association, we received a visit from the Communal Council member to deliver this food parcel. However, first we had to fill out a form with our personal information: monthly salary, how many people live in the apartment, political standing, among other things.
Just a quick note, people who live alone are not “eligible” to receive the Parcel (I’m dying to say javita like we do in Cuba). Weeks after having filled out the form, and after many failed notices of its awaited delivery, we received a message on behalf of the Communal Council. It notified us that they were working hard on the subject of the food parcels, but that we would be better off not waiting for this parcel with our arms crossed and to get planting seeds because there are a lot of free spaces available around our building.
I’m not going to include the personal anecdote after having received this message out of the blue from somebody who I don’t know and who I never asked anything from, let alone a bag full of left-overs.
While the President talks for hours on end on the TV every day of the week and they broadcast the delivery of these measly parcels as if they were dealing with organ transplants, public protests against the government have been prohibited. A State of Emergency has been declared which allows the President to do as he pleases without taking the National Assembly into account, which was elected by the majority of Venezuelans.
In the parliamentary elections held last December, the majority of the Venezuelan people voted against the government or against their rule which is more or less the same thing. A president with any sense of integrity would allow the law to run to its course and listen to what the majority want: a recall referendum. But instead, all they do is threaten to dissolve the National Assembly, while sneakily and excessively increase the price of basic items, bullying and more bullying and clap… clap… clap.