He changed my way of thinking, of looking, of looking at myself. You ask what did he give me, concretely you say. As I have told you. It’s that we had nothing, that we were nothing. Or better said, we felt that we were nothing, that we had no value, we did not matter. And that is what Chávez changed. That’s what he gave us.
The military is divided into various groups. Many of them—on active duty or retired—manage public companies. Recently, an officer of the Guardia Nacional Boliviana, who was active in repressing the protests of 2017, has been named director of PDVSA. Others have connections with the narcos, and some hold governmental positions. In 2002 there were seventy generals in Venezuela, now there are 1,200. The common soldiers have gained little and are a reservoir of violence and desertion. The army does not at present seem to be showing signs of rebellion, and, if such sentiments do exist in the middle ranks of officers, those who harbor them live in fear of Cuban espionage.
- 1“Venezuela’s Unprecedented Collapse,” Project Syndicate, July 31, 2017, a brief résumé of the internal report Background and Recent Economic Trends (Harvard Center for International Development, 2017). ↩
- 2As of this writing, the minimum monthly wage is $5, enough to buy four pounds of meat and nothing else. ↩
- 3“Don’t Cry for Me, Venezuela,” The New York Review, October 6, 2005. ↩
- 4Ramón Espinasa and Carlos Sucre, The Fall and Collapse of the Venezuelan Oil Sector, August 2017. See also Igor Hernández and Francisco Monaldi, Weathering Collapse: An Assessment of the Financial and Operational Situation of the Venezuelan Oil Industry, Center for International Development Working Paper no. 327, November 2016, Harvard University; available at growthlab.cid.harvard.edu. ↩
- 5The International Criminal Court in The Hague announced on February 8 that preliminary probes would be made into alleged crimes by police and security forces in Venezuela. The crimes concern “frequently used excessive force to disperse and put down demonstrations,” as well as the abuse of some opposition members in detention. See Aryeh Neier, “A Glimmer of Justice,” in the online edition of this issue. ↩