I ended the “2017: Final Thoughts” post with this:
They say that dictatorships fall just as they appear to be strongest. If that is true, then I would expect the Maduro dictatorship to fall any before 2018 draws to a close.
I cannot remember where I read this assertion regarding the fall of dictatorships, but I’m quite sure that it was from Zizek.
In any case, the Maduro dictatorship did not fall in 2018. In fact, it appears to be stronger today than it did at the end of 2017. And so I’m caught in the same (Zizekian?) trap: they say that dictatorships fall just as they appear to be strongest…
2018 was, for me, the year when the crisis became status quo. I don’t want to diminish for a moment the scope of the tragedy and suffering afflicting those who live in Venezuela, and those of us who watch from a distance and suffer through our relatives still there. The sense of urgency that I’ve had since 2014–an urgency to do something, because there’s still time, and the next election–mostly disappeared this year. In a way, I suppose I became numb to the situation in the country, and I think that is a terrible and shameful thing.
I think my parents reached this point before I did. I think that everyone, regardless of whether or not they live in a dictatorship, reach a point where the situation around them becomes normal. The baseline. I can sum up the feeling in the phrase “that’s just the way it is”. When I work on the daily updates and read news about breaking stories in Venezuela, I often think “that’s just the way it is”.
“But why did Maduro say that? Why is the army backing him up? Why is oil production falling? Why are they getting so many loans from China? Why doesn’t the opposition do something?” The academic part of me has answers to these questions, but the human part just says “that’s just the way it is”. I think that this is something new for me this year.
On A Different Kind of Personal Note…
2019 is going to be very busy for me.
After three years of preparation, I’m finally starting work on my doctoral dissertation. My research focuses on the policing of protests by non-police: that is, by individuals and groups of people who are not formally part of a state institution. My interest in this topic grew largely through my work on this website, since so many of my daily updates during the protests featured colectivos armados. What I hope to do with my research is complicate our understanding of the protester-state dynamic by showing that the boundary between civilian and police is diffuse.
I’m also happy to announce that I’ve joined Bellingcat as a trainer/investigator for Latin America. I’ll be running workshops in the region teaching journalists about open-source investigation tools and techniques, and working on collaborative projects with them. This means that I’ll be traveling quite a bit in 2019, but as always, I’ll try my best to keep the blog updated daily.
Questions/Comments? E-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org