Venezuela’s Discovery of Hunger

Nobody expects it to hit close to them – the hunger. We see pictures on television: Ethiopia, Congo, Kosovo. We dig into our pockets or open our checkbooks to help, we are good people of course. Sometimes we watch a documentary on the History channel, old pictures of internment camps with the emaciated bodies of the victims of foreign wars; and we wonder how it could have come to that? We go to the parades to honor our veterans, celebrating our heroes and mourning the great loss of life; black and white pictures glossing over the horror with the brush of time. It can’t happen to us.

“Venezuela isn’t Cuba,” we heard a lot in the heady days of Hugo Chavez. “That could never happen here; hunger isn’t something we Venezuelans will put up with.” Turns out they were wrong. Venezuela has entered its own Periodo Especial – a time in the mid 90’s when the Castro’s starved their island. Yet oddly enough we hear it still, all the time in fact, those words. Brazil is not Venezuela – except it almost was. Spain is not Brazil – except that it very well might be.

For the last twenty years all anybody in Venezuela talked about was politics. Over expensive meals, black label whiskey and cold beer on street corners the endless debate raged: revolution, popular democracy, participatory democracy. Conspiracies, the empire – planning; oh, the endless planning. The only thing people talk about these days is food. Where can you find milk? Has anybody seen eggs? Cheese, butter, chicken – these are the topics, on street corners in front of boarded up kiosks where the drunken debates used to rage. But the beer is now gone, and sobriety is a heartless companion. It’s humiliating, the hunger is – but hungry people don’t care. They don’t have the luxury of pride.

Then people you know begin to talk about their hunger. What they feel like, the hunger pangs. How they cope; their new meal schedules, their strategies to avoid the bread lines. Their thoughts of meat – their dreams of powdered milk; the cries of their babies.

We reach for our checkbooks again – and it hits us; true poverty has nothing to do with money.

They forget to tell you that, don’t they? The Harvard professors who still teach Marxism – although they call it socialism these days. The Hollywood crowd who love to talk about redistribution. They don’t tell us what to do when all the money in the universe will not buy a loaf of bread. When, in a land of consumers, nobody is left who can produce. They don’t tell you that all the matrices and elections and orders and threats and laws and guns in the world cannot turn that money into milk and butter and eggs. That is – and always has been – the job of free citizens.

In Spanish there’s a word for what is happening in Venezuela; desgracia. We don’t have a similar word in English; the closest translation is ‘misfortune’; but that doesn’t sum up the anger and disgust and powerlessness. There’s a sister word in Spanish too, desgraciados; again no word in English sums up the enmity against ‘those who caused the misfortune’.

What is happening in Venezuela is, nevertheless, a desgracia caused by a group of desgraciados.

About Joel D. Hirst

Joel D. Hirst is a novelist and a playwright. His most recently released work is "Dreams of the Defeated: A Play in Two Acts" about a political prisoner in a dystopian regime. His novels include "I, Charles, From the Camps" about the life of a young man in the African camps and "Lords of Misrule" about the making and unmaking of a jihadist in the Sahara. "The Lieutenant of San Porfirio" and its sequel "The Burning of San Porfirio" are about the rise and fall of socialist Venezuela (with magic).
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35 Responses to Venezuela’s Discovery of Hunger

  1. budbromley says:

    Bernie is the new Chavez.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. budbromley says:

    Reblogged this on budbromley and commented:
    Bernie is the new Chavez.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so true and so tragic…I don’t know what is going to happen, if a sudden change could be imminent or not but the situation is no longer sustainable. It’s passed beyond the level of emergency or crisis, it’s truly apocalyptic! We are impotent observers of an absurd and illogical situation that never should have happened! Excellent post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. JoanOfArgghh says:

    “Disgraceful” is the word in English, but it’s lost its impact because we no longer understand where graces come from. The Spanish version lies closer to the root and I think subhuman might be as close as can be described in English: it’s beneath the grace and gift of having a soul.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Joan – its hard to find the right words. Sometimes other languages capture better the feelings. Given that these feelings are Venezuelan, for the Venezuelans, desgracia seems to fit.


      • Gringo says:

        Regarding a word to call those who caused this mess, sinvergüenza fits, as it can translate to : shameless,scoundrel. The propensity of Chavistas to blame the mess on the Evil Empire or on Economic War indicates they have no intention of assuming any responsibility for the mess. Which makes “shameless” a fit.


      • but sinverguenza is a little playful – desgraciado for me fits better, sadly


    • theduchessofkitty says:

      I think the English words that better fits the actual Spanish meaning are these: wretch, swine, creep. There. Feels better, too. And this from someone who is a native Spanish speaker.

      BTW, just found your blog. I like.


  5. If you are starting to get worried and are thinking about starting to build a stash; food, fuel, blankets, clean water (lots and lots of clean water). Just remember this, if the first item on your list isn’t a gun and plenty of ammunition…
    thanks for your efforts and your generous contributions.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. JohnTyler says:

    The people of Venezuela voted for a government – that of Hugo Chavez – that promised them all something for nothing. He told them that all of their problems were the fault of capitalism and the wealthy.
    In voting for Chavez / Maduro, the citizenry voted for a national suicide; the experience of Cuba never crossed their mind.

    This ability, the ability to vote for a national suicide is one of the dangers of a representative democracy. Lest we here in the USA think it cannot happen here, just look at Bernie Sanders (a Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist) and Hillary Clinton (a career criminal, huckster and liar).

    In Venezuela today, Maduro STILL !!!! has the support of a significant portion of their citizenry; their stupidity and ignorance in the face of hard facts and reality is a testimony to the ease with which people can be led to believe anything at all (not unlike those that believe the World Trade Center was blown up by Halliburton, Bush, the Mossad and the CIA).

    As conditions worsen in Venezuela, rest assured that Maduro will triple down on the use of terror, force and murder to achieve his ultimate goal; a new Cuba (much to the delight of Obama and Bernie Sanders and the majority of the US democratic party).

    The only hope for the citizens of Venezuela is that hundreds of thousands of them converge upon their capitol when their Congress is in session and Maduro is there, enter en masse and by force the government buildings, remove Maduro and his top 500 aides/supporters, and publicly lynch them from the nearest light posts, Mussolini style.

    Lastly, it is worth noting that Hugo Chavez stated that being rich is a sin. And who today is the wealthiest female in all of Venezuela?? Yes, that is right, his DAUGHTER !!! A fact that is irrelevant and meaningless for all of Maduro’s true believers.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Joel says:

    A sensible person never wishes hardship and misfortune on people who’ve never done him any harm, but it is hard to read about Venezuela without at least a touch of schadenfreude. Unlike Ethiopia, Congo, and Kosovo, these people voted themselves into privation.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Xochimilco says:

    And the world powers again do nothing because they are waiting for Venezuela to implode upon itself. That way afterwards they will sweep up the oil and carry on with clean hands.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jacob Sulzbach says:

    Just today (Monday, June 6) Rodrigo Agudo, a consultant to Venezuela’s Federation of Cattle Ranchers (Fedenaga), warned the country that it is living through a “terrible crisis” not experienced since 1814 (not a typo) with respect to the availability of food. He was especially critical of the Maduro regime’s practices of distributing food only to those who side with the government, accusing the Local Commission for Supply and Production (Spanish acronym CLAP) of political discrimination in the distribution of food resources.

    As bad as things look in the statistics, the reality is even worse. The Maduro regime is using starvation as a political weapon.

    So much for Chavismo and Social Justice!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joe Katzman says:

      Starvation as a political weapon is entirely normal in communist regimes, from Ukraine to Ethiopia and beyond.

      “Social justice” always translates as “The torture and murder of those we designate as enemies.” It’s not that B follows A. It’s that B is what is really meant when A is said.


      • Jacob Sulzbach says:

        Your sense of history is poignant Joe Katzman.

        The Stalinist Terror Famine of the 1930’s and Mengistu’s deliberate blockade of food supplies from distribution to large segments of the Ethiopian people in 1984-1985 are significant precedents for Marxist regimes. And it is worth mentioning that the Cubans were present in Ethiopia, assisting Mengistu.

        Though things have not yet descended to those levels of tragedy in Venezuela–we would have to see the dead counted in the millions–it does inform us as to the historical perspective of Maduro’s allies on mass starvation.


  10. Paul Bonneau says:

    “In Venezuela today, Maduro STILL !!!! has the support of a significant portion of their citizenry”

    This is the real problem, belief in that old-timey government religion. Those who believe deserve their fate. It’s sad for the others of course. Sometimes you just have to get the hell out.

    But then, who could have predicted, even with socialist meddling, that oil-rich Venezuela would fall to this point? I guess even piles of money won’t save you when stupid builds up a head of steam…


  11. Comparing dictatorships ti socialism. SMH


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