This blurred country, full of apostates of memory, is going through a sad history filled with paradoxes. Do you know some of them? I’ll tell you about the most recent one: In Venezuela, according to the latest ECLAC data, the school dropout rate is 35% and the monthly salary of a university professor barely reaches 15 dollars. However, in Caracas, the country’s capital, a building representing one of the most luxurious and famous fashion brands on the continent has just been inaugurated, and the Caribbean Baseball Series has just concluded, for which the government built a stadium that includes VIP stands with jacuzzies, among other onerous additions.
Take note of the following: Venezuela currently has a dollarised economy that has been suffering a hyperinflationary process since 2017 that has reached a rate of 1370 % year-on-year and that places the cost of the food basket for a family group of 5 people at 356 US dollars. Given that the average basic monthly salary is 6 US dollars, is it true that it is worth asking how a family manages to live in a dignified way in this country? No, it hasn’t been fixed, as the most recent government slogan proclaims, repeated like chickens clucking by more than a few Venezuelans inside and outside the country, who either give in to exhaustion and conformity with what there is, or cling to an illusion manipulated by political actors who are still the same as always, or who seek the same thing.
Is this really an indicator of a “fix” for any country?
The truth is that the political doctrine injected by Chavism gave shape to a state that privileges absolute and arbitrary control of the bodies that determine the social, political, economic and cultural life of the country, strengthening the exercise of autocracy, the cult of personality and positivist dogma, based on the rescue of a national identity that bases political rights on “indisputable social and historical facts”, or in other words, on the empowerment of an extreme nationalism.
With the death of Chávez and the rise of Nicolás Maduro to power in 2013, Venezuela became a powder keg, a country in turmoil, a country that is deteriorating structurally, politically and socially by leaps and bounds. State violence, government corruption and the maintenance of a paternalistic socio-economic model driven by ideological falsehood are the main causes of this degradation.
From 2013 to 2019, according to data from the Venezuelan Programme for Human Rights Education and Action (PROVEA, by its acronym in Spanish) and the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict, there have been 250 deaths due to the actions of “security forces and paramilitary groups” during the various anti-government protest marches.
Venezuelan emigration, which reached one million people during the Chávez government (1998 to 2012), has increased sevenfold in Maduro’s term, from 2013 to 2021, and now exceeds 7 million, according to the most recent UNHCR report, which says: “People continue to leave Venezuela to flee violence, insecurity, threats and lack of food, medicine and essential services. With more than 7.13 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela, this has become one of the largest displacement crises in the world”. The best way to measure the impact of this emigration is through the latest population census conducted by the National Institute of Statistics: Venezuela has a population of 28,704,947 million inhabitants. This means that almost 25% of the population has emigrated, and although the government tries to position another of its slogans: “Venezuela is fixed” and propagate to the four winds that its “Return to the Homeland” plan, created in 2018, has repatriated some 30,000 Venezuelans, this represents only 0.42% of the Venezuelan migratory exodus.
And here arises another of the paradoxes of this country full of apostates of memory: This action leaves no doubt that Venezuelan emigration, at least intuitively, obeys more the Bolivarian doctrine than the self-styled “Bolivarian” government itself, as it responds to the warning made by Simón Bolívar on January 2, 1814 in a speech delivered at the Franciscan Religious Convent: ¨Flee from the country where only one exercises all powers: it is a country of slaves¨.
In the midst of this terrible crisis, Venezuela is losing fundamental freedoms, press freedom has been hit hard: out of a total of 90 media outlets that still existed in 2014, only thirty remain, and all of them operate under state surveillance. Since 2002, according to a report by the Instituto de Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela (IPYSve), 18 press workers have been murdered, and in 2020 alone, 215 cases of arbitrary detentions, intimidation and forced disappearances of reporters and photojournalists were documented.
Currently, when Maduro’s government and the weakened Venezuelan opposition sit at the table to negotiate a way out of the crisis, in Mexico – a country that according to the RSF report ranks first with the highest number of journalists murdered in 2022, 17 total – it is worrying that the agenda does not include the discussion of violations of fundamental freedoms, with press freedom and freedom of expression as a banner, especially since in Venezuela we will soon enter an electoral process that is perceived to be increasingly uninformed.
Another worrying issue is the situation of children. Venezuela’s children face an economic and humanitarian crisis that threatens their best chances of development and well-being, under a government that does not seem to care about the risks they run. The National Survey of Living Conditions (Encovi, by its acronym in Spanish) of the Catholic University Andres Bello has just revealed that the 2021-2022 school year resumed with fewer students, after the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At least 1.5 million children and adolescents stopped going to school. In addition to the pandemic, students do not consider it important to attend classes because they do not see it as an opportunity for self-improvement, in a country where the slogan seems to be “Up with ignorance, down with education”.
As a consequence of all this, many families have opted for emigration. And the main driving force behind this emigration is the search for a better future for their children, in addition to other obligatory conditions.
The truth is that Venezuela has not been sorted out; the truth is that it is alone and the victim of some paradoxes that are even laughable. I remember now that other slogan of Comandante Hugo Chávez, with which he stentoriously justified the debacle: “We have a homeland”. Well, now we have Avanti.