22 February 2011

Miguel Octavio leaves Venezuela

The routine does not change: get up, head to the bathroom, get dressed, open laptop, read emails, check Miguel's, Daniel's, Francisco's blogs, then Google News Venezuela page. After that, normal life takes over for the remaining of the day. Work, eat, play, etc. Venezuela is the first thing I check in the morning, and the last before shutting the day down. It's been like that since I managed to purchase my first computer, at the beginning of 2002.

There's a purpose to the order in which I check blogs: Miguel is, until last weekend, in Caracas, my town; Daniel is in Yaracuy, still in Venezuela; Francisco? Yesterday Maastricht, today Montreal, tomorrow who knows? Almost certainly not in Caracas, but with both eyes on it. Alas this morning, there's official confirmation of something I knew for quite sometime: Miguel Octavio, esteemed fellow blogger, has moved out of Venezuela. Another great mind, another extremely valuable individual, that takes his business someplace else, for the detriment of Venezuela.

In the last 12 years, that is since the dictator Chavez came to power, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have left a country that had traditionally been a recipient of people running away from thuggish rulers. Argentinians, Chileans, Colombians, and before that, Spaniards, Italians, Portuguese, in the hundreds of thousands, arrived in Venezuela, for it was the land of grace, the land of opportunity. No more. Today, only crooks, criminals, terrorists, fundamentalist fanatics, drug traffickers, and propagandists thrive in the country. No one else. It is impossible to earn a decent living, to live life minding your own, disconnected to the political turmoil of the deranged revolution. Sooner or later, you're victimised, you're touched, regardless. Could be your business, your property, your retirement funds, your car, all material possessions that can be recovered, one way or another. But, and this is the most intolerable thing, it could be your opinions, your ideas, your desire to live free from whimsical and illegal impositions, that can land you into trouble.

In his farewell salvo, Miguel cites "Crime and the absence of the rule of law" as the main reasons for his departure. To people that have never experienced the frustration of having been victimised by a State that systematically encroaches fundamental liberties, the second reason could seem meaningless, the stuff of snobs. But let me tell you, crime is the lesser of the two. Crime, one can deal with, personally. One has, at the very least, the capacity to try and work a way out of it, either by confronting assaulting parties, shooting back, driving or running away, or whatever solution comes to mind.

But how about getting a visit from utterly corrupt officials, telling you, with a straight face, that what's yours is no longer yours? How about the omnipotent president of the country, coming on TV, and saying, that following the letter of the law will land you in jail? How about the general in command of the armed forces, who happens to be an associate of terrorists organisations, saying unmoved that your vote is not valid? And worse of all, how about realising that there's absolutely no instance for redress in the land? No courts, no enforcement authorities? That, or the absolute absence of rule of law, is what makes living in Venezuela an inviable proposition. Is not the crime, the inflation, or the lack of opportunities. Rather, is the certainty that there's nowhere to go, to get redress,  no instance to bring criminals to justice, no hope of getting a fair hearing or trial whatsoever.

That's what makes Venezuela an unliveable place.

And I disagree with both Miguel and Daniel that our work is done. It isn't. There's very many 'Venezuela pundits' alright, there's many analysts/journalists/academics, etc., that think that reading the news for three months, a couple of books and a paper, makes them 'experts'. The literature about Venezuela's political situation being published is almost entirely produced by such characters, individuals that, with all due respect, don't get it. While I will agree that there's a lot of noise, and that many have realised that Chavez is not the saviour of the downtrodden, very few in the international community really understand what's going on in the ground. Nearly all refer to Chavez simplistically, as this cartoonish and incapable of harm buffoon, that's squandering the country's wealth with his harebrained populist socialist revolution. No one's talking about tonnes of drugs that enter the international markets thanks to Chavez connivance with FARC. No one wants to talk about his protection of internationally wanted terrorists. Not even Colombia, which has suffered an internal conflict with narco terrorists guerrillas that has had a tremendous human cost, wants to call Chavez number.

Therefore, Miguel's reporting from the ground, independent, unPC, factual, will be sorely missed.


firepigette said...

I agree with you that the work is not yet done, unless an individual simply feels like he needs to disconnect from it.

The opportunity to know from the inside the development of Chavismo and the meaning of this for the world at large, is replete with pertinent and important themes that need to be discussed.Themes that go way beyond just a recounting of events.Why did this happen? How did this happen? What can be done for future generations?Just knowing it is happening is not good enough, though it is an important part.

The world is still full of lies, poor journalism,and factions who connect with each other to gain power.There are scary connections between Chavez and other worldwide criminal groups.The end is nowhere near in sight.Even here in the US I still see plenty of people who are not convinced that Chavez is all that bad.The propaganda is horrendous and deep.They think he is a bit crazy but still blame the opposition more than they do Chavez.These are people from the not so far left.Just ordinary folk.Friends of mine on facebook even.People who will take anybody's side to be be able to side against the US.The 'US' has become the scapegoat for all the little children who refuse to grow up and take care of their own affairs.

As for reasons to leave....when you have children I think crime trumps.I had teenagers when Chavez came into power, and crime began to worsen- their friends began to thin out mercilessly.It is hard to tell kids they simply cannot go out of the house at that age.For an older person alone, the reasons you mention loom very large.

Informative Politics said...

Alek this is absolutely correct. I am currently focusing my thesis in Venezuela (my native country) and surprisingly have found many more books than I expected supporting and encouraging the Chavez regime... Not to mention, I am taking a class that is focused around women's human rights, my professor is Colombian and praises Chavez!! I still can't believe the audacity most people have when they talk about the 'goodness' of Chavez. Needless to say, for kicks I will also be writing a paper on the 'leftist movement' and see if maybe it is just me going crazy; (hopefully not) and instead be re-assured that socialism just doesn't work! .You'd think we'd learn from history.

Charly said...

"Crime, one can deal with, personally. One has, at the very least, the capacity to try and work a way out of it, either by confronting assaulting parties, shooting back, driving or running away, or whatever solution comes to mind."

Please go tell that to the families of the 100,000+ who lost their lives to "hampa" since the XXI century savior came to power.

AB said...

Informative, at this point in time those who still support Chavez, from abroad, are nothing but leftist fundamentalists longing for a return Stalinist soviet communism. Though I get your point, the level of pro Chavez sycophancy here in the UK is just unbelievable. Fortunately, these people also know Mugabe very well, and despise him with a passion, so one only has to draw parallels, and even though internally they keep thinking Chavez is Robin Hood, in public they refrain from giving free rein to idiosyncratic communist nostalgia prevalent in academia.

Charly, I can assure you, among those 100,000 there are many who fell in ajustes de cuentas.