“Fatherland, socialism or death! We shall prevail!” This is a slogan that feels like a slap on the face, which makes people feel panic and the worst, a slogan which divided a country into two. In 1999, Hugo Chávez was elected as the president of Venezuela. People believed in change, or I should say, some of them. Before this election, Venezuela had been having economic and insecurity problems. In 2000, after Chávez changed the constitution, the price of the oil reached the highest level in Venezuelan history. The Venezuelan economy stopped, and a lot of Venezuelans were asking for Chávez’s renouncement in 2002. Almost all Venezuelan people were demanding for answers and solutions because there was a huge income but there were no changes in living standards, no improvement. The insecurity was increasing and people started to segregate according to different ideas, Chávez supporters and opponents. Because of this, the Venezuelan people were tired and started to make decisions: stay and fight, or go away and find a new life. Some people could not believe that an ideology could divide a country into two, increase the insecurity and dismantle the economy of our country.
|"With the Bolivarian Revolution, Venezuela took the needed impulse"|
Due to this change of political ideology, the Venezuelan people have separated into two groups: Chávez supporters and the opposition. Moreover, people have become intolerant of those who think differently. If someone is pro-government, he or she does not tolerate another one who is against the government and vice versa. Families who have members who think differently have had problems because of what I call, Ideology Virus. Until 2002, my uncle had supported the Chavez government. In every single family meeting, we disputed about our differences of political opinion. Also, in other families, the situation has been different, sometimes more extremist. Some family’s members have stopped talking, have fought and even some marriages have broken up because of differences of political opinion. Moreover, only those that support the president can find work in government jobs. Those companies will ask for a PSUV card (which in English means, United Socialist Party of Venezuela) or any other proof that one is in favor of the government. Furthermore, if you are working for some of those companies, you will have to do some proselytizing. My aunt works in one of those companies, and she is constantly the victim of verbal attacks just because her co-workers know that she does not support the regime.
|"There are our brothers for the progress"|
"There are enemies to the war"
One thing is certain: the level of insecurity has changed. No doubt about it. Life is worse than before Chávez. People who voted for Chávez thought that he would be disciplined and that he would put Venezuela in order, just because he was in the army. However, the opposite has occurred. There is more corruption, more criminality and more deaths. When people do not have trust in the system, they feel unsafe in any situation. I do not know if I have more fear of robber than a policeman. Several times when I was in Venezuela I was pulled over and asked for my papers, ID, driver license and car documents. A few minutes later an officer said “these documents are fakes. I cannot read the serial of the car” so he had to take my car to the office and then he said to me that if I helped him with something to eat, he would let me go. That is bribery. That is corruption. That is insecurity. Furthermore, going outside is more dangerous every day. When I used my phone on the street, on a bus or in subway, I could be assaulted. Actually it has happened to me already. Express kidnapping is something that Venezuelan people have unfortunately been hearing more frequently. Sadly this has happened to a few friends of mine. The worst thing is that in any of those situations that I have described, one could die. In fact, every year more Venezuelan people die at the hands of criminals than by natural causes.
|Accumulated killings. Official government records|
Even though since 2000 Venezuelan oil has reached the highest price in the country’s history, Venezuela still has an unstable economy, and the insecurity in the country, in every single branch, is still growing. Because of the oil price and its revenue, Venezuela produces almost nothing. In Venezuela almost everything is imported, and this always has been in this way. Nevertheless, this situation has increased more with this government and they even are not doing it well. When I was a child, I remember my mother asking me to go to the store to buy milk and I always answered her “which brand and what kind?” Nowadays this has changed. Now people buy whatever milk they find in the supermarket. They cannot choose. When people finally find milk in some store, they cannot buy the amount of milk they want; usually there is a maximum of a bottle per person. Besides that, there are not enough imported goods. Now Venezuela produces less. Before the Chavez regime in a supermarket, people could find for example, Venezuelan tomatoes and imported tomatoes, Venezuelan lettuce and imported lettuce. Now only imported products are available. The government has not invested money to increase the Venezuelan economy.
“Fatherland, socialism or death! We shall prevail!” Now Venezuelan people totally understand it. It means that some people have lost their fatherland because have had to move to another country, like my family. It means that if someone does not agree with socialism, that one has to pay the consequences. Death however, was the most obvious and least expected. Death means death. It is impossible to calculate with precision the amount of Venezuelans who have died since 1999, and sometimes I think I do not want to know the truth. Since Chávez was in power, and now with Nicolás Maduro as president, Venezuela has experienced division and segregation. This brand of socialism has divided families, bringing fights and migration to other countries. The government’s decision to maintain a policy of only importing goods and not investing in domestic production has caused nationwide shortages. Besides the lack of prevention and safety programs make Venezuela an unsafe and dangerous place. I hope one day, sooner than later, all these changes and all Venezuelans around the world can come back to Venezuela to rebuild our country, our fatherland, because “We shall prevail”.
|"I'm not scared of you anymore"|