Reporter’s Diary from Venezuela.
Georgy Zotov (author of AIF weekly)
This is the personal view of the correspondent on today’s life of Caracas.
Translated by Scott
Our Air France flight was grounded in Paris for 5 hours; no one wants to land in Venezuela in the middle of the night, due to the “dangerous criminal situation.” The airliner is half empty, the passengers, judging by nervous conversations, are only Venezuelans. A taxi driver, while leaving the airport, locks the doors, and sweetly warns that after dark, bandits scatter spikes on the roads and rob the stranded cars. “Oh, don’t worry, Amigo, I have an old car. They are not interested in old, cars.” That’s where you understand why Caracas is ranked first in the ranking of the most dangerous cities in the world. It’s too late for supper, but I at least want to exchange my US dollars for Venezuelan bolivars. I ask my cab driver. He violently shakes his head: “No, no, no. I do not mess with such things, it’s illegal!” “Whatever,” I laugh at him. “Tomorrow, someone will take the dollars, maybe even with my hands torn off.” I was wrong…
The following morning, no one at the hotel wants to look at my dollars. The hotel employee tells me to go to one of the official “exchange stores” but honestly adds: “only Americans, or complete jerks go there.”
In Venezuela, the official dollar exchange rate is 200 bolivars, and the “black market” exchange rate is 2,715. And if you exchange your currency in a bank, then according to this calculation, a bottle of ordinary water will cost 330 rubles, and a modest lunch in an inexpensive cafe—7,000 rubles per person. Judging by the stories on the Internet, in Venezuelan people should simply kill each other for dollars, but this is not the case. There is also other things different from perception. On western news, it is shown that demonstrators fight with police daily, tens killed, hundreds wounded, the sea of blood. But in Caracas, all is quiet. In an afternoon, people are sitting in cafes and idly sipping rum with ice, while maintenance crews sweep the streets. It turns out that the world ‘s leading TV new sources (including CNN and the BBC) show some fantasy film about Venezuela. “Demonstrations?” yawns Alejandro, a street vendor selling corn. “Well, Saturday there will be one, sort of. On one end of the city will be a rally of opposition supporters, and on the other, Maduro supporters. The police keep them separate to prevent fights.” Amazing. You browse the Internet, you turn on the TV, and you see the revolution, the people dying on streets to overthrow the “evil dictator Maduro.” And you come here, and nobody cares.
Then it got even better. Never in my life have I had so many adventures while trying to exchange one currency for another. The country has a problem with cash money, long queues waiting for the ATM, and even the street dealers of “currency” have no “efectivo,” as they call cash. I wander inside a jewelry store and ask if they want some “green.” The answer is “No.” Everyone acts like law-abiding citizens. I am told that police recently started arresting people for private exchange, that’s why people don’t want to associate. One owner of the jewelry store almost agrees. “What do you have? Dollars? No, I won’t take that.” “Why now?” “I take only the Euros …dollar, man, is the currency of the aggressor, they try to tell us how to live!”
Damn it! I have money in my pocket, and I can’t even buy lunch! Finally, a certain woman, nursing a baby in a workplace, very reluctantly agrees to exchange 2,200 bolivars for a “buck.” I want to curse her out, but I have to live somehow. Bolivars seem like a beautiful, unattainable currency, which hides all the benefits of the world, that’s why they are so hard to get. I’m nodding in agreement. The woman calls somewhere, and asks to wait. After 15 minutes she tells me that “there is a problem.” Of course, money is not to be found. Her man couldn’t withdraw them from the ATM, everywhere the ATMs are on a strict daily rate. “President Maduro is fighting for the strengthening of the national currency,” explained the nursing mother. “We all use our cards to pay for everything.” I don’t know how it works, but yesterday an exchange rate was 3,200 bolívars for 1 dollar, and today the “bucks” fell to 2,700. I have started to realize that in the very next few days I’ll starve to death with dollars in my pocket. A unique fate, perhaps, that has never happen in history.
In the next kiosk cash for gold place I am offered a plastic debit card loaded with local money, and then I would try my luck withdrawing bills from neighboring ATMs. “Or, maybe not, if you’re not lucky.” Well, of course. By the way, an attempt to buy a SIM card for the phone also fails. They don’t sell them to foreigners, you need a Venezuelan ID card. Yes, and I have nothing to pay for it. The feeling is that the dollar is a gift that no one wants. Sadly, I walk by stores. People come out of there with packages of eggs, bread, packs of butter. The range is not like in Moscow, of course, but again, if you believe the news on TV, Venezuela is suffering from a terrible famine, supermarkets are empty, and people are fighting each other for food. Nothing like that. There are queues, but not kilometers long. In general, television stations in the United States and Europe (and ours too) created their own Venezuela, drawn like a terrible cartoon. I walk into a cafe at random. “Will you accept dollars for lunch?” I ask hopelessly. “Yes, at the rate of “black market” they whispered to me. “But the change will also be in dollars…sorry, no bolivars at all…we’ve been hunting for them ourselves for weeks.”
My first day in Venezuela is over. How unusual. I’ve been here for 24 hours, and I’ve not held a Bolivian bill in my hand. Oh, but there will be more…
60 liters of gasoline here cost five cents, and a basket of basic food products — 50 rubles (about 90 cents).
“The gas station,” my driver reaches into his purse and takes out a banknote of 2 Bolivar. The exchange rate of the Venezuelan currency changes every day, and today it is 2 580 bolivars per one dollar. In Russian money, that is 10 cents. “We must now fill a full tank,” says the taxi driver. 60 liters of gasoline cost 1 bolívar, but we give the 2 bolivars bill, because there is no 1 bolivar bill. I can’t believe that is a full tank of fuel costs FIVE CENTS? “And how much can you even fill at this price?” “Once a day for every citizen. And it’s enough for me.” All the way to the center city, the driver scolds President Maduro, and tells me how much he loves America, and how it will be good when the “guy with mustache” is finally overthrow by the Americans. I start to think that I don’t feel sorry for Maduro at all. He really corrupted en entire country with such generous handouts. And they are willingly take, but no one says “thank you,” just that they want more and more.
On the street there is a long line into a “social supermarket,” a place you can buy 400 types of goods at the solid low prices. These shops were established by the late President Hugo Chavez “to fight inflation and protect the poor.” The stores are funded by the Venezuelan government. The buyer comes with a passport, gets a number, and waits in line until they are allowed to enter and buy a certain set of products. The selection isn’t very impressive, only the essentials: chicken, bananas, pineapples, sausages, milk. A box of these food items costs of equivalent of 50 rubles. CNN and the BBC show videos of Venezuelans wrapped in rolls of toilet paper and sadly wandering across the border with Colombia. The toilet paper is found in absolutely every store, and without any problems. I am once again simply amazed: Western TV news is something from Hollywood, they are not reporting but making fantasy blockbusters. On the BBC website I read that hungry Venezuelan children after school go to take a look at the street vendors cooking meat. I’ve been all over the town. Restaurants, cafes, eateries, during the lunch hour are crowded, and people look well-dressed. The mass hunger, the Western media paints for us, doesn’t exist in reality.
I take a few pictures inside the supermarket, and I am immediately approached by the workers or “Maduro followers.” “It’s forbidden to take pictures here.” “Is this a military facility?” “Leave or we’ll call the police.” “Listen, everywhere on TV they tell us that there is hunger in Venezuela. I want to prove that the reality is different.” “We are not interested, we just work here: leave immediately!” I started to understand perfectly well why Nicolas Maduro lost the information war. Hugo Chavez was often praised even in private conversations, but even Chavez supporters find little positive to say about Maduro. When people protested against Hugo’s endless nominations as the head of state, he used to meet them with the open arms, smiling and saying : “Guys, what’s the problem? I’m your President, I love you, let’s sit down and talk!” Maduro doesn’t have this image of being one of the guys. He is not able to communicate with the public, and his assistants, like the employees of the social store, can only push and ban and threaten with the police.
On the streets, provincial farmers sell fruits and vegetables: mango, tomatoes, cucumbers. All about the same price of 25 rubles per kilogram. Here, a dozen eggs from street vendors is 4,800 bolivars or about 130 rubles, and that is not cheap. During the peak of oil prices, when a barrel of oil was sold for $150, Venezuela lived on the principle of a rich fool. To develop domestic production? No, what is that nonsense? We can buy every triviality abroad. Even the managers of the oil production weren’t local, they hired specialists from Europe, and paid them a lot of money. Food imports into the country reached 95 percent. And now the situation is not too different. When I order my meal in a cafe (incidentally, still paying in dollars, all attempts to change dollars to bolivars failed), I get excellent pork. “Where is it from?” “From Colombia.” “And chicken?” “From Brazil, that’s why it’s so expensive.” Even flour for bread comes from neighboring Guyana. Chavez and his successor Maduro wanted to be “people’s presidents,” handing out money left and right. But then oil prices collapsed, food shortages began, and people rebelled. People demand as before: cheap food in supermarkets, gasoline for nothing, and they don’t want to hear anything more or less.
“Chavez was a great guy!” says a fan of the former president, 75-year-old Raul Romero, dressed in a red “chavist” shirt. “Maduro is nothing like him! There is speculators on the streets, he does nothing. In his time, Chavez arrested the dealers raising food prices, closed their shops, confiscated land from landowners, and gave it to the people. We need a firm hand, a real dictatorship!”
In the TV world, Maduro is portrayed as a dictator and executioner, although in Venezuela, he is openly scolded for being meek; they draw cartoon of him, and insult him as much as they can. But who cares about the truth? Much more colorful to show the suffering for the toilet paper.
“I got robbed by a COP for my phone. I’m talking on the cell phone outside, he walks over to me, pokes in my side with his gun. “Give me your mobile.”I don’t understand immediately, and automatically continue the conversation. He cocks his gun, and says, “Kill.” I give him my phone. It’s still good, I love being robbed by cops. They are not bandits from the “Barrios,” the poor neighborhoods in the mountains, who can shoot you first and then rummage your corpse’s pockets. I’m lucky, I’ve lived in Venezuela for 27 years and this was the first time I was “hop-stopped.” A lot of people get robbed every year.
I am talking to Mikhail, a citizen of Russia living in Venezuela since the beginning of the nineties. He helps me move around Caracas and instructs me on how to visit the local slums. “You don’t have protection? Oh, who would doubt that. Then leave your watch, phone, and camera at the hotel. Take some money for a taxi, you also have to have some cash in case you get ambushed, otherwise they might get offended and kill you. Sometimes, people get shot in an arm and a leg, that survivable.” After such a nice story, I still go to the “Barrios.” It is there that the supporters of President Nicolas Maduro mainly live. According to CNN and BBC, impoverished people in Venezuela are revolting against the government. Nothing can be further from the truth; it’s a wealthy middle class that goes to demonstrate. Maduro is applauded in poor neighborhoods, because the President gives their residents free food sets enough for a month and gives free (!) apartments. Formally, they belong to the state, but people live in them for generations.
“I will cut a throat for the President,” a heavily-tattooed man smiles menacingly, and introduces himself as Emilio. “Who else would give me food and a ‘roof ‘ for free? He is our father and benefactor.” Maduro deliberately does not touch such people, which is why crime in Caracas gushes over the edge. I am advised not to stop on the street to look at anything, but just to keep going, otherwise bandits will have time to look closely at me. That’s why they have constant robberies on the streets, plus the police and the national guard can easily take away your favorite things. No one can be happy about all these. “I love Russians,” told me the businessman Carlos while conversing over coffee near the Plaza de Bolivar. “But you’d better send Maduro economic advisers. Teach him a lesson! He doesn’t know anything about economy. He has one recipe for everything, to give more money to the poor, more free apartments, free food, free gasoline, to build a full communism here. But with this, sorry, any state would collapse.”
The opposition rally in the Western part of Caracas is huge, at least 100 thousand people gathered. The protesters are friendly to me, Russia here is respected. It is not considered an enemy. Zero aggression at all… and then I wonder about what I see on CNN, videos of the opposition being rolled into a pancake by tanks. The police keep the neutrality, it disappears from the streets, to not give a cause to provocateurs. People are happily waving flying in the sky military helicopter. Many-in t-shirts with the American flag, a man passes by, holding a hand-written poster with the altered slogan of Donald Trump -“Make Venezuela great again.” “Do you love the U.S.?” “Yes, adore it!” “I remember you already had a pro-American President in 1993, Carlos Andrés Pérez. He sharply raised the price of gasoline, 80% of the goods were imported, he drove the republic into billions of IMF debts. People went to demonstrations, and Pérez drowned them in blood, killing 2,000 people…then he fled to America.”
The man freezes, with his mouth open. Finally, he gets the gift of speech back. “I hope this time the pro-American President will be different.” “Are you sure?” “Sorry, I have nothing to say.” Asking the girl from the opposition how she feels about the US: “The US is our neighbor, let them change the power here.” “In countries where the US changed power like Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands people were killed. Are you ready for this?”
Again, she pauses and sighs. “No, no, no. We are not Africa or Asia. All will go peacefully. Venezuelans will not kill each other.” Where the opinions splits is the question of whether the free gasoline and free food packages will remain with an American-instilled government. Many are sincerely sure that the “freebies” will remain under a new president. How else? The minority that recognizes that state gifts will be canceled say that they at least “we will be free.” As I said, the protesters are mostly well-dressed, well-off people. By the way, the leader of the opposition, Juan Guido, also has no real economic program promising to “quadruple the oil production.” No one thinks that after that price will fall four times. In short, I get a feeling that neither the President, nor the opposition, know anything about the economy in Venezuela.
The demonstrations in support of Maduro take place at the other end of the city, to prevent the opponents from fighting. “You Americans are insolent!” screamed an old woman in a red t-shirt rushing towards me. “Bastards! You should be handed on a first tree! Cheers to socialism!” “I’m Russian, grandma.” The old lady recoils. “Sorry, please.” “Don’t get that upset, senora.” Many people gathered here are joyful, dancing and singing.
A soldiers stands in front of me and doesn’t allow me to take any pictures. Not just me, but also other passers-by. “You can’t take pictures here.” “Says who?” “President Maduro.” No, Maduro is definitely doing everything he can to be disliked. Those gathering here are poor, blue-collared workers and farmers from the suburbs. I am interested , honestly, were you brought here on the busses? “Yes, he did!” says one grandfather, proudly displaying a portrait of Che Guevara. “But I would walk here for Maduro! It’s a lie that we were paid to be here.” Other people applaud him happily. I shake hands. “Russians are welcome! Venezuela loves you, you’re home.”
The day of rallies is over. The maintenance crews came to the sidewalk, strewn with plastic bottles, crumpled packs of cigarettes, and other debris left after by a cloud. At the entrance of an old house, old people drink coffee. “They say that today some general has defected to the side of the opposition,” says one of them. “Some significant person.” “What’s this guy’s name?” “Who knows?” Venezuela is split in half. And the situation there may change at any moment.
First, thanks to Scott for the translation.
Georgy Zotov: He came, he saw, he recorded the truth. Very good reportage. Unvarnished observations, eyes wide open, ears attuned for nuance, but it was all bold, capital letters. Venezuela is sick of Maduro, both sides, but most people want lots of free stuff, no one on either side has a plan, some think the US will save them, most want someone to save them.
Doesn’t sound like Maduro can win another election.
Doesn’t sound like these people want a civil war or an invasion.
It does sound like the equilibrium of society is teetering toward collapse. Which side it falls on is problematic.
Certainly, if the US CIA pushes forward, there will be bloodshed. What they regime changers are hoping for is a military coup and then staged elections and their stooge wins while the military goes back to the barracks.
We get no idea of that from this article. A visiting Russian could never probe that deeply into the echelons of power or take the temperature of the military. Hell, he couldn’t even take their photos.
But we got the feel for the street and barrio. Division among the citizenry is probably no different for decades.
Only the currency inflation seems to be the issue all agree upon.
Can Russia and China help that situation? Maduro seems to be a slow and arrogant learner.
Someone has to replace Maduro soon or he will be replaced by force.
The article made very clear he is the problem and he’s incapable of providing the solution.
I would be looking for a controlled coup by a replacement (Russian and Cubans agreeing on the person), a plan of action, and dialogue to fix the currency issue and begin to put people to work to earn their way in the economy.
Do it before the US does it. Avoid the bloodshed and keep the US out.
Spot on. Maduro needs to go. He is not a Chavez caliber.
Replacement must be found before vultures from Washington move in first.
If you take the time to look online you will find plenty of images of Maduro using masonic signaling. Plenty of images of him with the index finger of his right hand pointing at either his mouth or his right eye.
I read an interesting article on voltairenet.org recently about Elliot Abrams. The US point man for a coup in Venuzuela…
Something for you to consider: theopolitics
Theopolitics is a word and a thing not understood.
It is aimed directly at your liffe.
To take it.
And never give it back.
On the contrary I think Maduro can, and should, win another election.
For two reasons:
1. “changing” the president is the Empire goal; so any such change will be, the facto, a victory of the Empire
2. in elections you never choose to vote for some “you like”; you can only choose from a restricted set of people present on the ballots, in the hope to choose the one that will give better environment for you.
With that in perspective, voting for Maduro is the only choice possible.
As for the “inefectivness” of the president, yes it’s nice for the Empire to see that idea pushed as it serves the “regime change” agenda.
However, from the report above, on the contrary I see some effective measures have been taken.
The currency war is a real one; a country with actually limitless supply of dollars wages war against a country that imports most of its goods. The situation is hopeless. Unless the country is strong enough to enforce the law and stop illegal foreign currency inflow.
My understanding so far was that the inflow was constant and unstopped; each dollar coming in destroying all the economic efforts you could have done.
Then this report shows that now that seems to have been taken care of; and quite effectively.
Maybe that effectiveness of the new measures is is what prompted the rush for the Guadio coup?
After all, if the Empire was sure that “Maduro cannot win a new election”, then it would be enough to wait next elections and get the prize…
But the Empire choose to do hurry and do a butched attempt at a Maidan like change.
Why suddenly? Why not preparing it better?
I think the reason is that the economic prospects of Venezuela were improving.
The goods shortages – that were real – seem to be no more, for one thing…
The “no photos” policy is also, in my eyes, a good thing.
“Is that a military facility?” _YES_ it is!
There is an economic war, waged against Venezuela by the most powerful country on Earth; that war aims particularly at starving people.
So, _yes_, the country efforts in order to prevent that, the channels of goods distribution and the efforts to create a resilient self-sufficing economy should be handled in a military strategy view.
there are few aspects of this I can take safely. I don’t thing this Russian has capably penetrated more than fractionally of the reality before him.
I take that it that there is no starvation in Venezuela. people in the West don’t understand the tropics. people there will hardly starve unless they are forced to directly, by occupation. there is land and forest and no matter the level of imports there is always food there hidden, to be accessed, increased.. if and when things get bad
the Bush is always full of fruit etc. and all the people have at least rudimentary agricultural skill and knowledge from their history in the region, and African antecedents that can be put to use to produce essentials..Bananas/Plantains, Taro, Potatoes, Greens, Chickens, eggs, Pork, Goats. if it becomes essential in a flash, a year Venezuela could be awash in such local production..a year or two at most.
I take that this author has debunked the superficial fantasy of conflict and suffering in the western media about Venezuela. for as far and wide as this reaches that is good I imagine… but I am from that region and I know it well enough still to know, that the people are more serious than reported here, more aware comprehensive and responsible. our author those not yet have what it takes to get to the core of the situation..that is long first-hand experience of the region
Maduro…and Chavez too..their mistake was/is not socializing he economy by skill and sophistication and utter determination on the full understanding that there is no alternative to that if they really are after the independence of Venezuela. and by socialize I mean worker co-ops to start with pushed and effect with all the power at the governments disposal.
they are going to to have to teach the people the ideology of co-operatives, how to put them in place and make them work. Venezuela has the has the vast experience and expertise of Mondregon to call on for demonstrative example and technical skill to teach Venezuela forward in cooperatives
while thy battled all else, Chavez/Maduro should have set up such a project even if small to start with immediately, with the intent that almost 20 years later they would have about have taken over the economy of Venezuela
Unfortunately Maduro is incapable to bring whatever change. He e cells in scheming and corruption, and he does not have even a percent of the skills which Chavez boosted. Gyaido is a lap dog, don’t see any point talking about him. Maybe the best short-, mid-term solution for the Venezuelan people is millitary coup and interim government stuffed by the army which to reform the oil sector and refurbish the court system. Now I just don’t see any capable leader out there, maybe Chavez ex-oil tzar but he is in a kind of precarious position.
One thing is sure tho, if the action goes kinetic and US send troops in Venezuela the situation will turn to Nam 2.0.
But the western news agencies can ever be complicit in promoting fake news! They are the bastion of all that is good and honest in the world!
Incredible read — молодец !
Indeed, the Western MSM is beyond redemption and below contempt, and my conclusion is that it always was like that. Really: If past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour, the obvious corollary is that current behaviour sheds light on past behaviour as well.
What’s clear from Georgy Zotov’s submission is that there are no anti-Russian sentiments prevailing anywhere in Venezuela, and that is something the Pindos had better keep in mind. The Chávez years have left a solid legacy of political awakening. Remember when Chávez came to power in 1998 and committed himself and his government to provide public health for the benefit of Venezuela’s immiserated majority? The country’s own medical staff couldn’t possibly care less as they were living high on the hog fleecing their middle class customers. ”All right”, said Chávez — and turned to Cuba. Amusingly, that had the reactionary middle classes go instantly apeshit. They didn’t like (truly) ’humanitarian intervention’ and accused Chávez of treason, subversion, and what-have-you. Contempt and hatred of the underclass writ large.
Now, as Zotov points out, there is consensus regarding the accomplishments of the Chávez years. As US imperialism tries to put the clock back by 20+ years — just like in Russia — it has the most welcome effect of swinging public opinion in favour of Russia. If Maduro is up to the task, Russia and China will contribute to put a stop to the Zionazi plot against Venezuela.
“‘What’s clear from Georgy Zotov’s submission is that there are no anti-Russian sentiments prevailing anywhere in Venezuela,””
that is what I tried to point out. the people of Latin America and the Caribbean are not stupid. they are not in love with Russians to play any such game. they don’t hate Russians. they will get along with any stranger there for whatever legit purpose. but they know Russians and the path that Russians now travel in the world, among the nations: and they are appreciative of the positive countervailing power Russia brings to bear on the Hegemon… if even to slow him down a bit
they know Russia since Gorbachev and the fall of the Soviet Union are no longer a threat of invasion and imperialism in the world. They know Russia/Russians are not their enemy.
the people know and therefore have, and exhibit the right response to Russians there in Venezuela, and to Russia as a nation, now following a right path in the world among the nations, calling for right global policies, peace and development in the world
the people of Latin America and the Caribbean are far more than capable of such awareness and sophisticated reasoning and behavior in world affairs. they have been oppressed and misrepresented by western exploitation, hegemony.
Quite correct in your observations. But there’s one thing I disagree: The Soviet Union was never interested in expansionism for colonialist reasons, as is inherent in the global capitalist hegemon. The USSR was not a threat of invasion or imperialism anywhere, only defensive moves to protect itself against the US and its bloc of malignant vassals.
And the sub-fascist, religious fundamentalist, psychopath, Bolsonaro, has kicked the Cuban doctors out of Brazil, which just means that the Brazilian poor will no longer get any medical assistance. Another win for the Empire of Death. No doubt Bolsonaro’s ‘God’ will reward him for his love of his fellow man.
Already on twitter I’ve credited Trump for the success of exposing so many (all?) the fraudulent ‘alternative’ news & content sites on the ‘revolutionary’ www – A job well done. A victory for real status quo. In your face, same as it always was. Eat cake y’all.
Great job. I wish the people of Venezuela peace. Why I see this happening is that the US is getting out of Syria. So since it see the Russians here in this hemisphere, it states, “Since we can’t be over there, you guys can’t be over here.” They see it as their territory and they don’t want no other big guys around.
Syria doesn’t have significant quantities of oil and gas to make it into a bonanza for US oil corporations. Hence Syria doesn’t have any further interest for Trump who wants to control the world oil trade to strangle China by cutting it off of energy at will and thereby forcing it to separate itself from alliance with Russia, which step Trump believes will then make Russian subjugation under US control possible and takeover of Russian oil, gas and minerals. The goal is to solidify dollar hegemony for all times, which would then allow the US to pile up debt indefinitely with impunity.
Given that both Russia and China now have weapons against which the US cannot defend, these US plans may not be realizable.
Yes, I had a feeling that the Western media was using Soros style methods, taking things out of context and misrepresenting the situation by concentrating on anti-Maduro demonstrators. The camera records only what it’s pointed at.
However, since the country is polarized, Washington may well have a chance in overthrowing Maduro. It remains to be seen if it will succeed. If it does, then even the anti-Maduro opposition will regret it happened, as the country will have been reversed to the pre-Chavez period.
There’s a certain laxness in the tropics.
By and large, people do not seek challenge or extremely ambitious accomplishment there.
They seek ease, comfort, sociability.
In the Caribbean,in 1976 the French owner of the simple sloop I hitched a ride on for a couple of weeks visited a local school teacher living in a hut by the sea on some small island in the Grenadines, very close to Venezuela.
After cordial greetings, the french father and his early twenties son listened sympathetically to the local man complain about how his morning of peaceful reef diving had been rudely disturbed by a telephone call from school administration. He seemed to have almost nothing and want almost nothing—-except enjoying the calm sunny sea that morning….with no modern annoying intrusions into his space, thank you very much!.
The teacher was barefoot, shirtless, wearing nothing but quickly drying light fabric shorts suitable for lounging about all day and taking a dip or two in the sea if the temperature should climb a few degrees above normal and the tradewinds pause.
The French father and son were dressed the same for the two weeks I was with them and were a deep, shirtless brown…all the time. They were there—the father for several years already…..a sea gypsy….. for something that that local teacher had, but was in some fear of losing to modern life’s intrusions.
Or to get away from something else.
Somehow I can’t imagine either one of them in a yellow vest demonstration in France…although the dad might have been a demonstrator in 1968. But I never asked him. As a seeker, but I hadn’t found politics yet, as I didn’t consider the version presented to be real, and I wasn’t looking for any other version yet, either, at that point in the mid-seventies.
I can relate to Georgy’s geographical/mental reorientation.
It’s a very different deal down there, in a plethora of ways.
The oil is a mixed blessing, a complication. And the Conundrum of the Venezuelans living on top of those reserves attracts the unwelcome and welcome interest of very contrasting powers from much further north.
It is still possible for an individual to disconnect here and there for some intervals of time, off the beaten path.
But on the whole the possibilities of entire distinct societies connecting, infinitely more, is inexorably on the rise. For either dependent underdevelopment……or more independent, “richer” development, their own sovereign way…..if they can discover….. and defend that way.
No easy thing!
please email me at [email protected] …herb
I would challenge anyone with an open mind to look around their house and notice how much stuff they have that they don’t need or will never use again. The garage sales are a perfect example of this. People waist a lot of energy in collected “stuff”. In the tropics the climate gives you the option to do away with a lot of stuff and still have a pleasant day relaxing.
Whenever I read comments along the lines of “Maduro must go” I actually wonder if such commenters have understood at all what multipolarity and respect for sovereign states means as such comments reek of the very imperialism Venezuela is trying to resist. Calling for Maduro’s ouster is unwittingly saying the same thing as Elliot Abrams. Leave Maduro alone. He was voted in. It’s the Venezuelans who decide, not us.
Indeed if we did have a planet of 190 or so independent sovereign states such commenters would have a field day listing all the governments they disapprove of and which leaders should go !
In the Michael Hudson interview, the Saker asked him what Maduro should do to which he replied
“I cannot think of anything that President Maduro can do that he is not doing”
Michael Hudson also listed a range of criminal behaviours against Venezuela by the Anglo Zionists regimes and we can see therefore that Venezuela is probably doing all it can to thwart it’s destruction by these thoroughly malevolent forces.
Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, China and Russia all have different types of government.
We support their right to exist independent of outside control and interference unless they aggress against other nations which none of these aforementioned countries have. That is the bottom line.
Venezuela’s one mistake might be in not having gone full 100% socialist, nationalising everything, and kicking out the capitalists completely similar to North Korea. But then no doubt that would have incurred even more criticism.
We should unequivocally focus on the utter criminality of the Anglo Zionists and unequivocally support Venezuela respecting it’s fairly elected president and the country’s sovereignty. They have their own election schedules and will choose whom they wish without outsiders trying to impose their will doubtless for their own vested interest reasons
Look at what happened to Ukraine 5 years ago exactly, a catastrophe caused by the people being persuaded to disown their elected government and fed the lie that they would be better off if they did so. Yanokovych was ousted even though Ukraine had democratic elections planned for early 2015. Yes there was corruption but nothing like they have now. Hell, Russia has corruption. Should Putin go? Then what?
Ukraine today is everybody’s future tomorrow if we don’t unite and stand up for the total unequivocal right of all countries to self determination.
Apart from anything else the reason why we should support Venezuela (with help but not interference, something the Russians are very mindful of to their credit) is this –
Whilst it may not have occurred to some commenters the fact is that this deeply malevolent globalist entity that is preying on Venezuela is also doing the exact same thing to the country you live in wherever you are.
If not today, then you are Venezuela tomorrow. They want the whole planet, not just Venezuela.
Thank you; I couldn’t agree more.
”Maduro must go” and its Syrian equivalent of ”Assad must go” are little more than braindead cant. It is passed down from On High to be parroted by the wider public. Works fairly well in the West; less so outside of it.
And I can’t help observing if I may that while every western journalist is poring over Venezuela searching for all it’s shortcomings and flaws not a word appears in print about it’s next door neighbour, Colombia a complete hell hole compared to Venezuela .
A researcher notes that “the country’s continuing downward spiral into drug-fueled and politically-motivated violence has caused little concern in Washington, offering yet another clear indication that the U.S.’ current posturing on Venezuela is hardly motivated by concerns about “democracy,” “human rights,” or the welfare of the Venezuelan people.”
She goes on,
“the country is becoming increasingly lawless, with cocaine production reaching new record levels and the government sanctioning the mass murder of the country’s largest indigenous group. Not only that but since Colombia’s new president, Iván Duque, came to power late last year, the number of indigenous social leaders who have been murdered has spiked to the highest levels in over a decade.”
Why do we never see any articles about that?
The author goes on making the obvious point.
“Ultimately, the lack of media coverage of Colombia’s humanitarian crises, is a telling example of how such crises are regularly weaponized by governments and media to exclusively target governments it wishes to pressure or overthrow,” while turning a blind eye to worse acts when committed by an allied nation.”
“The United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP) has described the Colombian military — which has been armed and trained for decades by the U.S. under the Clinton era policy known as “Plan Colombia” — as being among “the biggest heroin and cocaine trading institutions.”
Here’s perhaps why the US regime is silent on Colombia –
“There are also indications of the U.S. government’s own involvement in the Colombian cocaine trade. For example For example, Colombia’s most notorious drug trafficker, Pablo Escobar, at one point worked for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, according to Escobar’s own children. Escobar allegedly sold cocaine for the CIA to help the U.S. government finance its fight against communism and left-wing governments in Latin America.
The U.S.’ anti-drug efforts in Colombia were never intended to eradicate cocaine, but instead alter the market share by ensuring that allies of the U.S. in Colombia – the Colombian government, paramilitaries and the wealthy elite who are favorable to U.S. business interests – could monopolize the drug trade with no competition from outsiders”
So the US traffics in dangerous drugs to get money to fund war on democratically elected socialist Venezuela.
Not just drugs, but genocide against their own people –
“However, since 2011, Colombia has been the site of ongoing genocide against the country’s largest indigenous group – the Wayuú – in the country’s Guajira region, after the Colombian government diverted their only source of water to support the operations of the country’s – and continent’s – largest coal mine”.
Who owns the coal mine?
“The most likely reason for the erasure of the slow genocide of the Wayuú from Western media is the fact that the Cerrejón mine is a largely a U.S.-backed operation
The suffering of the Wayuú, who have reported the deaths of at least 14,000 children due to the lack of clean water, has gone unreported by the same outlets that routinely raise concern about lack of essential goods in Venezuela.”
And we are told Venezuelans are fleeing to Colombia. Is this even true?
“Notably, the Colombian Wayuú have been immigrating to the Wayuú community in Venezuela in order to avoid the slow death caused by malnutrition, lack of water, and waterborne illnesses from the polluted water from the community’s remaining wells. The Venezuelan Wayuú have been largely supportive of Chavismo and have backed the Maduro-led government, referring to U.S.-backed opposition protests as violent riots “intended to create chaos.” The Huffington Post noted in 2017 that the Wayuú’s support for Maduro had largely been erased by the Western media because it “does not match up with the media’s anti-Venezuelan government narrative.”
And it goes on –
“Despite Duque’s having come to power just last August, El Tiempo recently reported that the murders of indigenous leaders in the country have spiked to levels unseen in over a decade since Duque became Colombia’s president. According to data cited by El Tiempo, 120 indigenous social leaders – as well as human-rights defenders — have been murdered in cold blood during Duque’s first 100 days in office.”
Duque’s predecessor was just as bad –
“Under Uribe’s presidency, the Colombian military massacred thousands of civilians — such as in the “false positives” scandal where the Colombian military dressed up an estimated 5,000 civilians in guerilla clothing and killed them in cold blood, subsequently gaining a bonus from Uribe’s government for the sinister act.”
Any calls for Duque to step down? None that I can see. What happened to all this concern about the poor suffering people? Only those in Venezuela it seems.
George Zotov has written a detailed article on Venezuela.( along with hundreds of other pundits) I hope he will now visit other South American countries and analyse them in as great detail as he has here .
proper reference to Colombia..it is indeed a hell-hole, has been so for a very long time. Colombia is a candidate for social explosion as we speak.
leading a charge against Venezuela could lite Colombia on fire too..just like that
“no doubt the Americans are taking pains to make sure that does not happen but the best lain plans of men and…..”
Colombia is a thanatocracy, a death-squad state where murder and killing is regime policy, just like Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela itself, etc, at one of more times over the last 200 years, all under the tutelage of Uncle Satan sitting on his bloody throne in Thanatopolis DC. How the presstitutes get away with portraying the USA as representing moral good in the world is a mystery to me. I do know that if anyone appears in the fakestream media here, and dares mention even a tiny fraction of this record of Evil and terror, the presstitutes react with fearful hysteria to the Thought Crime, lest they be judged guilty by association or lack of fervour in denouncing the Badthink. The same, of course, extends to mentioning the Evil deeds of the British Empire or of Israel.
I’d add the comment that there is today (Saturday Feb. 9th) an article in “La Jornada” (to my opinion the best Mexican newspaper, left oriented) by Luis Hernández Navarro (a famous Mexican activist and reporter) directly from Caracas and what he writes confirms perfectly what Georgy Zotov write. There is no humanitarian crisis, and most people strongly support the Bolivarian Revolution. Real poverty was before Chavez. He doesn’t write that Venezuela is a paradise, but which Latina American country is ? (certainly not Mexico even though it has everything to be a paradise). There is a crisis, hard to find money, but restaurants are full, there are street markets and stores with enough supplies, people go to work normally, …
Here is the article (in Spanish):
La vida cotidiana en Venezuela lejos de una crisis humanitaria
(“Everyday life in Venezuela far from a humanitarian crisis”)
[I know I should translate it for you but I’m lazy :( ]
RE: They can’t even do a psy-op correctly.
The bridge over which supposedly the “humanitarian” aid was blocked by
Venezuela is a bridge which was built recently, never inaugurated and has been chained off by Colombia for over a two years. Everyone in Latin American knows it is “un show-medial” and if it does come in the CIA-CNN types will merely open the truck doors to show presumably starving people rushing to loot in seeming desperation which is why the Venezolanos are not playing the game. Except for Gweedo Gusano.
Works well as a show back in home base-looneyland.
Venezuela is full of land and water resources…
anyone with access to a bit of land can feed themselves if they want to
more so if it becomes a government program
instead of free benefits of/for imports local production could be given incentive by creative benefits instead
but early and late the answers lies in general ownership of Venezuela’s means. and the best way to accomplish that is by worker co-ops.
bring in Mondregon
Excellent article. What is missing though is the fact that anyone of my generation, who knows something about life in eastern block in Europe knows that what’s described here is actually no different. Except for cheap gas of course. Somehow communists can’t prevent black market from flourishing, simply because they create fictitious value for their currency, which in a way is explainable because this is how “wall street” destroys their targets, by driving target’s currency down to ground, and thus internal prices up, which in turn drives the discontent and anger against the government up.
I do not think Maduro is doing anything wrong, he simply tries to make sure that life’s necessities are available to the people. He has to weather the storm, just like Chavez did. He has to keep a watchful eye on the provocateurs, so he does not have to face maidan II. Unfortunately for him Cuba is going through a political change, thus I suspect it can’t help him, or maybe it does quietly.
The pictures in the stores remind me of a trip I took to Russia in 1990 when just after Yeltsin stood on the tank. We were carefully chauffeured through stores packed with merchandise and our first impression was that things were going very well. But two days later, I took a unscheduled run through town only to find all the stores that were packed with people and goods, were completely empty, with only a few cabbages and bottle of vodka.
Our translator and handler was very upset with my run and knew all about where I had been when I got back.
The 4 hour flight I took on Aeroflot to get to my destination only cost $4.50. And when I found things in the stores, no one else wanted them.
The taxi driver filling his vehicle for less that 2 cents US is not economically rational and must require long lines at other non sanctioned stations. (because if it costs a bundle of 200 Bolivars for a Coke, then gasoline should be flowing like water at 2 Bolivars to fill a tank….
Socialists always believe that they can somehow defeat a law of nature, namely the Law of Supply and Demand…
As usual, Very SAD!
A very illuminating reporting. And it confirms the usual lies used by the US gov to justify regime change that invariably will result in civil war, extreme bloodshed followed by the takeover of the county’s assets by a few on behalf of US corporations and extreme poverty for the people. Ukraine, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. etc. show how it is done.
Thank you for showing the reality and in some way Maduro’s courage in refusing humanitarian aid for a situation caused by sanctions and not by bad government. While Maduro isn’t a good leader, there is no reason to believe that Guaido will be any better or less corrupt. And the US interference really causes the problem the US claims it needs to solve by toppling one more independent government.
you know…the more I read and move around the world, the more I wonder why can’t we just simply divorce each other.
You go this way with your baggage and I go the other with mine.
see each other in five and discuss what we learned.
Thank you so much for taking the time to demistify things in the fog of war! The U.S. government has a repeated history of lying and backing the mist brutal groups throughout history, all over the world, with the White Helmets being a recent example, always claiming, jumanitarian purposes, of course, because the U.S. government first tries to win the U.S. hearts and minds war, prior to boots on the ground. If we can defeat them in the battle of hearts and minds, by teloing the truth, as you, Vanessa Beeley, and Tom Duggan have done, perhaps we can avoid an actual war in Venezuela!
here is a price list.
It is still true that millions have fled the Country. One expat said his sister who is still there lost so much weight, she looks like a concentration camp victim. The U.S. currently has an enormous surplus of cheese, about 1.3 billion pounds of it. If the U.S., the Russians, and the Cubans can stop bad-mouthing one another, and work together, we could have Russian ships deliver the cheese and then the Cubans who speak the language can distribute it. This is what would happen if we lived in world where there was more emotional and spiritual maturity.
Your story is fake. You are serving your mate Putin. Besides, Caracas isn’t Venezuela and you are not showing where the majority gets its food. Where I am, there is only coca cola and ketchup filling up the shelves.