Venezuela: Where Before There Had Been Precise Names

Iria Puyosa is a Venezuelan blogger who has been finishing her graduate work in the United States. This post describes her return to Caracas last week.

El vuelo sale de Houston. Por las conversaciones que escucho de pasada, parece que todos los gringos que me rodean trabajan en la industria petrolera nacional, en las soberanas empresas mixtas que sustituyen a las asociaciones estratégicas. Menos participación en acciones, pero más retórica patriótica, como corresponde al proceso.

Nadie me había comentado que los trabajos de ampliación del aeropuerto de Maiquetía han avanzado lo suficiente como para hacer del paso por inmigración y aduanas una experiencia más cómoda. Tendencia humana a ignorar lo positivo. Las malas noticias son más apasionantes.

The flight leaves from Houston. From the conversations I hear passing by, it seems that the gringos around me work in the national petroleum industry, in the sovereign businesses that replace the strategic associations. Less participation in actions, but more patriotic rhetoric, so the process goes.

Nobody had told me that the expansion work at Maiquetía airport has advanced sufficiently to make passing through immigration and customs a more comfortable experience. Human tendency to ignore the positive. The bad news is more exciting.

Gregorio, el taxista que viene a buscarme, se convierte de inmediato en pana-pana, aunque hace dos días ninguno de los dos sabía de la existencia del otro. Me advierte que nos toca la peligrosa carretera vieja, porque a esa hora ya está cerrada la trocha, para terminar de construirla. No es así. No hay nadie trabajando en la trocha; iluminación, taludes, señalización tendrán que esperar un largo tiempo, dado el ritmo de trabajo incesante que observo. Lo bueno es que no hay casi tráfico y llegamos pronto a Caracas. Durante el camino, Gregorio me comenta las noticias de quienes andan detrás del volante todo el día. Hay escasez de gasolina; ¿se nos acabó el petróleo? Levantaron el asfalto en muchas calles, para no ponerlo nunca más. Puedo constatar la falta de asfaltado justo entrando en Caricuao. “Ellos”, “esa gente”, son los responsables de los problemas de vialidad, la pérdida de rentabilidad de las estaciones de gasolina y la inseguridad. No me hace falta preguntar quienes son “ellos”, pero no puedo dejar de notar ese rodeo para no nombrar. Lo seguiré notando durante toda la semana; taxistas, peluquer@s, mesoner@s, emplead@s de barra, asignan la responsabilidad a “ese señor”, “esa gente”, “ellos”. ¿Por qué estos sujetos indeterminados donde antes había nombres precisos

Gregorio, the taxi driver who comes to look for me, immediately acts like “a pal” even though two days ago neither of us new of the existence of the other. He informs me that we'll have to travel on the old, dangerous highway because at this hour la trocha [“the shortcut,” a viaduct which collapsed in May] is closed so that they can finish the construction. But that's now how it is. There isn't anyone working on la trocha; illumination, slopes, everyone will have to wait a long time, given the rhythm of the never-ending work I observe. The good thing is that there is hardly any traffic and soon we arrive to Caracas. Along the road, Gregorio tells me the news of those who spend all day behind the steering wheel. There is a shortage of gasoline; is the petroleum all used up? They tore up the asphalt in many streets and will never put it back. I can confirm the lack of asphalt just from entering Caricuao neighborhood. “Them,” “those people,” are the ones responsible for the road problems, the inability to rent out gas stations, and the lack of security. There was no need for me to ask who “they” are, but I cannot stop noting this evasion of using names. I keep noting it during the whole week; taxi drivers, hairdressers, bar owners, bartenders, they assign the responsibility to “this man,” “those people,” “them.” Why these vague subjects where before there had been precise names?

3 comments

  • MacBolivar

    Be careful! This blogger’s blog contains links to websites which contain links to Venezuelan newspapers that undermine the Venezuelan government, as a matter of course. These opposition newspapers regularly fail to publish government statements which might serve to elucidate government action. See http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=2321

  • MacBolivar,

    What newspapers do you mean exactly? TalCual? El Universal? El Nacional? Correo del Caroní? Do you read any of these newspapers on a regular basis? Do you know the history of their existence in Venezuela? Do you realize all these newspapers publish pro-government columnists? Have you ever read the government-sponsored newspaper Vea? What does it have in common with Granma?

    Do you suggest we read Le Monde Diplomatique and Z Magazine instead? Why should we trust the Venezuelan government instead of these newspapers?

    Why hasn’t the exemplary Z Magazine written a more recent article on the matter? Why should we take your anonymous, sensationalistic advice?

    (By the way, you misspelled “Bolívar” in you moniker.)

  • Vicente

    You act like the government of venezuelas statements tend to to truthful and accurate when in fact they tend to be nuttier than squirrel droppings.

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