Journal

Personal explorations and stories I find on the way

Taking candy from a baby

I met her during the parliamentary elections of December 2015. She stood outside of the Bolivar-Chavez campaign command, hoping for an official win. But she wasn't the average party follower: she didn't cheer, nor sing government anthems. Instead she just waited quietly in a corner, waiting for results.

She came up to me and grabbed my hand: Do you think we will win? She looked at me eyes wide open, with a gaze of hopelessness that was hard to overcome. The word had already gotten out: the official party was down, down by a lot. Everyone was in absolute disbelieve as the government hadn't lost a single election in almost 10 years. Supporters started lo leave quietly and one at a time; the stage that had traditionally been the spotlight for official celebration of victories was being dismantled a few steps away. Everyone whispered the rumours, and expectation built up.

In her 70s, alone and homeless, she had gone to Mision Vivienda, a government housing project, and put her name on a list, hoping that, with a little luck, she would get a house. She had sons but they didn't care for her situation, housing was her last resort. They told her that the allocation process had stopped until elections were over, that if the official party didn't win, they might entirely stop giving houses because the "revolution would be on jeopardy", they told her that the opposition party would take all social benefits from people like her. She was frightened to death: her ankle was broken and she couldn't find basic supplies to get surgery, it's already hard to live on the streets at that age, it gets worse if you're not be able to walk. She stared as if this was the defining moment of her life, as if everything she knew relied on those results. I felt the desperation.

She didn't move, even when there was nobody left in the place, even when it was made public that 112 out of 167 seats were won by the opposition, giving them a supermajority in congress. She was slowly falling from desperation to despair, as if all those numbers could only translate to the fact that her life was not going to change, ever. She came up to me and grabbed my hand one last time, her eyes were adrift: what will I do now? She was coming to terms with the idea that the last years of her life might never change for the better, she was accepting a terrifying fate.

A few days after the defeat, Nicolas Maduro threatened on national television to stop the construction of government housing. Tan fácil como quitarle el dulce a un niño...

I wanted to build 500 thousand houses next year. Now I’m doubting it, not because I can’t build them because I can, but I asked for your support and you denied it.
— Nicolas Maduro

Adriana L.