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  • For weeks my friend Ever has been living under siege.

  • He's not a soldier, a diplomat, a protester or a revolutionary.

  • He's just a regular citizen of Venezuela.

  • For those who don't know,

  • Venezuela is in the middle of an uprising.

  • The reasons, of course, are complicated myriad

  • and go back at least two decades,

  • but since the death of President Hugo Chavez one year ago

  • the economic situation has become increasingly dire.

  • And major nationwide protests began on February 12, 2014

  • This news is largely been overshadowed by recent arguably more serious events in Ukraine,

  • but just because Venezuela is not a conduit for petroleum products

  • between Russia and Western Europe nor a proxy for the conflict between the two

  • and just because the death toll during protests in Venezuela hasn't yet reached the hundreds,

  • doesn't mean that life is good for its citizens.

  • Take case in point, Ever.

  • He lives in Ciudad Guayana, a city of a million along the Orinoco River in eastern Venezuela.

  • It is Venezuela's sixth-largest city with a dozen universities

  • (including the one where Ever teaches),

  • a major industrial center for iron and aluminum,

  • many beautiful parks, and so on,

  • but none of that matters at the moment

  • because on an average day in Ever's neighborhood

  • there are cars burning on the streets,

  • teargas wafting through his windows,

  • and protesters barricading the main roads

  • with trash, tires, and tree limbs

  • so the Guardia Nacional and everyone else can't get to where they're going.

  • Even before the protests started,

  • Ever and I had a little joke going

  • about the dysfunctional nature of life and so-called socialist Venezuela.

  • Whenever the internet or power in Ciudad Guayana would go down

  • or Ever had to wait three hours in line to buy rice,

  • (all of regular occurrences)

  • He would describe the situation with the hashtag: #ThirdWorldProblems

  • It was funny because it was ironic.

  • That's no longer the case.

  • Now Ever and his family and neighbors and countrymen have spent two months in a state of uncertainty.

  • They still have third world problems on their hands

  • but the problems have grown much bigger

  • than waiting in lines.

  • (even while those problems continue to persist).

  • And then this week something else caught my attention.

  • Ever started describing the situation

  • in his neighborhood as "quiet" or "fine"

  • during lulls in clashes between

  • protesters and the Guardia Nacional.

  • Things, at least, from my vantage point

  • 3,000 miles to the north

  • clearly weren't fine.

  • They were just slightly less bad.

  • I sent Ever the following email:

  • Ever,

  • I'm getting a little worried that your standards for quiet

  • have become skewed.

  • Yesterday you said it was quiet

  • and several vehicles were lit on fire on your street.

  • Today it was quiet and a National Guard man was hit by a bomb.

  • I'm saying this partly in jest, but also to remind you what peaceful life is really like,

  • so you don't become complacent and start accepting

  • even a little insanity as being okay.

  • Henry.

  • Here is his beautiful response:

  • You are right, Henry.

  • I forgot to give you context for the video.

  • He was hit by a firework,

  • one of those that sounds very loud.

  • They call it mata suegra, tu ma rancho, bin laden, etc.

  • That guard was the captain that was leading.

  • He got a very bad looking injury in the upper left leg.

  • Fortunately, he is alive,

  • and despite the fact that "quiet"

  • was referring to what happened after those events

  • you're right in that I may be complacent

  • and accepting a fair amount of insanity

  • as being okay.

  • And that made me think about my personality

  • I mean I know that it shouldn't be happening

  • and that is not okay,

  • but the fact is that I live in

  • an insane dysfunctional country,

  • where basic products such as

  • milk, coffee, flower, and toilet paper

  • are scarce to the point that

  • people make insane long lines

  • and even end up fighting and looting to get those goods

  • I live in the country with an insane dysfunctional economy,

  • where there's nothing cheaper than gasoline.

  • Where people have gotten rich making money

  • by trafficking it and other subsidizing goods.

  • Where the police and National Guards

  • cannot control the rampant crime

  • that took the life of more than 24,000 during 2013 only.

  • Where impunity is the law.

  • Where prisoners control the jails

  • and live with a comfort that honest working people

  • outside cannot have.

  • Where at least half the population ratifies the disaster

  • by voting in favor of the 15 year long revolution.

  • Where you have to drive like a drunk

  • because of the craters in the roads.

  • Where law does not apply to people who can

  • afford to pay off judges.

  • Where all TV stations want to report

  • to avoid conflicts with the government.

  • Where government blames

  • the Empire, the CIA, the opposition,

  • and nearly every imaginable thing,

  • even iguanas,

  • for the problems in the country.

  • Where you cannot save in local currency

  • due to the fifty percent inflation rate,

  • and I could go on and on.

  • And on top of that,

  • we have had about a month

  • with many streets blocked,

  • with National Guard's using teargas every day

  • to dissolve peaceful protest,

  • with some protesters setting fire on cars,

  • bosses taking down

  • traffic lights, trees, and even building concrete walls on the street.

  • I have no control over any of these things.

  • I can only talk, debate, and try to make people I know

  • think carefully about what they do and support.

  • And being complacent and accepting all these insanity

  • may be a defense mechanism.

  • If I don't do it then I will leave angry and embittered,

  • as many people I know do.

  • I don't know if this is a good way to deal with frustration but that's me,

  • I think.

  • [Truck burning]

  • As a follow up,

  • I want to acknowledge that Ever works with me

  • as the illustrator for the MinuteEarth channel on Youtube,

  • and the situation in Venezuela is part of the

  • reason the video output from Minute Earth

  • has suffered over the last month.

  • As we've been working on this video,

  • Ever's neighborhood continues to be the scene

  • of clashes between protesters and the Guardia Nacional

  • often going long into the night.

  • I guess I just want to make clear that the scenarios we illustrated

  • aren't isolated events, and they're not over.

  • They are literally the daily insane reality.

  • I'm thankful that I don't have to deal with teargas

  • coming into my apartment at 2 AM,

  • and i hope the situation in Venezuela will improve

  • for all of its citizens.

  • [Soft guitar music]

For weeks my friend Ever has been living under siege.

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當瘋狂變成正常 -- -- 委內瑞拉。 (When Insanity Becomes Normal - Venezuela)

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    林宜悉 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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