Hanging by Extremes

Transposing emblem by Veronica Cordido

The people of Venezuela are divided into two political groups – Chavismo and the opposition. There has been extreme violence with riots in multiple parts of the country where over 100 people have died so far in protests. Students throw stones and Molotov cocktails as the army shoots rubber bullets, and sometimes real bullets, aimed point black at the heads and faces of the first line of protesters. Some have been run over by tanks and others have almost lost their lives from the force of water cannons. News of all this has circled the world through pictures, and it is just a typical day, nowadays, in the capital of Caracas.

And then there is extreme criminality as well, so extreme, that it’s common for armed motorcyclists to rob cars adjacent to them as you wait at a traffic light. Most people look away and let the robbery happen. It has become so common and so dangerous that we feel helpless. And what about the police? They might not want to get involved either. Criminals are better trained and armed than cops are and in some cases they are even neighbors who “run” the same block.

As if all this is not enough, we have extreme corruption, an extremely dysfunctional economy, extreme hyperinflation, extreme shortages of food and medicine, extreme poverty, extreme suffering, extreme chaos and, as never before, even extremist Islamic groups like Hezbollah.

There have been 173 official cases where it has been determined that Venezuela, a country that is not able to issue passports to its own people due to lack of supplies and working equipment, has issued Venezuelan documentation to people with ties to Islamic extremists to travel to other countries with Venezuelan documents.

In addition, Venezuelans have been exposed to an extreme socio-economic meltdown over the last few years. Middle-class families have disappeared; they have become part of the colossal impoverishment of the country and have no access to foreign currencies, while upper-class families have grown richer from doing business in a foreign currency, especially in dollars and euros.

There have been many people who, in order to avoid extreme poverty, have decided to “traffic” food and other scarce items and sell them on the black market at “scalpers” prices. It is illegal for anyone except the government to sell “regulated” products, which are those products distributed only by the government and at controlled prices and quantities due to their scarcity.

There is also a marked division between the opposition and supporters of the regime. The food basket that the government gives out to the people can only be obtained by holders of a special card called: “Carnet de la Patria,” which is only given to Chavistas and Maduristas who then are forced to vote for the regime and do lots of pro-government things such as marching, protesting and wearing their symbols and apparel. If not? The government threatens, the government punishes, the government sets up and imprisons.

When it comes to the economy, hyperinflation reached one million percent this year according to Forbes. Most Venezuelans now live way below the poverty line, and I would even say that many are living way below that, they are living in postwar conditions.

Why do I say that? Because the official state of being in poverty does cover meals, meaning, you are probably able to semi-afford food, a one dollar meal perhaps? In Venezuela, however, there is no food, and the food you can find, is sold at dollar prices and only the lucky Venezuelan who is able to make $10 a month, definitively not what you earn under the minimum wage, can afford this food.

That has forced thousands of Venezuelans to flee the country, even by foot, walking weeks and weeks to reach neighboring countries, some even dying on the way to get there. And what about those who stay behind? Many are eating out of trash cans when they eat. Others are fainting and giving up their kids since they are unable to feed them. The situation is really extreme. They don’t give up their kids because they don’t love them enough; they give up their kids because they love them too much to witness their death.

Even when it comes to migrating, Venezuela shows its extremes. There are people who have profited from all the scarcity the country faces and have migrated under investor visas while the majority of their fellow Venezuelans must suffer and work illegally, doing what no one wants to do and getting paid what no one would consider enough, only to be able to stay afloat and help those they left behind.

The situation in Venezuela has gotten so extreme that, especially in Caracas, many of the massive, dangerous riots take place in areas neighboring some of Caracas’s major clinics, which more than once have had to raise their “Red Cross flags” to signal a neutral zone and protect their patients from getting bombarded by tear gas and bullets, an act that has not stopped the ongoing bombardment nonetheless. If the government doesn’t stop it, who will?

And perhaps the best example to illustrate the extreme crisis nowadays in Venezuela is the number of kids and adults that lose their lives due to the national emergency in the area of healthcare because of the shortage and even complete lack of hospital supplies and pharmaceutical drugs.

Doctors in Venezuela are heroes and warriors, they operate with the assistance of cellphone flashlights during the constant, countless blackouts that clinics and hospitals experience every day, and they even get jailed and beaten up by government officials when they stand up for their rights and the rights of their patients in the countless protests that take place in the country.

They see people die who they could have easily saved with the help of antibiotics or a catheter, and they are struggling to survive hyperinflation like everyone else since they don’t make any more money than the police officers, the waiters or the bank tellers. They are always hanging by the thread of all the extremes that make Venezuela one of the best examples of the worst type of policy that there is and ever will be. 

            It’s like living in an apocalypse or the outcome of a successful New World Order agenda to diminish the population, as Venezuelans are dying silently and slowly. Venezuelan politicians are murderers. It isn’t the 100+ who have died in protests, it’s the many mothers who have lost their children to a high fever turning into meningitis due to a lack of medicine or the grandparents who have died because they could no longer find or afford their medication. And the list goes on, and on, as we hang by extremes.

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