As I was leaving Venezuela last week, this guy in the picture above in his Pa’lante Comandante and PSUV jacket, created quite a stir, as the immigration line was about 40 minutes long, but the jacket gave this new oligarch the privilege of bypassing everyone and be thru the whole process in about two minutes. Some people silently bitched about the whole thing, others were vocal, yet others were quite loud about it. Using Capriles’ phrase, they called him “enchufado”, plugged into the system to get his privileges.
But then, I had to open my mouth. There was a group of young guys, excitedly going to Miami for the first time in their lives. They were quite pissed at the Pa’lante gordo and I talked to them about it as I took the picture. But then, I created another stir, by reminding these young guys, that they are as privileged as the Pa’lante guy, even if to a lesser degree. (They get the ticket, but not the special line)
These guys took offense at this, so I explained: “You guys pay a cheap ticket, get a couple of thousand dollars at the official rate so that you can go out and party for a week or so, that seems quite a privilege in Venezuela, if those that can not afford it could see this line and understand, they would be as mad at you, as you are at the Pa’lante guy”
Well, I did not make much headway, to them traveling at Bs. 6.3 and their CADIVI dollars is essentially a right by now, the same way the poor think that they should be given a home by the Government and free food and appliances when election time comes up.
In fact, it seems as if Venezuelans are all trapped in their own inconsistencies.
The opposition does not dare say what they think, because they know they would not get elected if they did. But neither do Chavistas. Most of them understand how screwed up the revolution is, but they can’t say anything , for they risk their own future. It is hard to explain to opposition people that yes, the opposition is censored, but Chavismo/Madurismo is censored even more. Some in the opposition are not allowed to say what they want, but if you are Chavista and you say what you want, you are banned, recused, accused of treason and the like. So, all Chavistas stay silent, it is the Arepa muzzle at work. (Bozal de arepa)
And privileges are everywhere.
Nobody believes the gasoline subsidy can be removed. (I do!). But how can the price of gas have an impact on anything, when a bus costs 500,000 Bolivars and if you fill the tank up daily, you spend Bs. 10 per tank? That is one third or one quarter of an arepa per day. Make it five times more expensive and the owner of the bus would spend 15,000 Bolivars per year. That’s 3% of the cost of the bus. Are you kidding me? Raise it by a factor of twenty!
But everywhere you turn, there are privileges. I was talking to a Colombian that wants to leave the country, but he sends his parents $300 per month via Cadivi and another $600 to his kids. That is all of Bs. 5,400 he spends, but the family keeps only $300 and returns $600, that he readily exchanges for a net of (18,000-5,400)=13,600 Bolivars, more than he can make in a moth working in Venezuela or Colombia! This guy is really trapped!
And the whole education discussion in CCSC reveals the same. Why should CADIVI give anyone money to study undergraduate abroad? (Don’t get mad bro!) It’s absurd. And graduate work is even more absurd. That is a sure guarantee that the person will never return.
As for the University conflict. Yes, it is very valid, but so are a few dozen conflicts around the country. I mean, why would a Guayana worker complain if he gets his salary without working? He is also trapped. Or maybe he has more than one job, since he does not have to go to the other one to get paid.
Everywhere we look is the same. And if the Government, any Government, tried to rationalize anything, from gas to electricity prices, to Cadivi, to make pensions available only when you are 65, let alone make people work, that Government would have to face the consequences.
Venezuelans are trapped and I don’t see anyone “poniendole el cascabel al gato” however you may say that in English (Putting the bell on the cat???)