A las puertas de una Guerra Civil

Caracas Gringo is posting this guest post with the permission of my good friend Eric Ekvall and Luis Betancourt Oteyza. A clarification: Eric is NOT Caracas Gringo.

Amigos,

Este escrito de Luis Betancourt Oteyza constituye una radiografía brutalmente precisa del actual entorno político en Venezuela.

Lo único que le agregaría es que la situación nunca hubiera llegado al punto tan crítico de hoy si no fuera por unos cuantos dirigentes políticos dizque de oposición que llevan años haciéndole de manera sigilosa el juego a los designios del régimen.

Ver, por ejemplo la composición del equipo electoral escogido esta semana por el comando de Henrique Capriles Radonski (http://www.lapatilla.com/site/2012/05/02/comando-venezuela-presenta-equipo-electoral/ ) cuyos integrantes en su mayoría (por ej. Vicente Bello, Felix Arroyo, Enrique Márquez) son — para quienes han seguido sus trayectorías y fechorías — conocidos colaboradores del régimen. Traidores, en una palabra, a la causa opositora.

Me atrevo a afirmar que si no hubiera sido por la absoluta falta de principios de un conciliábulo de individuos claves que han jugado y siguen jugando un papel preponderante en el manejo de la causa opositora, la MUD, y ahora la casi irrelevante campaña de Henrique Capriles Radonski — y aquí me refiero específicamente a Teodoro Petkoff, Omar Barboza, Manuel Rosales, Henry Ramos Allup, Julio Borges, entre otros, además de su séquito de seguidores, aduladores, y los siempre amorales interesados — no estaría Venezuela en el terrible camino sin salida en el cual se encuentra actualmente.

Qué precio hemos pagado por no haber tenido la lúcidez, el coraje y las convicciones necesarias para enfrentar este enemigo interno. No, no todos se han dejado comprar. Sólo los que mueven las piezas claves en el ajedrez de la política opositora, o aquellos, y hay tantos, que han mantenido un silencio cómplice frente a la duplicidad de los traidores.

Eric Ekvall
Caracas 8 de mayo, 2012

Este ensayo es publicado con el permiso del autor, Luis Betancourt Oteyza:

Hugo Chávez está mortalmente enfermo; no se recuperará de su mal y más pronto de lo previsto saldrá de la escena. Esto no puede seguirse ocultando ni descuidando. Después de 13 años de gobierno unipersonal, degenerado en una Tiranía, barridas todas las instituciones públicas y mermadas las otras, el país pronto se encontrará a la deriva y sumido en una crisis puntual de dimensiones muy peligrosas para su soberanía y hasta subsistencia como nación.

Venezuela puede dejar de ser la que se constituyó en 1830, luego de la desmembración de la Gran Colombia, y que hemos conocido hasta este principio del siglo XXI; puede que no mantenga su estructura territorial ni su conformación de estado único, independiente y con la vocación de futuro de ayer.

No voy a abundar en el alerta pero sí quisiera recubrir de la mayor seriedad y alarma el llamado de atención que me propongo transmitir en estos momentos.

Ante esta grave encrucijada se están desarrollando dos comportamientos políticos para conjurar el futuro inmediato:

Por un lado, el Chavismo, entendido como toda la gama de causahabientes de este proceso iniciado en 1999, está preparando una transición a toda carrera, manido de su conocimiento del estado real de la enfermedad de su líder con un solo objetivo: NO abandonar el control del poder y por el contrario, profundizarlo y extenderlo a toda la sociedad, totalitariamente, para evitar una cercana reacción que la libere.

En este propósito coinciden tres sectores interesados:

- El primero, el Castrismo Cubano, que recibe en los recursos materiales venezolanos el oxígeno indispensable para mantener su tiranía sobre el pueblo de Cuba y no puede prescindir de este dominio. Es de vida y muerte. Venezuela hoy es a los hermanos Castro y sus secuaces comunistas lo que la India fue para el Imperio victoriano inglés: La Joya de la Corona.

- El segundo sector es el constituido por todos aquellos comunistas y similares que ven, por fin, en este proceso“revolucionario” la razón de ser de sus vidas y prefieren seguirlo sin reparar en el costo social, económico ni humano que él representa para los venezolanos. Creen que se debe mantener a toda costa y costo; ya nos advirtieron el 4 de febrero pasado que “La patria o es socialista o no será patria”. Es el apetecido camino a su Shangri-La.

- Y el tercer sector es el conformado por todos aquellos, civiles y militares, que encuentran en el “proceso” la fuente de su enriquecimiento y redención social y económica, que saben cesará cuando pierdan el poder y que no podrán disfrutarlo allende las fronteras de su presa. Algo de esto ya quedó al descubierto con la confesión pública del ex magistrado y Coronel Aponte Aponte. Aquí no me refiero a los rapiñosos de siempre que como rémoras recogen sus bocados de lo que descuidan los tiburones; esos siempre existirán y tratan siempre de acomodarse a nuevos actores, cuando los hay. No, me refiero a los que ya no pueden salirse de la Mafia sino como lo hizo el magistrado correlón: entregando todo al precio de una vida, vida al fin, en relativa libertad. Son los que no quieren ni pueden dejar de cabalgar el tigre. Estos tres sectores están dispuestos a todo, hasta ejercer la violencia, para mantener su poder, y tienen con qué.

La reunión de 24 “Colectivos Oficialistas” en el Parque Central de Caracas, con la asistencia de Henry Rangel Silva, reseñada en El Nacional de hoy domingo 6 de mayo, es un botón de la mejor muestra; sólo hay que repasar tres cosas en esa reseña:

- Las palabras del guerrillero Julio Escalona,

- La lista de las pandillas presentes y

- La intervención del General Henry Rangel Silva, con uniforme verde oliva, Ministro de la Defensa.

Parece la reseña de un aquelarre medieval pero ocurrió aquí y ahora, y se va a repetir. Pues bien, este Chavismo está implementando varios planes para conseguir su fin:

- Tiene un plan electoral a cargo del CNE;

- Tiene un plan institucional a cargo del desempolvado Consejo de Estado;

- Tiene su respaldo judicial a cargo del TSJ; y

- Tiene su plan militar a cargo del Ministerio de la Defensa y las fuerzas de ocupación bajo el control cubano, y estos planes los están desarrollando ya, todos en paralelo.

Es la estrategia del perdigonazo: algún plomo alcanzará el objetivo.

Por el otro lado están las fuerzas de la llamada “Oposición”, con su candidato electo en impecables elecciones primarias; con su comportamiento apegado a las reglas convencionales de la política tradicional y sin ánimo de confrontar el esquema legal que pautan las normas, que sólo ellos siguen en la actualidad; mientras Chávez y sus acólitos han violado la constitución y toda la pirámide legal del estado varias veces, la oposición se mantiene ejemplarmente dentro de un juego democrático, que juega sola y, me atrevería a decir, cada día ante menos espectadores.

No está alertando con la anticipación debida el desarrollo de la transición inevitable, y parece segura y confiada en que la historia excusará su inacción. Nadie de entre sus filas advierte que Chávez está dejando de existir, que debe abandonar formalmente su cargo, y hasta algunos insisten en pedirle inexplicablemente que se reincorpore.

Nadie exige un CNE transparente y confiable que guíe el proceso electoral, de darse.

Nadie advierte que Jaua no puede asumir la sustitución constitucional de Chávez por carecer de condiciones y del respaldo nacional necesario en la coyuntura.

Nadie pide la renuncia, no del presidente agónico, sino del gobierno entero y la conformación de uno de transición, que evite el baño de sangre con que nos amenaza Fidel Castro.

Estamos a las puertas de una guerra civil, asimétrica por ahora; será una guerra anunciada que matará a muchos.

Caracas, 6 de mayo de 2012
Luis Betancourt Oteyza

Update 9 May:

A reader asks what kind of damage a group like La Piedrita armed with AK-103′s could inflict. Here are three videos of the AK-103 and AK-104 (the short-barrelled, folding stock version of the AK-103). These are the Russian assault rifles imported by the Chavez regime: 100,000 since 2005, plus a factory in Venezuela to manufacture the weapons here (apologies for the background music).

20 thoughts on “A las puertas de una Guerra Civil

  1. Surprised (actually, puzzled) to see this low-substance, sub-ND stuff in CaracasGringo.

    Caracas Gringo reply: Thank you for your comment. Unsure what you mean by “sub-ND stuff.” I posted it because I believe Mr Betancourt Oteyza is correct in his assessment of what’s coming. Fidel Castro will not let go of Venezuela. Without the Venezuelan oil and financial lifeline the Cuban regime’s implosion/collapse will accelerate. Fidel has had his sights set on gaining control of Venezuela since the 1950s. Chavez gave the country over to Fidel, completely. Today there are Cubans infiltrated in controlling positions in every institution of governance in Venezuela including the civil and mercantile registries, the tax and banking authorities, the cedula and passport control entity, the national police, armed forces and intelligence service, all of the core ministries including the foreign ministry, Pdvsa, etc. The majority of my Venezuelan friends hope that the elections on 7 October will open the door to real change and a possibility of rescuing their country. But I think they’re very mistaken. Washington and other governments in Latin America including Colombia and Brazil also are completely unprepared for what’s coming in Venezuela. For the past several years, Washington policymakers – at least on the right – have been fed a steady drumbeat of Iran/Venezuela terror links nonsense, when all along the real clear and present danger to Venezuela always was much closer to Caracas, in Havana but not Tehran. For that we can chiefly thank former Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega and his associate Martin Rodil, formerly a chauffeur at the Venezuelan embassy in DC.

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  2. Thanks for the guest post.

    The part I have trouble accepting is where certain opposition leaders like Petkoff et al are made out to be sellouts to the govt.

    Is this due to their actions in the Coordinadora a few years ago or is this in reference to more recent actions?

    Jesus, it’s getting so you don’t know where to turn to!!!!

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  3. Disparates desesperados -
    1. Asi como Marshal Philippe Petain traspaso la independencia de francia a los nazis, nuestro C,havez regala la soberania venezolana a los cubano-comunistas.
    2. Sabremos adivinar quien va ser nuestro Charles de Gaulle?
    3. Alguien sabra reconocer nuestros traidores al estilo Vichy?
    Delirios -
    1. Las palabritas baratas, y en cadena radial,
    sustentan nuestro quehacer diario, y porque no?
    2. Cada pendejada que el dia cotidiano brinda,
    como los muertos, las emboscadas diarias,
    las faltas a la dignidad humana
    son manjares de nuestros dias. A que no?
    Cheers

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  4. There would perhaps be more value in suggesting what the opposition sectors should do in view of the “armaggedon” Venezuela would be about to face. I have read many a prospective analysis on our inmediate predicaments, but I have yet to find a strategic approach suggestion, to this mess.
    Moreover, even if I differ substantially from some of the positions taken by a few of the opposition leaders mentioned above, and even admitting that some of them share a substantial portion of the wrong decisions made in 14 years of chavismo, I can’t assume anything different from believing that they have tried their best in extremely difficult circumstances. What you see is what you get. That’s all there is, folks. They reflect a good cross section of the people in this country. I can’t criticize others for not doing things that I myself I’m not willing to do or risk. Much more than political, our crisis is moral. Let us start by assuming our own shortcomings.

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    • Hi Hugo, Nice to see you again.I understand your viewpoint about the stye in our own eyes,and it is so true, but remember some people purposefully gravitate to a position of influence far greater than yours or mine.Some people are truly Machiavellian; others are dangerously naive.I have experience with these kinds of people and understand what might be referred to here.I don’t think it is realistic to assume ‘doing one’s best’ from all people- especially in politics…we have to imagine a percentage (however small) that will deviate from the norm.But we always go back to the question of what to do? And I for one have absolutely no idea.Maybe there is nothing we can do.But even if there is nothing we can do about anything right now, I think striving to become conscious of what is really happening is better than doing nothing at all because at least if we understand what is happening,or what might be happening, there could be a chance to do the right thing at some point when a possible solution arises.Sometimes it is a matter of simply not doing the wrong thing or being caught in the horrific position of being totally unaware.

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  5. I believe the 2 most-likely alternatives are:1) A ” relatively peaceful” transition led by the less-violent Chavista faction interested in keeping their ill-gotten gains via a “deal” (Diosdado, Rangel, et. al.), which, in turn, would allow “Chavismo” as a political force to live on in some form for a while; or 2) A relatively more-violent but short-term transition where the vast majority constitutional military intervene to keep the peace from the looting/burning street mobs, while the fat-cat Chavistas/Cuban infiltrators run. This latter scenario would result in a much more weakened “Chavismo” political force. The vast majority of Venezuelan military and their families have to continue to live in Venezuela, do not have the option/wherewithal to run, have a very big stake in a relatively peaceful transition, and do NOT like the Cubans. The street thugs a la Bernal, most-violent “Collectives”, et. al., will have to be eliminated, as Betancourt did upon assuming power. Most “Chavistas”, almost all ex-Adecos/Copeyanos, will simply change their shirt color once again. It must be remembered that pre-Chavez the Communists never exceeded 3% or so of the electorate, and probably still don’t.

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    • NET, I’m also in the belief that 2) is the more likely scenario – a brief period of chaos followed by saner heads restoring control. It serves neither side to have continued violence.

      Remember that the pueblo lives day to day. They don’t buy food for a week – they buy food for 1 or 2 days. If the distribution system is disrupted for any period of time there will be a backlash from the very people that support the regime.

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  6. This exaggerated analysis has to be taken with a rock of salt. For a guerra civil to happen at least two warring parties willing to go to war are needed. Where are those two, clearly defined, warring parties in Venezuela? Nowhere.

    Chavismo is, as of today, a no longer amalgamated political movement. The narcogenerals may well be willing to go to the bitter end to defend ill gotten gains, and, more importantly, their personal freedom. However, we’re talking about a small group of people, that aren’t necessarily the best of partners among themselves. These narcogenerals are high up in the military structure but it remains to be seen whether the troops under their command are going to actually go to war for them. I very much doubt it.

    We then have urban militias, again, far from being a homogenised front.

    We then have the Cubans, who have no friends. Nowhere. Diosdado hates them. The civilians (Jaua, Maduro, Rodriguez, etc.) probably hate them too. So yes they have presence in Venezuela, but their presence counts for nothing if Chavez is no longer in the picture. Chavistas have been putting up with them because of Chavez. Take Chavez out of the equation and what may the likes of Cabello and Cliver Alcala be thinking? Does anyone actually think that Cubans will continue dictating stuff to the likes of Cabello et al?

    Then we have the FARC, who are about to lose a 1 million square kilometer reposadero and launching pad for their cocaine trade. Are they in a position to fight two wars, one against Santos and another against some unknown enemy in Venezuela? No chance.

    What makes me doubt that Venezuela is going to go to a civil war is the fact that Venezuelans, in general, are cowards. Venezuelans, in general, are unwilling to risk life and limb for some abstract concept, as the defence of a political movement or a government is.

    Therefore I doubt that we’ll see a civil war. What we are likely to see is the internecine war of chavismo, a la Reservoir Dogs, but there’s so much about chavismo that we simply don’t know that all of this is mere speculation. How long will it take for chavistas to eliminate each other out in their quest for power and a life away from prison is anyone’s guess.

    What I think will happen is a re-emergence of Pedro Carmona types. In the ensuing chaos, mas de un vivo is going to try and capitalise from the mess. Who’s that neo-Carmona? Again, we are in no position to know.

    Capriles is desperately trying to fill the void left by Chavez’s absence in the country’s politics. But no one is paying any attention to him. He’s just become irrelevant, together with his MUD and hangers on. I very much doubt he will any role to play in the aftermath of Chavez’s death.

    Having said that I still think that the analysis presented above is flawed.

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  7. Caracas Gringo, you are very right in publishing Betancourt’s view, and your assessment about it is also correct. Many active opposition leaders belong to good old times and some of them not only still play with those relaxed rules but also have deep underground channels –or common commmercial interests, to say the least- with the government. The youngest simply do not comprehend what this regime is all about. And Capriles “style” is a direct consequence of his personality: an efficient political manager who compensates his more or less limited charisma with government accomplishments. May be this is just what the country needs now and during many years to come, but that style, within the communicational playground imposed by Chávez during 14 years, seems “weak” to many voters on both sides. And yes, many still remember the weak actitude of past candidate Rosales. Besides the soundness of Betancourt and Gringo analysis, it is also clear that Capriles perceived weakness exacerbates the views of the opposition’s more radical analysts, who in this way help to diminish the enthusiasm of Capriles supporters. It’s a fact and he must deal with it urgently, or many people simply will start to think that they elected the wrong person: who knows, they may say, perhaps Ledezma or Pablo (Perez) might have been a better “gallo” to confront and impose his personality over the coming chaos.
    Hermann

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  8. Civil war? Doubtful since the oppo become more and more irrelevant and are unarmed. Succession war within Chavismo? Highly probable, they have the weapons, the recklessness, all the power, the money and the lack of principles. Overall, not a bad outcome. Be ready to sit down and pass the popcorn. However,

    personally, more than civil war I am worried of a total breakdown of law and order, such as the police specializing in secuestros express as happened recently on a grand scale in Caracas

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    • I generally agree with this comment. A civil war takes place between armed factions, and the opposition has no weapons. What I see is an increasing probability of “somalization” in Venezuela, i.e. warlords here and there controlling portions of territory. I also think that as the process of political and social breakdown advances, there is more likelyhood that some of the border states with Colombia, might begin to function autonomically in a loose “crescent moon”-type integration. Of course, this is all speculation. Anything can happen, it is just a question of probabilities

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  9. “The part I have trouble accepting is where certain opposition leaders like Petkoff et al are made out to be sellouts to the govt.”

    This is largely what I was referring to when i commented negatively on the post. For years and ad nauseam we’ve been reading about how this or that (though most often even their identities are unspecified) oppo character is a chavista mole of some kind (emphasis on “some” since how they are helping chavismo is also rarely specified, let alone substantiated). Call it Post Arias Cardenas Stress Syndrome.

    “For the past several years, Washington policymakers – at least on the right – have been fed a steady drumbeat of Iran/Venezuela terror links nonsense, when all along the real clear and present danger to Venezuela always was much closer to Caracas, in Havana but not Tehran.”

    Is it possible that the specter of a Havana-directed civil-war has been discounted by the US because Angola was a long time ago?

    “For a guerra civil to happen at least two warring parties willing to go to war are needed. Where are those two, clearly defined, warring parties in Venezuela? Nowhere.”

    Well at some point someone will have to put La Piedrita et al down.

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    • The figure for La Piedrita et al is apparently of the order of 3,000 guns, all or most in 23 Enero. How much damage can they do citywise or nationally rather than shoot each other in their neighborhood?

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      • La Piedrita are a bunch of untrained macho imbecile drunks with powerful weapons. However, some well trained special forces unit would need less than 100 men and finish them in less than a day.

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  10. Any possibility that the MUDs have been negotiating under the table deals with a few key Generals and the likes ?

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  11. All this sounds fascinating, especially if you are trying to sell a book or something. “Game of Thrones” tropical. The other side of the story is that the opposition has behaved impeccably (3 million votes, señores), that the opposition has no other way of approaching the problem, since they lack firepower or the support of the international community for anything other than elections, and that Capriles is only “irrelevant” in your imagination. I bet you never thought the primaries would take place and bought the doom scenarios of the castrochavistas. In the real world, my friends, Capriles already has given Venezuela the hope it needed to leave the apathy behind. The apathy and paralysis that people like you are so intent on generating. O corren o se encaraman.

    Caracas Gringo reply: You’re right in stating that the opposition has NO OTHER WAY except elections, o sea the oppo’s ONLY weapon is the vote and total commitment to peaceful change. However, the Chavez regime and its supporters have NEVER played by democratic rules. You’re also under-estimating the capacity and willingness of the castrochavistas to inflict mayhem, and under-estimating Fidel’s desperate determination to hang on to Venezuela because without Venezuela his Cuban revolution’s demise will accelerate by several orders of magnitude. Fidel urged Nikita Krushchev to launch a massive pre-emptive nuclear strike at the United States at the height of the Cuban misile crisis in 1962. In fact, Fidel’s “Armaggedon letter” is what convinced Nikita to settle quickly with the US (read Brian Latell’s new book: “Castro’s Secrets”). Do you think Fidel has become a kinder, gentler man in the decades since? I’ll bet that if you participated in the 11 April 2002 peaceful march for change you never for an instant, on that horrible day that started with so much promise, anticipated the slaughter that was perpetrated in downtown Caracas by Chavez regime gunmen. I’ll bet, also, that you never anticipated that Pedro Carmona and his closest backers from Rafael Caldera’s inner circle would betray everyone who trusted in Carmona’s “leadership.” But you’re completely mistaken in assuming that we “never thought the primaries would take place.” Hope is, indeed, a powerful force for change, and certainly I hope there WILL be peaceful change, I certainly hope that my worst fears WILL be proven wrong. My wife and I have lots of family and friends in Venezuela whom we love dearly. My four children were born in Venezuela. Everything good in my life was realized in Venezuela. I’m a gringo who fell deeply in love with Venezuela from the very first day that I visited this beautiful country in 1973 and came into direct contact with the Venezuelan people. Yet, I notice that your e-mail account is from Germany, where my oldest son and daughter have lived since 1994. Are you in Venezuela now? If not, how long has it been since you left?

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    • I never left. And that is why I can tell you, without the shadow of a doubt, that the millions of democrats of this country will prevail.

      You talk about the past. We all have learned from the past. We didn’t know what castrochavistas really were about. But, believe me Gringo, we DO know now. “Fidel’s desperate determination” can only go as far as ours will allow it. You say I underestimate the forces that are at play. Well, I should know. I lost everything to them: my old life, all my earthly possesions and a country my children can live in. We, the democrats of this country, and I include you in this group, have come very far. Together, we will continue to build a peaceful path out of this quagmire. With discipline, courage and the careful consideration of the tangible, positive, constructive contribution that each of us can offer.

      As Vicente Diaz correctly said today, only when people entertain the possibility of these doomsday scenarios happening, will they have the slightest chance of becoming reality. “Profecías autocumplidas” he called them, and I agree. They have G2 written all over them, and WE will NOT fall for them.

      The democrats of this country will stand as ONE and will let the increasingly weakened and disoriented violent groups know that their untenable, absurd plots de pacotilla have not one chance in hell of coming to fruition, THEY WILL FAIL, AND THEY KNOW IT. As simple as that. We have our route, we will not stray from it. We will be alert and careful, AND we will not falter. We -the millions of democrats in Venezuela- do not HOPE for peaceful change. We will make it happen. O corren o se encaraman.

      Caracas Gringo reply: Awesomely put. I pray you are right, for the sake of our children and a wonderful people who have been so terribly abused by Chavez, and before Chavez by the slimeballs who made Chavez possible in the first place, many of whom today claim to be true democrats.

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      • Maria, as a 25 year resident of Venezuela I feel exactly as you do. We will prevail – we have to.

        For the first time in years I feel real hope that the end of this nightmare is at hand. The transition will be difficult but it will happen.

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  12. Caracas Gringo…

    We have a few things things in common .I moved to Venezuela around the same time you did , have 4 children ,and also quickly fell in love with the country .We still have loads of family and friends there today, including a daughter who is from a previous marriage of my husband .For certain reasons, she cannot leave Venezuela, so you can imagine our concern.

    I left in 2002 because of the increasing crime rates and because one of my family members who was connected to the Military and others who were connected to political planning warned me of what was to come.I told my friends but nobody believed me.Nobody wanted to see the bizarre and evil alliance of ideology and drug connections at that time .Now that it is almost too late, many have come to see it.

    On the other hand, my husband’s friends at the Synagogue were warning of the upcoming loss of the value of my home (and I had already lost half its value) and then they spoke of the distinctly antisemitic character of the Chavez regime.I am not Jewish but my husband is….

    We got out about 2 months before the drastically falling price of my home would have made it SO much harder to leave….I am forever grateful that I keep an open mind.I think most of my life I have been” lucky” because of it.

    I cannot stress enough the importance of:

    Hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.I think this might be the main attitude needed for overcoming most difficult situations.

    So many people refuse to see what they don’t want to see, or else give up hope….both take away energy and possibilities.

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