As always the comments are welcome
A few days ago I finished reading for the second time one of my favorites books, Open Veins of Latin America (Las Venas Abiertas de America Latina) by Eduardo Galeano. While I was reading the epilogue I found a fragment where the author explained the situation of Venezuela’s society after the nationalization of the petroleum industry (in 1976). This description was so accurate and has a strong link to the actual situation, that it inspired me to title this article “We have not learnt anything”.
Eduardo Galeano, in April of 1978 said:
“The nationalization of the basic resources does not in itself imply a redistribution of income for the majority’s benefit, nor does it necessarily endanger the power and the privileges of the dominant minority. In Venezuela the economy of waste and extravagance continues intact. The neon lit centre is as resplendent as ever with the squander mania of a multimillionaire class. In 1976 imports rose by 25% largely to bring super-luxury articles which inundate the Venezuelan market with junk. Commodity fetishism as a symbol of power, human existence reduced to competitive and consumer relationships. In the ocean of underdevelopment the privileged minority apes the lifestyle and fashions of the richest members of the world most opulent societies. In the bedlam of Caracas as New York, commodities that are “natural” by definition; air, light, silence become ever costlier and costlier. “What out” warns Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso, patriarch of Venezuela’s Nationalism and prophet of the recovery of its oil, “One can die from indigestion as well as from hunger”
Sadly for us, more than 30 years have passed and the situation is almost the same. The old aged whiskey, Blackberrys, Ipods, the fashion of cosmetic surgery and a lot of other luxury things are the best example that how in Venezuela We still trying to imitate the lifestyle of the developed countries, while only a few hours by car from Caracas you can find populations without basic services. Power relations and a social nesting in the ways of our assets, how Galeano said “Human existence reduced to competition and consumer relationships”. In conclusion a society that reflects superficiality, wasteful, consumerism, and the most worrying, it seems that we are importing also the way to walk.
And It seems with each oil boom we exacerbate this kind of behaviour, as in the seventies the boom generated phases like “ta barato dame dos” (It’s cheap, give me two) the recent oil bonanza has generated things as “Yo sólo tomo mayor de edad” (I only drink major aged) or “Yo no puedo vivir sin mi BB (Blackberry)” (I can’t live without my BB).
The Venezuelans are living in a party when we have a oil bonanza and we will feel very bad when this leaves us. We live day to day and enjoy “the lottery” of the oil price as if tomorrow was over. The main problem is we do not think in tomorrow, the next week or the next month, we live to enjoy the oil income and not to build a country, despite suffering severe economics and social crisis during the past 30 years Venezuelans have not learnt anything.