Venezuela & Insanity

It’s been a few years since I saw family members. Before our meeting, we talked regularly. On each occasion intermittently. “Se cae la conexión”, they would say. Meaning, internet is patchy. Talking through regular CANTV phone lines remains an impossibility, to me at least. During our conversations they would tell us about the latest assassination, assault, abuse… There’s nothing normal about their day to day lives in Venezuela, and the shock factor, that is whatever still shocks them, depends uniquely on personal tolerance and disposition towards abnormality.

Today it would be some gruesome episode: someone got killed, some cattle bones were left in situ after someone decided to avail itself of someone else’s livestock, someone got beaten, tortured, kidnapped, or died because no A&E unit would admit patients. But then, when all traces of normality have been truly eliminated from our conversation, with horror tales of varying degress, it would be the latest price of milk what catches their attention, and they would go on and on about how one kilo of powder milk is nearly ten times basic monthly salary.

It is absurd what our fellow Venezuelans are going through, though the eagerness to return to that hell hole is what, in my opinion, places these folks firmly in insanity territory. With them, no conversation can be steered away from Venezuela. They are shell shocked. Traumatised. Haunted. Broken. And yet, they are determined to return.

The hardest is their physical complexion. It’s as if they’ve just escaped the war. So thin. So malnourished. And then the gaze. There’s a profound sadness in their eyes. Similar to that of rescued dogs in animal shelters. It is heartbreaking, however they would say that upon their return they would do this or that, which appears to me to be the very definition of insanity. That willingness to return to the known evil, rather than trying to rebuild lives in freedom, that, I just can’t understand. Just can’t.

When we get to discuss the part about the future, and I am asked what I think, I can’t sugarcoat, or lie. I can’t, just for the sake of making them feel comfortable, tell that everything will be OK, that the criminal organisation running Venezuela is somewhat going to relinquish power, and we’ll all return to the homeland to live happily ever after. It’s not going to happen. It cannot happen when one takes into account all actors.

As sad as this sounds, “Chavez los tiene locos” may yet prove to be the closest approximation to Venezuelan society ever uttered.