Conversations with Luis Vásquez from Cantaura/El Tigre
Black Chronicles are a series of interviews conducted to different anarchists currently living in Venezuela, narrating all the struggles that they face living in one of the few socialist regimes of the 21st century. These interviews deal with the everyday lives of men and women and highlight the precarious situations to which they have been subjected.
In this edition we interview Luis Vásquez, libertarian colleague from Cantaura/El Tigre, musician in the band Genoxidio and promotor of the magazine “Existencia Muerta Records”. He will also be talking about being a father and libertarian in Venezuela:
1. Is it difficult being a father in the socialist state of Venezuela of the 21st century?
Hello comrade many thanks for taking the time for this initiative that helps us remember our objectives and bring together friends. In regards to the question, funnily enough I had my children at an ideal moment, as we weren’t so bad, and being a wage-earner meant that I could buy necessities for my children. Nowadays I see engineers, professionals and common people struggling to buy diapers or milk. Even though my kids are a little older it is still difficult being in charge and finding ways to bring food back home.
2. Have you had any health problems? What have you done when one of your children gets sick? Do you go to hospitals or clinics?
Thankfully I haven’t been sick recently. However one of my kids was in it got really complicated. After some time he’s recovered and this made us work even harder so that we could provide a medical insurance for all our children. No one pays it for us, we have opted for a private policy that isn’t too expansive. This at least gives us some tranquillity in regards to the wellbeing of our children. The situation in all hospitals is abysmal, in fact one of our nephews once came into the hospital with the flu and came out with a new illness.
3. How is the topic of education? Are you teaching?
Well now I have almost a year to conduct my personal project with my colleague, and we are also teaching in UNEF. I’m also finishing a post-graduate degree in logistics, which has resulted in a fusion of ideas between the processes of transport, libertarian ideas and bicycles. Teaching for me becomes a tool for showing my experiences rather than a profession to financially sustain myself with. It is one of the few activities that give me a sense of purpose, winning the respect and even admiration of students that I teach is incredibly gratifying.
4. You’ve had several business ventures with record labels like Existencia Muerta Records and the rehearsal room Meu Avo… What is going on with these projects?
The record label Existencia Muerta still exists and survives by offering discounts of even 70% and only sending through Ipostel, which takes up to one year to arrive to the intended destination. We decided to close our rehearsal room due to the crisis and several robbery attempts. We have started a new project and had to sell all our equipment to continue building our new office. We are dedicating ourselves to something which we believe will be successful and very well received by the community.
5. How is the issue of shortages where you live?
Here, like in most capital cities, it’s a complete disaster. The amount of people that are in the streets waiting for trucks to bring products is incredible because it is more reasonable to queue for 5 hours to buy a packet of diapers.
This is definitely an ingrained social problem. I have been in queues where bikers take control of the queue and pick which people can buy products. The police never intervene, I have seen all of this with my own eyes. There is a supermarket near my house that always saves some food for neighbours, which is consoling in this perverse context.
6. Have you ever been robbed? Do you belong to the crime statistics?
Of course they have. I was robbed 2 times by bikers and one time they entered our home and stole everything. This has been a really hard blow on us, especially now when it is so difficult to acquire things. This has made me lose faith in humanity, we now sleep with one of our eyes open, as my grandmother used to say.
7. How are the rationings of water and electricity in your area? Do you have internet, water and electricity?
Here shortages occur once a day every three hours, which is a huge inconvenience for work, but I use the time to read or do some kind of activity that doesn’t depend on electricity. The internet is total crap, in fact in my house we haven’t had any internet for three months. This has been reported but unless you offer money to the technicians no one will ever fix it, but oh well, I guess will have to get used to this?
8. You have participated in several solidarity campaigns with people who weren’t specifically anarchists but still managed to fight against the contamination of Tascabaña with José Manuel Delmoral and Rosbel Rangel… Could you expand on these campaigns?
I am still in contact with José Manuel. Not long ago they threw a grenade on the pavilion where he was imprisoned in. Thankfully he wasn’t injured and managed to escape alive, 5 people were injured one person died. I think that the grenade was intended for someone who was having trouble with criminal gangs and innocent people had to suffer the consequences. José could have died, which just goes to show the dangers of being imprisoned in Venezuela. Currently he is starting a new trial, his third one. He’s unfairly been in prison for 6 years, and when his previous trial was about to end they changed the judge. This is one of the thousands of cases that are happening in the country.
9. Does the ruling party remain being the main political hegemony force in Anzoátegui?
No, here people are beginning to make more of an effort, they are passive but very angry. The opposition takes advantage of this and I still don’t understand how people still fall into the same old trap. The thing is that here there is an inexplicable passivity, which makes me think that a huge social explosion is bound to happen. And I will be there to celebrate this awakening.
10. What are your thoughts on the anarchist movement in Venezuela?
There are some fearless comrades that never give up. There are others that distance theirselves for some time and eventually come back. Finally, there are some that have completely distanced themselves from the idea and stopped believing, but there are still those of us who think that we can plant something for a new tomorrow. I have decided to do what I can, perhaps in a more individualistic manner but I’m always interested in collective initiatives. I know that now more than ever we are suffering but we will get out of this mess stronger than ever, as my parents used to say “In the face of adversity, practice solidarity”.
11. To end this interview…What would you recommend to all younger comrades? What is going to happen in Venezuela?
I am happy that there is a large community of young people, especially here in the east that organize things. I express my admiration towards them because it must be exhausting and difficult. I try to help in any way I can all these comrades. My slogan is “we have been dealt a very hard era” but this is all part of the spectacle, strong and new ideas will come out of this. I can’t even fathom that something worse is going to happen in Venezuela than what we are facing today. Ironically this is what I told myself a year ago, so we have to prepare ourselves and do things to try to survive. I have had the chance to leave this country but I still have hope, I want to stay here because this is the place where my grandparents believed in. I can’t leave this ship because of these complications, I think that we all must try to contribute something to try and improve this rotten society.
Translated by Pietro Casati (email@example.com)