embezzle the country - background to the paranoid tendencies

After many many years of corrupt governments, a relaxed attitude towards the law and the constitution and a severe lack of anybody to stop it, the riches of the country went to hell.

That's what they taught me in history class anyway.

The country's main activity has always been oil. It sells oil, period. Nobody cares about the country as long as it sells oil. It's been that way for almost 100 years and it'll keep being this way for many more.

Initially, governments built a great nation of plenty. Poverty was almost non existent and everybody was living la vida gorda. It peaks around 1955. Then some greedy men came and started stealing the national treasure. People thought, hey, they're doing it, so we can do it too. And thus the mentality of the classic South American fat cat. No te pido que me des sino que me pongas donde haiga... (I am aware that this is poor Spanish language, but FYI, it's a request for god to not provide this man with sustenance, but to place this man where there's plenty)

So slowly things went to hell. The governments instead of educating people and making social programs for the creation of a lucrative economy and such, they just provided people with whatever they needed and thus generating a culture of government funded national charity, where people didn't have to work because they could live off whatever they could obtain from social programs, kinda like welfare gone wild.

And so, around the year that I was born the economy started taking a massive dive that hasn't stopped ever since. Imagine that in the 70's you could buy 1 US dollar for 4.30 of the local coin. Some 36 years later, it's 1 buck for 2150... and that's only because 3 years ago the government had to regulate money exchange, because otherwise the coin would keep losing value in the international markets and thus be at around 4000 instead of 2150. I wish I knew more of economics. Mind you, this is my interpretation, not necessarily the way things happened.

So back in the early 90's this crazy low ranking military dude tries to overthrow the second most corrupt government in the history of the country. He fails, gets stripped of his rank and dishonorably kicked out of the army, gets thrown in jail, the country goes through like 4 presidents in 4 years and eventually a really old man takes up the challenge to run the place. Old man, for some reason that is still beyond anybody's comprehension, grants a full pardon for the crazy ex low ranking military dude for his attempted overthrowing the govt, his disloyalty to the country and other crimes and so on and crazy dude goes free.

1998 comes and the old man's presidential period ends, crazy ex military dude runs for president promising social change, the end of corruption and blah blah blah the usual crap, people believe him and he wins. Not 2 years go by and he manages to establish the country's most corrupt government so far. Imagine that his team has managed to steal, embezzle and squander 5 times more money in 7 years than the bad guys before him did in 40 years. And I’m talking trillions here.

So dude manages to charm the lower classes and accuse the upper classes for the lower classes' crappy life, creates mistrust on both sides and sparks hatred of the poor against the rich and creates a massive social rift. We're talking about a 25 million people country with 95% of the population in critical poverty. So that makes about 22.5 million angry resource lacking people against a small middle class and a medium size upper class.

Don't get me wrong, although I studied abroad (i.e. not in this heavenly paradise I’m describing), I had to pay for most of my stuff there and my parents worked their asses off to pay for some of my stuff. My family is middle working class; my parents are well beyond retirement age (above 60 each) and are still working because otherwise we don't eat. Having a degree and all the skills I have, I earn less than $500us a month, ok? So spare me the rich kid comments.

So the ones that are actually rich left because of the accusations, violence and such and because they have the money to leave. Meanwhile the middle class is stuck in the country with a 20 something million people targeting them as the source of their troubles because there's nobody else left to blame.

Meanwhile the government is enjoying higher oil earnings than ever before and using that money for the regime team's retirement and to buy other neighboring countries' into spreading this social revolution of the crazy ex military dude.

So now there are many versions on what happened next happened. The opposing parties say as much as 80% disagrees with the govt and the govt says 80% is loyal to it. Tough thing to estimate for real because people are now afraid to talk but in any case, massive protests against the regime began and lead to a strike back in 2002. Government lashes out sending troops against opposing protestors, people allegedly sympathetic to the government kill people at protests, govt creates little mercenary armies to defend the govts interests and begins an intimidation campaign worthy of Stalin. Hell, my grandparents lived through Hitler's regime and they say it wasn't that bad compared to what they are seeing today and they predict this to get much worse.

Mind you, when I say lived through Hitler I don't necessarily imply they supported that regime. Something that most people don't know because they've never been in a situation like it is that not all Germans during WWII were supportive of their government, actually many were against yet powerless the government. This is because, well I’m sure you've read history, of the repeated bombings of their cities (i.e. Hitler declaring war on everybody else and him getting what he deserved, and killing many innocent people in the process) and the fact that it was either fight for Germany or get some free torture, courtesy of the SS and other state run police forces. People back then had no choice but to say they agreed with the government forget crappy deals for not doing so.

So back to the story. While the shit was hitting the fan with the violence, protests and strikes, I was studying in a different country thus I missed the opportunity to breath in fresh tear gas, get shot at by other people and have my human rights trampled on and laughed at by those in power. Crazy dude was toppled in 2002, but he returned to power not 3 days after. It is said that this was a staged overthrowing in order to flush out pretend supporters of the govt, which worked like a charm because those who were pretending turned against the govt soon after crazy guy was toppled. Of course, those that couldn't run away on time when crazy dude came back were all arrested and thrown in jail.

So it's been like that ever since, oppose the govt, go to jail without and await trial for some bogus crime. Well, sometimes crimes are committed under suspicious circumstances and after an "investigation"; turns out that it's always the criminals are those who speak out publicly against the regime. Classic eh?

And I say "investigation" because it's like this: recently 3 kids, sons of a somewhat wealthy man were kidnapped along with their driver on their way to school one morning. Months go by and the police find nothing. Not long ago the kids and driver were found dead, executed to be more precise, with clear signs that they were mistreated and tortured while captive. There's massive public outcry, justice is requested by many authorities and organizations. The investigation reveals that they were kidnapped at a fake police checkpoint by people dressed like police officers.
Turns out a person comes forward and testifies that he went through the road checkpoint at around the same time the kids were kidnapped and he identified 2 of the men at the checkpoint as real active police officers. The government officials quickly denied these claims and said that they were not police officers. This happened 2 days after the bodies were found.
So there's confusion, lots of lying, accusing and denying. Suddenly, 5 days after the bodies are found, 3 suspects are nabbed. Next day another 2. And so it goes. Now tell me if this is not fishy, months go by while the kids are held captive and the "investigation" leads to nothing. Bodies are found, there's public outcry, witnesses come forward implicating the police in this affair and suddenly suspects are caught? Come on...

So anyway, it's a constant state of paranoia here, and there's nothing anybody can do, checkmate. The country keeps the regime and it's doomed to a Cuban style dictatorship (crazy dude is like Castro's little clone, and good friends with Cuba and its authorities too!, oh well, at least we can get decent cigars here now) and if we remove the regime then there's a good chance of civil war and power struggle. So either way it's a lost cause.

How does this affect me? Well, in no way really, aside from endangering my life because of crime and possibly oppression, I guess its same old. At least I can still move out of the country but it'll be bad when that privlege is revoked by our dearly beloved leaders (shouldn't be too long, i'd say by 2007 we shall be prisoners here).

Then again, the lack of proper management of resources has brought the economy to the manure pile and the science and research sector has indeed become not existent. So, no real well-paying science jobs available for me = me disliking this.

But, if there's anything I've learned, is to keep my views neutral and my mouth shut. I neither agree nor disagree, mainly because the leaders of the opposing parties are the same fat cats that allowed this country to get into the mess it's now; and the current regime, well, you make up your own mind about it.

Personally, for all I care, both sides can all be dragged by the ears into a giant pit full of snakes. Meanwhile, I'll keep working and trying to save up to get out of here.

Call me a defector, but I'm not dying for this or any other regime. My genes must succeed (read Richard Dawkins if you wanna know why)