Bit By Bit

 Today’s preamble to Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole will be a little different, more anecdotal,more of just what I saw. It all happened bit by bit so it was easy not to notice at first but eventually it was inescapable.

 My pool sat perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean.It was idyllic and peaceful with the rustling of the fronds from the coconut palms and the iguanas cruising by. It was the same almost every day. It took me a while but I realized over time that it wasn’t quite the same.

 It had been quite some time since I had seen an iguana.Hmmm… The coconuts from the coconut palms were not around either.Hmmm… And the mango tree nearest to my condo didn’t have a whole lot of mangoes on it.Hmmm…What gives? You guessed it…they were being eaten by the workers in our community.

 Over time I began to see less and less of the shrubbery and small trees that comprised much of my surroundings.It turned out that the workers were cutting down anything that would burn due to the shortage of cooking gas for their homes.

 I used to see the guards checking the garbage for the large three liter water bottles which they used for making ice.Eventually they weren’t looking for water bottles anymore. They were looking for food.Security guards at our complex used to earn a decent living.Now they were digging in the garbage for something to eat because all their money went to feed their families.

 I also noticed they were getting mighty slim.It turned out that the year before I really began noticing it the average Venezuelan lost twenty pounds. They called it ” The Maduro Diet.”

 As I would drive through the small villages near me I would always see a lot of street dogs. Not anymore.They were an easy food source.These people were starving!! And this was years ago….And this continues today.

 Now, on with Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole….

 …..The Guarimba,as it was called, was exemplified by protesters carrying signs “Maduro We Are Hungry” or simply “Starvation!”It was typically barricaded streets and burning tires,the common manifestation in Venezuela.The repression by the Maduro regime was brutal.

 Unfortunately for the Venezuelans the situation received very little international coverage.At the time this was happening Russia annexed The Crimea so the focus of the world was thousands of miles away.

 Over the next year or so stories surfaced about the lack of food and medicine as well as the human rights violations so then President Obama initiated the first sanctions. They were targeted at individuals and were meant to pressure Maduro to address the situation.In keeping with his M.O. Maduro denied the humanitarian problem,blamed the dead and wounded in the demonstrations on right wing conspiracy (sound familiar) and US imperialism and did nothing for the Venezuelan people.

 When Donald Trump became president he continued the Obama sanctions and added more and more individuals over several years in an effort to get Maduro to change course and care for his people. The result was the same,as it always is with these authoritarian types, more bluster and denial and Venezuelans continued to die.

 In 2017 tensions boiled over as Venezuelans continued starving and dying and another round of mass protests erupted. The repression ratcheted up and 140 people were killed,more than 1,500 wounded,and thousands more arrested. This time the world was distracted by North Korea firing missiles so,once again,Venezuela was a secondary issue.Conditions stayed the same for the Venezuelan people. The only change in behavior from the government was they finally defaulted on some of their bonds as the government was,for all intents and purposes,going broke.Due to oil revenues there was cash flow.There were also a number of countries and international organizations offering help for the Venezuelan people. Maduro still refused to do anything for his people,just more denial and bluster.

 To be continued…..




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