I have been hunkering down with work as of late. Call it the Quarter 3 slump.
While trying not to drown in old papers that need to be graded, beating back stress, and simply attempting to enjoy my last few months here in Venezuela, the proverbial shit has hit the fan here.
As I’m sure people read, the US declared Venezuela “an extraordinary threat to the national security of the United States.” I honestly didn’t know how to react to this in writing without coming off as callous and condescending, so I kept quiet.
Since this announcement, multiple people have asked me–The Black Girl Who’s Actually American not Jamaican/Haitian/Trinidadian–for my opinion.
Do I think the US is going to attack Venezuela?
Do I think Venezuela is a threat to the US?
What do I think will happen?
Now I’m no diplomat, but my response is similar to the one I had back during the guarimbas, the violent political protests that rocked Venezuela last year.
Obama isn’t worried about you. He just said that he is, but he’s not. As discussed in the last paragraph of The New York Times article “Obama Order Freezes Assets of 7 Individuals in Venezuela,” declaring Venezuela a threat to national security was necessary to freeze foreign individual’s assets.
Do I think that was a smart move? Absolutely not. The New York Times’ editorial board agrees with me. Anyone here in Venezuela can tell you how Maduro is digging for reasons why the country has the second highest inflation rate in the world, and Maduro always claims it’s because the US is leading an economic coup. Now, Obama just gave Maduro exactly what he needed so he can hang on for a few months longer as the economy spins out of control.
I can’t resist giving a school analogy. The official Venezuelan government is like that boy you enjoy hanging out with in school but he’s a little too crazy to really consider him a friend, friend. He’s always getting into something (re: economic catastrophe); arguing with other students (re: saying Colombia is also in on the economic coup now when Colombia’s trying to mind its business and lower its once sky high crime rate); cursing out the teacher for failing the class when he failed to turn in the project (re: keeping oil prices here in Venezuela at ridiculous lows when it could be a revenue-generating source and refusing to free foreign currency); and disrespecting everyone except his Daddy (re: Chavez and anyone who supports The Revolution).
Now, imagine that boy gunning for the teacher as the source of all his problems.
That’s Venezuela and the US.
And the US, though it possesses a disgustingly filthy history here in Latin America, is like how I am when I have a truly challenging student. At some point (for my own personal and professional sanity) I have to step back and watch the madness unfold because I am no longer willing to get dragged into the meetings, debates, accusations, and sheer drama.
A year later, when the student gets expelled or is on the brink of expulsion (which happened to at least two students I taught in the past) I do all I can to hold my face in a blank, professional expression and keep silent when I want to say “Didn’t I say this student needed help a while ago? Didn’t I say this student’s path could be very problematic if continued down?”
That’s Venezuela and the US.
The US knows it doesn’t have to do anything here. Venezuela is self-imploding. This beautiful country with amazingly warm people is imploding because ideology on both sides is making conversation difficult and restoration a hoped for dream. For this reason, I don’t even bother with a TV here. (1.) I don’t want to lug it as I continually move around the globe. (2.) I’m not trying to hear propaganda from the state-owned stations or watch female newscasters in tight clothing and high heels.
I’d rather do other things.
So I’m no diplomat but if this is diplomacy I’m sure I can do A-OK at the job.
And when people ask me what I think will happen–which I’m tired of answering, quite frankly–because I’m tired of my English-inflected accent giving me away, I’ll continually say as politely as possible I don’t see any military action occurring.
And I’ll go back to staring at the stack of papers that still needs grading.