"If you don't like it, go back to Canada and never come back"
Posted: Friday, January 3, 2003
December 29, 2002
By Oscar Hech
Since December 16, I have not been able to keep up-to-date with VHeadline.com's latest reports or commentaries since I've been traveling throughout a good portion of Venezuela ... often to locations with little or no internet access. Readers may be interested in reading about what I have been experiencing on my travels during these difficult times in beautiful Venezuela. Here it goes:
Left Caracas for the state of Sucre (eastern part of Venezuela along the Carribean) on December 16 ... the bus left at 1:30 p.m. instead of at the scheduled departure at 10:00 a.m. due to "the opposition" blocking roads.
(For those readers who have been reading my letters, it took me 5 minutes to buy the bus tickets on December 15, 2002. I was dressed in a white shirt, black pants, shiny shoes, and a custom-designed tie. Upon reaching the wicket, I handed over my Canadian passport with my Gold Visa card. It worked as predicted!)
NOTE: Typically, in many parts of Venezuela, especially places courted by the middle and upper class, one will find a sign on the wall stating "We reserved the right to admission."
In order to get to the bus station, we had left the "barrio" (poor area/slums) at 6:30 a.m. The blocking of the roads had already begun, and it took us about two hours to make the trip (by car) to the bus station ... a trip that usually takes 15-20 minutes.
On the descent from the barrio to the bus station, we encountered many road blocks set up by "the opposition" ... essentially they cut off the exits to one of Caracas' largest barrios. This was a Monday (and only one day of many road blocks), a day that people usually work. As a result, most of the people from the barrio could not go to work, could not go to the hospital, could not go to school outside the barrio, etc.
This may not seem like much. However, what people outside Venezuela should be aware of with respect to the previous paragraph is the following:
1. In Caracas, most barrios are geographically located on what people around here call "los cerros" (the hills) and the "urbanizaciones" (non-slum suburbs) are located in what is called "las colinas" (the slopes). The "slopes" are geographically located below the "hills" and surround them -- i.e. the urbanizaciones surround the barrios.
2. Most people in the barrios work 6-7 days per week.
3. Many people from the barrios work outside the barrios.
4. Many people from the barrios who do not show up for work get fired without notice. (I, personally have 2 friends from the barrio that lost their jobs due to not being able to get to work).
5. Some of the opposition refused exit from the barrios to people who needed to go to the hospital ... two people had died during the previous week since they had been unable to leave the barrio to get to the hospital!
6. The vast majority of the people living in the urbanizaciones have servants, who are often paid less than minimum wage. A friend of a friend of mine, from the barrio, who works as a servant is being paid Bs.40,000 a week to take care of a sickly old lady, 7 days a week in the urbanizacion below the barrio.
Dear reader, would you work for such a salary? Under such conditions? About US$30 weekly ... and the cost of living here is almost equivalent to that of Canada!
On the way to the bus station, I stepped out of the car to ask "the opposition" (about 8 cars and 150 people blocking one exit road) why they are doing this, why were they stopping the people from going to work and what image are they giving the outside world about Venezuela, about a country that is so beautiful.
The response from the person that seemed to be heading up this blockade was "if you don't like it, go back to Canada and never come back..."
My response was the finger.
That really outraged them and they all began shouting in unison "go back, go back, go back!" in broken English. I had to laugh, and told them all that I would publish what they said on the web.
That really got them agitated, so I ran to the car and left.
The last several paragraphs are representative of what I believe to be "the opposition's actions without conscience."
And they call themselves "Civilized"? Huh!
Note: Before someone sends me a nasty letter, I do realize that my giving them the finger is not very civilized, but my action does not kill people nor does it stop people from working, eating, living.
This reminds me. Do people outside Venezuela know that classified ads looking for executive secretaries will include statements in the nature of "no older than 25 years of age, svelte, attractive." Civilized? I am sure that descriptions of this nature are appalling to most people in North America and Europe ... note also that Venezuelans who consider themselves most civilized are engineers, architects, doctors, etc ... the ones that live in the urbanizaciones.
My next letter will recount my experiences and discussions with people in a small fishing village in the State of Sucre and some detail as to my present adventures in a small farming village in the southern Venezuelan Andes ... a 26-hour bus ride from Sucre ... even during the gasoline shortage!