Venezuela’s Zombie Election

Two years ago I wrote about a suicide. A sad, bitter, rueful blog that went viral, capturing the desperation of a prescient people who saw clearly what was coming just over the horizon. The timeless tides creating currents that follow one full moon after another, picking up a cadaver from one desiccated shore to deposit it without circumstance or ceremony upon another, noticed only for that full-nosed stench of putrescence by which we recognize something which has turned, which is no more for this world but has nonetheless lingered on. Something undead.

I wrote about a Randian exercise in futility and stupidity – of a great bait and switch where vile epithets were thrown at those who work while the slovenly became “dignificados”, those dignified above the prosperous and disciplined by the sole fact of their being miserable – an Orwellian doublespeak wherein (often) self-imposed misery is worn as a medal, emboldening those who cannot through a predatory government which itself can only take. I wrote about the extinguishing lights of a great city – a city which once upon a time anchored a continent providing refuge for those neighbors arriving to seek a life in peace. From near, Colombia and Cuba and Haiti and Peru. From far, Germany and Lithuania and Spain and Portugal; Jews and gentiles alike finding succor on Venezuela’s storied beaches; in lost enclaves and jungle mines and in the powerful capital of Caracas. A city which committed suicide and is now undead.

Because suicide is not forever – as neither is murder. Eventually the tortured body of even the most resilient surrenders its broken soul to its creator, lamenting what could have been, finally at last at peace, perhaps even glad that the fight is over and looking to the hereafter for answers not attained in life. “What more could I have done?” More than one singsong Spanish-Caribbean accent has lingered at the Pearly Gates to ask Peter before passing through to the quiet beyond. “You did all that was expected,” might be the answer. “The suicide was not carried out by your hands.”

To fight, to rebel, to resist. Even great names that echo through history know this is most often humanity’s lot. Ours is not a storybook world – Frodo returning after the ring is destroyed; Aslan waking to ravage the white witch. Most often ours is the futility and sorrow and violence of the fight rendered anonymous by the passing of time. Sure sometimes great names enter our consciousness: Nelson Mandela; Liu Xiaobo; Anne Frank; perhaps Leopoldo Lopez someday. But the others? Do you know who Lorent Saleh is, imprisoned underground in “the tomb” after being handed over to the regime by Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos, a blood prize for his misbegotten peace which will bring no freedom? No, you don’t – but what about the others? Children held in the torture chambers of the regime; violated until they are killed or released to pass anonymous into history, to wait undead in food lines and think only of their times in the dungeons.


Photo Courtesy of Andres Gerlotti

Tomorrow is another Venezuelan election. The system has been so fully rigged for so long that there is no doubt as to the outcome. A decomposing corpse can never choose life, even one that still somehow struggles on. In a solemn act of surrender – or defiance – a hopeful few will brave their undead city, zombies gaunt and spare trudging to polling booths from houses with no electricity and water by stores with no bread or butter or milk beside shuttered factories and abandoned super-malls and into schools which no longer host even teachers. $2 a month? Who blames them? There under the supervision of the beetle-men encased in Kevlar and bristling with weapons to deposit a piece of paper upon which is imprinted the sum total of their desperate plea “When will this end?”, to be discarded by the regime in favor of a final number which is more convenient to their privilege.

What to do? Vote? Not vote? Rebel? Flee? Sabotage? These are not my decisions, chronicling as I am the aspects of undead Venezuela from afar. I can only hope and pray and lend my voice to the full throated screams of Venezuela’s zombie-voters tomorrow as they cry “When will this end??”

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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12 Responses to Venezuela’s Zombie Election

  1. Beatriz Nunez says:

    Your words give the reality in which I am still “surviving” a deeper and bleaker meaning. When one is in the midst of such terrible circumstances, perspective is lost and one’s vision is tunneled. I don’t even know what to expect tomorrow and the days that will ensue… Thank you for thinking and writing about us.


    • Beatriz – we wish you freedom and the people of Venezuela wisdom. No hay mal que dure mil anyos ni cuerpo que lo resiste.


      • Beatriz Nunez says:

        Thanks for getting back to me. Yes, I know… however, I am getting close to 80 and even if the regime goes the way of the 3rd Reich from 1,000 years to just a dozen (on top of the 18, in this case) every single day that passes weighs progressively more.


      • I’m so sorry Beatriz. You’re right, whatever happens now, having lost 18 years of Christmases and beaches and parties and graduations. 18 years of educating students, building new economy, taking advantage of oil booms to build a strong country. Instead 18 years of hate and theft. There is no recovering from that in the short term. Nevertheless I hope that this nightmare is soon over.


  2. Comrade Obama says:

    Every nation gets the government it deserves. Venezuela worked hard for theirs. America is working hard to institue a new form of government. Whether America deserves this is still being determined, but there are many, many corrupt people out there.


  3. Barbara Jacobson, Ph.D. says:

    So sad that the Venezuela I knew and loved in the 70’d no longer exists. Don’t give up.””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””’


    • Beatriz Nunez says:

      Never! I will never give up: the word is not in my vocabulary (either language) Nunca! Maybe the country that you knew and loved no longer exists, but there are still some old-timers around trying to teach youngsters what it was like before. Thnks for the encouragement!


  4. Beatriz Nunez says:

    Hola. Bueno,en realidad, no me sorprendieron los resultados. Era de esperarse.
    Leí los dos libros en Kindle hace como 2 años (uno en inglés y el otro en español). Es difícil decirte cuál me gustó más, pero sí puedo decir que me fascinó el primer capítulo de “El Teniente” poque casi podía ver la escena. Muy ingenioso el uso de nombres geográficos reales trasladados a otros sitios. Captaste muy bien la atmósfera del país y de las circunstncias. Lo único negativo que puedo decirte es que no me satisfizo la traducción porque muchos términos fueron traducidos con un toque argentino o sureño… pero es solo un detalle del cual –por mi profesión (traductora e intérprete)– siempre estoy consciente. Te felicito por la pasión que pones en lo escribes, sea un libro o este blog.


  5. Isocrates II says:

    Very powerful. I recently wrote regarding the Colombian Election and refer to the Venezuela election in passing. Such a shame as the world judges the country as a whole without distinguishing from the regime and the nation. Hoping all is well. Keep up the phenomenal work.


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