Pedro’s Story: “Through my Hands”
“They say that memories are life and I think that there is a bit of truth in those words, but a strange feeling also comes with them, a little bit of longing and a lot of frustration when you realize that you can no longer change something in the story of your life.
I even feel a bit of nostalgia when I see how my life has deteriorated so much by causes that are beyond my control and which I never planned for, and that’s why I’m calling my story “Through my Hands.”
If you try to hold on to water, no matter how much you press your fist, no matter how hard you try to squeeze it, water will always slip through your hands. Unfortunately, that’s how I feel nowadays. My story, as well as the story of millions of Venezuelans, is slipping through my hands right here and right now.
My name is Pedro, a common name for an average man. I’m a Venezuelan who loves his Venezuelan roots so deeply that he has decided to stay and try to escape the destiny that others, meaning, the people who rule Venezuela, have decided is the life we Venezuelans deserve.
I’m a senior citizen or “adulto mayor” as they call people over 60 years old here. We worked hard every day for so many years to pay for our needs, our food, our clothing, homes, our treats or whatever we liked and now we can barely eat to survive.
Venezuela is a great country full of natural resources. It’s a country that had lots of opportunities for everyone and a country where we used to live in brotherhood. A country with good and friendly people who, whenever you went to visit them, no matter who you were or how long they knew you, they would welcome you with offerings of food and drink and their friendship. That’s who we Venezuelans used to be, but now we cannot do that anymore, we simply can’t afford it.
Not all stories have a happy ending. For many reasons I won’t be discussing here, 2 decades ago, Venezuela went through a transition in the political direction of the country. The people believed the promises of change to introduce social reform that would result in real equality for its inhabitants and that’s what they called Socialism of the XXI Century.
Such a political doctrine, which isn’t far from being a plain, evil dictatorship, has resulted in immense decay for the country and its people. We’ve lost the power to acquire, have seen astonishing restrictions in our liberties, have seen our dignity stolen and witnessed how, slowly but surely, Venezuelans’ quality of life has been taken out of our own hands.
Where to begin the story is sort of a puzzle, there are so many things to say, but I will start with the basics:
The ability of the Venezuelan people to cover their verybasic needs has been endangered. We live in a country where hyperinflation, shortages and the lack of national production are a daily reality.
Before the political change Venezuela suffered 20 years ago, Venezuela was a productive and prosperous country and used to export a myriad of national products to many countries worldwide. We acted according to the laws of supply and demand, and we were all living happily in a country that, despite a high crime rate, was nearly paradise. That’s why it’s so true to say that you don’t know what you have until you lose it, really.
What happened next, in my humble opinion, is that the government tried to indoctrinate the people through the education system. This approach can also be seen in Cuban-Castro Communism and, as with all military regimes, uses the force of authority, with anyone daring to think differently than they are told suffering the consequences.
Little by little, the government took possession of all the state powers (legislative, executive and judiciary) and established absolute control, creating a nation that was military, socialist and anti-capitalist, although, of course, civil servants working for the government, along with all of their close friends and families, can enjoy unimaginable wealth inside and outside the country.
The average Venezuelan still living here, in Venezuela, has not enjoyed the same luck. There is no paper money, in other words, no cash. Imagine all the things you have to do in order to pay for food or medication, which are already so scarce they are sold on the black market at unaffordable prices and most of the time for cash. Imagine having to buy rice on the black market, or milk or bread?
Inflation has already exceeded one million percent, which means that what used to cost you Bs. 1 now costs Bs. 1,000,000, and there are some areas in which this hyperinflation is even more pronounced.
Needless to say, the unemployment rate in Venezuela is at an astonishingly high rate, in many ways, due to the closing of about 5,000 businesses and industries which the government has expropriated from the private sector. That makes our survival a struggle, and I said survival, not life, intentionally.
Such a dramatic situation has been a black cloud moving over other countries as well and covering Latin America; metastasizing like cancer, especially in the countries bordering our frontiers. Millions of Venezuelans have left the country in search of a better future, and, even worse but true, many have left to be able to work somewhere else where they can send money back home for their families to survive, for their kids not to die of hunger.
Thanks to the help that the fortunate ones receive from our loved ones, those who are now living very far away, going through very hard times themselves, we can just barely survive. Thanks to that financial help, we can afford to buy food even if it has to be from a scalper on the black market and at a criminally high price.
Of course, security has deteriorated to an alarming degree, with crime in Venezuela being among the highest in the world. Criminals are armed better than the police department, and police officers are easily bribed, even by gangs or our own government, which leaves your average citizen stranded and at the mercy of fate.
(...to be continued…)
In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)
Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey
January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan
February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asryan
March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez
April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Toni Wallis
May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko
June: A Girl Pedaling – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas
July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk
August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido
September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández
October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino
November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake
December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva
Background – Context
Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)
L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)
From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)
More work by Veronica Cordido
The Crib of Uncertainty – Veronica Cordido (transposing emblem)
Instability, A Stable Reality – Veronica Cordido (transposing emblem)
Hanging by Extremes – Veronica Cordido (transposing emblem)
Emblems and stories on the international community
Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world
Cover photo: Caracas, Venezuela – Golden hour – Luisana Zerpa (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed