I have always believed that things are best proven and learned in the extremes. For example, we have so many people who we call friends, however, how many would be there for you if it meant a real sacrifice on their behalf? It is in those moments, when there is a test, that we discover reality.
Since last week my wife has received a continual stream of emails and texts from friends and family in Venezuela, who almost uniformly express shock and horror at the degradation of their previously proud society. Violence, both government-sponsored as well as civilian, has taken over the streets. It seems to me that disaster, with the real prospect of starvation, may be imminent as streets have been barricaded and normal societal systems can no longer function. This is indeed an extreme situation.
Most of the communication comes from people hoping that the US, or anyone, come to their aid. Yet, amazingly, some are in complete denial, and these are the ones that fascinate me the most.
One of these people is my father-in-law, who is a diehard Chavista socialist. For him, it is not acceptable or even conceivable that his socialist government could be at fault for the current situation. At first he blamed a small rogue group of anarchists who were "causing problems" but who would be quieted soon. Then, as the gravity of the situation became more apparent and he could no longer blame this "small group," he decided to parrot the current administration’s party line that it was the Americans who were instigating this chaos as a premise to invade Venezuela and take her oil, and that Leopoldo Lopez, the leader of the street marches, is a paid CIA operative. Never mind that the U.S. has enough of our own oil, or that the oil market doesn't really work that way, or that Lopez comes from a long and historic Venezuelan family and was a mayor of a large district within Caracas. Logic or common sense never matters to ideologues or those who will always be victims.
As an aside, I know our CIA has a history of meddling in other nation's affairs. But, being married to a Venezuelan, and having been exposed to many Venezuelans, I feel that I have a pretty good handle on some of the root problems of that country, and none of them have anything to do with the US or any other country. Venezuelans did a great job screwing up their beautiful country and their warm and amazing society. Their education system continued to turn out students unqualified for gainful employment, they accepted a crazy high level of government corruption and outright theft as being the Venezuelan norm, and their businessmen chose to play that game in order to succeed. They looked the other way as the impoverished grew in numbers and in isolation and desperation, and assumed that the oil wealth could support the forever-increasing handouts. They looked the other way when Chavez undid their constitution, laughing with him as he joked and entertained, all the while destroying the fabric of their nation. They ignored more ominous signs when Chavez shunned his nation's doctors to seek medical care in Cuba, and barely noticed the large influx of armed Cubans until now, when it may be too late.
Venezuela is now royally fucked. Even if the world came in with either humanitarian help and/or military support for the freedom-seeking insurgents and frustrated citizens who seem to have finally awakened after decades of living in a fog, I think that righting this ship will take generations. The society is too damaged. The large percentage of the population who have no sense of right and wrong anymore, who have been living on subsidized or free beer and arepas and who have been fed populist and anti-American bullshit are likely incapable of becoming a part of a functioning society. I would very much enjoy seeing all of the moronic Americans who have lent credibility to the Venezuelan totalitarian/socialist regime like Oliver Stone, Sean Penn, Danny Glover, and that always useful idiot Jimmy Carter to go down there now and see what they have contributed to.
Well, the main point of this blog is the observation as to how powerful is the human ability is to live in complete denial. In spite of his country literally burning around him, of mass repression, and unbelievable disintegration of society, my father-in-law still tows the “company line,” unwilling to question his beliefs and clinging to the victim mentality blame game. I’m afraid that we are all vulnerable to this same tendency, and need to be willing to always remain alert so as to learn from the realities in our midst, hear opposing points of view and criticism, and be willing to grow and change.