For you to understand the dimensions of this story, I will tell you what happened to me yesterday, Friday, September 28, 2018.
On this day, we, the retirees, get our pension from the bank.
Due to the huge shortage of currency in Venezuela right now, I woke up very early, hoping I would be there early enough to get some cash at least. I was already on my way to the bank by 6:30 a.m. since, mind you, I must travel to another state because there are no banks in this small town, and, despite departing at the crack of dawn, I ran into trouble.
The problem is that, due to the absence of cash, the insecurity that we live with every day and the lack of spare parts plus their high cost mean that public transportation in Venezuela is a thing of the past.
I waited for over 2 hours at the bus stop and only 3 buses came, not enough for even half of the people who were waiting to commute. Since this is a common problem nowadays, there’s a new means of transportation now; trucks that are designed to transport construction materials and even livestock, trucks that are designed to carry 350, 600 and 750 heavy units are now being used for the mass commuting of humans.
I had seen it before and swore I would never hop onto one of those in my life, but as the saying goes: “never say never” and in the middle of my desperation and having no other viable option, I hopped on a truck like a cow or a pig, cramped in with 99 Venezuelans more. No matter what I say or write, unless you live it, you can never imagine what it’s like to be so humiliated, so hopeless, so helpless.
Things didn’t end there, though. Once I got to the bank, it was swarming with so many people, so many retirees like me. Then I remembered that the Government of Venezuela, due to the lack of cash, had set that specific day for retirees to get their whole pension, so I waited for hours. The bank lost their line for about one hour and, by the time that it was my turn, I had already waited for five hours and they were low on cash. So, in the end, they gave me half of what I was supposed to receive.
Tired from standing in a line for so long, with no seats, no food, no water, I went back, in resignation, to the place where you catch a truck or a bus to go back home, but this time, because it was late, they were charging 4.5 to 6 times more than the regular price, and there was still no spot and a long wait. Luckily for me, although this doesn’t sound lucky at all, I am in very good shape and, at 62 years old, I was able to hop on a small bus and hang myself from the door, with my body dangling halfway out, and finally I made it back home.
I spent a total of 12 hours on my feet, in unbearable heat, with nothing to eat or drink but some sugared water, just to receive half of what I should have gotten for my pension as a retiree. A whole day of my life gone in this precarious way, and that happens every day. Do you think that the elder should endure the treatment that we are currently receiving here? This is an issue of human rights, and it should concern the world.
And just to wrap it up with an important point that affects all migrating and undocumented Venezuelans worldwide who simply do not have a choice:
I have had an expired Identity Card for the past 3 years and there’s no way that SAIME, The Venezuelan Government institution in charge of issuing IDs and passports will renew it, and, as for my old passport? They held on to it when I went in for a renewal, and I’ve been waiting on it for the same long 3 years. And why is that? If you ask me? They want to hold us all prisoners; they don’t want the world to see what’s really happening.
There are already more than 5 million Venezuelans who have recently left the country, which has taken a heavy toll on the countries hosting our massive exodus. The situation that Venezuela has been going through is unprecedented and it’s threatening all of Latin America. I don’t think they want us to go. I think they want us to die and that’s what scares me the most, to die alone. Ironically, it’s only thanks to their help that I can live here and survive, but all my family has already left, my sister, my nieces… I’m already 62, poor and undocumented, not by my will, but by force, and I don’t want to die alone.
And as I write this, I don’t know what I’ll eat today since I’m out of cooking gas. Venezuela, the country with the highest oil reserves worldwide has a shortage of cooking gas, car oil and even gasoline at times. And that’s how I feel, like the tittle of my story, where all I can do is sit and watch how my life and my future slips through my hands no matter how tightly I try to hold on to it. My name is Pedro, and I’m your average senior male citizen trying to survive in Venezuela.”
(…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 – Liberator avenue – Johanna Wallace (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed