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.
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??”