Last Thursday, July 27th, I was left in anguish after I read the order issued by the State Department for the diplomatic corp stationed in the American Embassy in Caracas. In a few words, the instructions were to get their families out of Venezuelan territory and join them if they wished so.
That same day, Avianca–the emblematic Colombian airline–joined the growing list of airlines that stopped servicing the Caribbean country in the last months, and flew the routes from Bogota and Lima to Caracas for the last time ending decades of operations with the neighbor nation.
The dripping exile of American diplomats and the limited embassy activities, plus the withdrawal of airlines caused by the lack of security for passengers and crew members, is the opening act of the oil rich country’s transformation into Cuba’s twin island sister.
As predicted, the rigged victory of the constitutional referendum proposed by Nicolas Maduro sealed Venezuela’s fate last Sunday. Surrounded by the Military Forces, the Supreme Court Justices, and the bodies of the 100+ victims of the opposition demonstrators, the leader of the Bolivariana Revolution joined triumphantly the infamous list of Latin-american dictators.
In addition, last Monday the Department of State raised the caliber of the threat that Maduro’s regime represents to democracy in the world referring to him as Venezuela’s Dictator and placing the same economic sanctions the US has imposed on the current tyrants of the world: the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad and the supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un.
When I read the news about Venezuela I think of Marybel Torres, my editor at the magazine La Nota Latina. Like me, she is alone in the US with her husband and her only son, while all her family and lifetime friends remain in her home country. I put myself in her shoes and try to imagine how hopeless I would feel knowing that my mother doesn’t have access to her asthma medicine, food, or basic needs items.
Yesterday, after I read the news about the horrific incarceration of the opposition leaders Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma by the Maduro regime, I emailed her and asked her how she felt. Her response broke my heart. “It makes me so mad that nobody seems to really care about Venezuela except those chamos (young people) who take to the streets and risk their lives for freedom,” wrote Marybel.
Her husband, who is Cuban, says to her that he never thought he would have to live his story again when he sees her packing boxes of supplies for her family. “He used to tell me and all the friends that visited us from Venezuela that the worst was yet to come. You can’t negotiate with those people, the only way is to defeat them is with fire,” she remembered.
The way things are going, the border between Colombia and Venezuela soon enough will look like the one between Mexico and USA. The big difference is that Colombia does not have the resources or the governing experience to face a massive migration, especially in the adolescence of the peace process implementation phase with the guerrilla Farc.
In a recent interview with the newspaper El Tiempo, the governors of the three states that share a border with Venezuela expressed their concern about the developing crises. Increase in prostitution, criminal activity, low cost labor which is leaving Colombians without a job, and the overflow in the health and education systems are just a few.
Venezuela is a ship lost at sea ready heading for a cliff. The sailors are jumping overboard and the steering wheel is in the hands of pirates. The question is, how many lifeboats will come to their rescue?
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