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Maria Gabriela Madrid : An open wound



Sometimes reality surpasses fiction and that is what is happening in a country where the Andeans mountains give the allure of mystery, and unconquered territory. Beaches where the water is as clear that you can see, deep inside your own feet. Sand dunes, oil fields, mineral resources and weather that it is either sunny, or rainy through the year. No matter its beauty, this country also has an open wound. A wound that today is profusely bleeding with a force as strong as the current of the Orinoco River.

Every time I go back to visit, I see my country going further to shambles. In a sign of desperation I sat down with my hands pressing down my forehead. I needed to find an explanation for all the miss information surrounding the ruler of my country, so after getting a pen and a piece of paper, I started to voice out, once more, the precarious situation taking place in Venezuela. The ruler of my country is an articulate man and his many faces have motivated writers, psychologist, and others around the world to write about him. For eleven years he has used the media to manipulate people beliefs and has recreated himself with the ultimate goal of staying in power. Lately, a movie came out about the Socialism of the 21st Century.

The movie portrays him as a revolutionary man that wants the best for its people. Unfortunately, his policies have done the opposite and since the movie was done in a control environment it came out just as another propaganda for the regime. Until now, some people have been fortunate to always have a plate of food over the table, and clothes to wear, but that could change at any minute. The majority of people live outside the ghettos spread all over the country.

They are people that have felt the excruciating pain of having not food to eat, or place to go when they get sick or injured. At the beginning the majority of them supported him. Many fell enchanted by his power of persuasion and believed that change was coming. Full of hope, people waited and waited for some kind of social justice to materialize. It was a time where money was not an issue, because oil was being sold at the highest price ever. As a result, an avalanche of money from oil revenues came in, and everyone thought it would be used to improve the existing dilapidated hospitals, building houses, creating new jobs, provided educational materials and paid long awaited salaries, but instead, corruption took place, and literally suitcases pack with money ended up in other countries. Money that was used to manipulate the results of foreign presidential elections as well as to fund projects in other countries.

While in Venezuela, due to the rampant inflation, people could not longer afford to rent, to buy food, to buy medicines, and to have access to running water and electricity. Even though the current government has had the highest influx of revenues, it is shameful to see that it has constructed fewer houses for the poor than previous governments. Now days, it is common in supermarkets to have lack of products: For awhile there was no meat, or milk, or cheese or rice or toilet paper or else…The same with medicines, so patients under treatment could died due to the scarce of a drug. Tired and with my eyes full of tears, I put the pen down. Not long ago, my father, a victim of emphysema needed so badly a combination of drugs to breath that he almost shock to death. For one week his treatment got suspended until a shipment of the needing drugs arrive at the front door.

Tired and hungry as I was, I felt the roar of my stomach asking for food. After opening the refrigerator, there was not much to eat, but a plate of lentils with no rice. The anticipation of eating them made my mouth drool, and even though it was not as tasty as eating them with rice, I was content, so I finished it and went back to continue writing.

What happened with everyone having a better future?

All the evidence points out that everything has been a lie, and for those that still believe in him, as soon as they found out that they have been lie too, the profound disillusion is going to trigger more revolts.

At the beginning people were astonish to witness how he instigated division and hatred among Venezuelans, so now as a result there are neighborhoods and streets that the opposition cannot visit. Also at the beginning, the government created ambulatory clinics to assist the poor, but now most of them are closed and abandoned. It looks like since he hasn't improved Venezuelans lifestyle, his ultimate goal has always been to have everyone suffering. The middle class is on the verge of disappearing, and despite the false statistics, the current government is increasing the poverty rate.

Everyone buying power has diminished, and for many is not enough to cover their basic needs. This past week the changes in his economic policies will make people poorer and poorer. Stock market offices are closing their doors and Venezuela has become a land where the outlaws walk free. A while ago, videos caught people affiliated with the government killing innocent civilians and after a week went by, the killers were back on the streets. The justice doesn't apply to them. The government like an octopus took over with its tentacles the judicial system and other institutions and in a period of eleven years Venezuela switch to a centralize government where all the power was concentrated to control the existence of its citizens.

Over the years, military forces have increased the acquisition of weapons with the sole purpose of oppressing who ever dissent. Now Venezuelan wound is deeper and deeper and intimidation and the rule of force happen on regular basis. Innocent people have been killed. They were people that just wanted to be heard. They were students, moms, and dads protesting in pacific demonstrations. Not too long ago the government took charge of the oil company (PDVSA) and fired thousands of capable workers. Many marches with crowds of more that two million people took the highways and people screamed against it and demanded justice and freedom of speech.

As a result, the acute sounds of hitting pots and pans became the signature of Venezuelan citizens against the government. No matter what, radio stations and TV networks were force to close their doors and only one channel remain open to voice out the real truth of what is happening in Venezuela. Recreational properties and business have been taken away from their lawful owners to the arbitrary desire of the self proclaim dictator, and all their workers have lost their jobs. Every day, new people join the unemployment list.

The private sector has been the target and now foreign investors don't feel confident about investing in Venezuela. Again and again, human rights and laws have been violated, and now the ruler of my country has allowed Cuban personnel to violate our sovereignty by letting them work on immigration post. Bribes have been part of the routine as every other passenger tries to leave the country. Delinquency is out of control, and the reborn of the kidnapping industry, like a deadly cancer, has spread out all over the country. In a hurry, I noticed it was getting late, so I hid my papers and went outside to the street with a yellow pot on one hand and a spoon on the other. Within an hour, I started to walk with others toward the highway.

Our purpose was to go downtown, an area well known taken by his supporters. We expected to encounter aggressive behavior, screams, certain violence, but nothing prepared us for the confrontation with Guardia Nacional.Tear gas were through at us, and many were knock to the ground and arrested. It was a pacific demonstration where from nowhere people hidden in the bushes shoot the crowd randomly and some ended up death.

That afternoon, I arrived home unharmed but emotionally drained after witnessing such atrocities, so after taking some pills to calm my anxiety, I sat down and started writing again when suddenly, my father told me about the dictator latest move: The selling of the Orinoco belt. With great dismay I said to myself: What else? And then, I realized that everything has been a charade. All those insults back and forth while at the same time no matter the animosity, business always kept going. Everything has been a lie, and now avid investors want their piece of the pie.

The Orinoco River is ours and it should remain that way. Isn't enough damage already? What happen Mr. Chavez? What happen with the dream of improving peoples' lifestyle? Are you going to fight the kidnapping industry, or is it just another one of your tentacles? Wasn't enough for you to kidnap our liberties and lifestyle? Could I keep coming back? Could I put myself at risk of being kidnap again? Will my desire to see family and friends be enough to put my fears aside? Who knows? But at least I know that nothing will ever replaced the sweet aroma of tierra mojada, a bite of arepa at three o clock in the morning, and the calming noise of listening to grillos at night. Nothing last forever, and the chains that oppress us now will be the chains that sooner or later will break free.

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Maria Gabriela Madrid is a bilingual writer, and “Spanish Editor” for “Voices de la Luna magazine”, SA-TX. She was born and raised in Caracas-Venezuela. She studied Education at Metropolitan University of Caracas-Venezuela; Creative Writing and English as a Second Language at Harvard University, Boston University, and Columbia University. She's the author of the collection, "Entre los surcos del recuerdo." She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas and is an editor at Voices de la Luna Magazine. Petroleumworld does not necessarily share these views. 

Editor's Note: This commentary was originally published by Martha Colmenares  blog , on Sept. 19, 2012 . Petroleumworld reprint this article in the interest of our readers.

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Petroleumworld News 09/19/2012


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