Tito from Custos Fidei has made it a custom to call this blog and its contributors anywhere from “Marxists” to “heterodox.” This is not new, since these attacks, which became vicious at times, started in our former blog, Evangelical Catholicism, while discussing illegal immigration. I was called many times by Tito a “communist” who was in favor of “social engineering” and so forth. I do not value Tito’s misinterpretation of my views too much, because this comes from the same person who accused Hans Urs von Balthasar of being a universalist and who supposedly did not deserve to be considered to become a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. Having never read this theologian’s works, Tito still felt compelled to launch the attack on Balthasar, so of course, why would it surprise me that he can misrepresent anyone else’s views including mine or any of the other contributors of this blog? Normally, I try not to pay attention to these kinds of accusations that happen in the blogosphere, because they come from people who do not know each other personally, but this time around I decided to set the record straight, because he picked the wrong person to call a Marxist or a communist. Enough is enough.
I do not take Tito’s remarks as personal, because as I have mentioned above, he does not know me or my boyfriend, Policraticus, personally or any of the contributors of this blog, for that matter. Even though I do not take them personally, I thought it would be worth sharing a few personal details about my life and my family, which do not apply to me alone in order to warn against using such strong labels.
My grandfather, a Yugoslavian, was stripped of all his properties in the late 1940s by the Communists and was imprisoned for quite some time. He turned out to be one of the lucky ones, because eleven of his twelve siblings were killed at the hands of the same communists. Later, he was able to escape Yugoslavia with nothing but the clothes he was wearing and some money that he kept in his underwear all that time. Finally, he reached New York City with nothing and had to start all over again. He moved to Venezuela and worked for the oil industry there where he met my grandmother and had to start a family with nothing to offer them. Only my grandmother knows how my grandfather was affected and haunted until his last days by those terrible months he spent in captivity and of the shock of being stripped of his family and everything he worked so hard for. He could only speak in deep sorrow about what the communists had done to his life, his family, his country, and his people. He never recovered his properties, which are in Serbia unclaimed until this day.
One his cousins who survived the communist regime was able to move to Chicago and lived there many years until he passed away a couple of months ago. He was an engineer who also had to start from scratch, but his life after communism was never the same. Throughout his life, he saved all his money to the point that he lived in precarious conditions for fear that the communists will come and seize his properties. He would refuse to have a phone or internet for fear that the communists would find him. It is hard for us to imagine what deep mark Communism had on him and many other people, to the point that many years after the Cold War had ended, he still thought that communists were looking after him.
I, too, live day after day the consequences of communism, which is masked by Hugo Chavez as socialism, but it is simply not. I do not live in Venezuela anymore, but my dear friends and family do and it is through them and with them that I suffer the consequences of the actions and words of this lunatic. My direct family and I moved to this country nine years ago, simply because my dad could not afford housing, education, or perhaps even food for us. We never owned a house, so we always had to rent. However, rent was starting to be charged all around the country in dollars instead of the local currency and due to the dramatic devaluation of the Bolívar, my dad could simply not afford to support us. This was nine years ago, now the inflation brought about by Chavez’s “regime” due to his domestic and foreign policy and the uncertainty he brings to the nation is almost immeasurable. Along with the rampant inflation is the even worse decline in value of the Bolívar, which has made food unaffordable. On top of that, the problem is not only being unable to afford food prices, but to actually find them in supermarkets. Basic foods are nowhere to be found in Venezuela: milk, eggs, sugar, beans, rice, corn flour to name only a few. Private properties are being invaded and seized. Crime is worse than it has ever been in history. Political prisoners and random arrests of prominent opposition and media leaders abound all throughout the country. I cannot but tell you how hard it is to hear friends and family telling me that they cannot afford food or medication. We help out our family financially so they can afford the basics and perhaps little luxuries like eating out, but the real tragedy is the severe depression that my loved ones are going through. In their minds, they see that they worked hard towards a degree, work hard in their jobs and see that they cannot afford the basics necessities if it would not be for their relatives. It seems that they are in a hole that is only being dug deeper and there is nothing they can do about it.
Venezuela is now basically bankrupt, especially with ExxonMobil (rightly) freezing the worldwide assets of PDVSA (Venezuela’s oil company) due to a 35-year old contract that PDVSA broke with them on 2006 breaking any kind of laws imaginable. This happened because Chavez wanted to nationalize the assets that ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips had built in Venezuela despite of all the investments these companies, among others, had made since 1995. These lawsuits may in fact be an embargo on Venezuela in the long term, because the country may not be able to pay back the debt they have with the oil giants, since Chavez is giving oil to other countries for free. In other words, since Venezuela’s economic support is based solely on oil, 90% of the country’s income may suddenly be shut down and we know who the ones that pay the price are: the Venezuelan people, especially the poor. This is not socialism, folks, this is communism: plain and simple.
I can tell you a thing or two about communism. So, next time, be careful who you call a communist, because you may soon realize you were wrong.