One of the most bizarre features of my time here in Venezuela is the incredibly hypocritical way the redneck Americans who are here with me react to their foreign surroundings. They can't stop praising almost everything about Venezuela, yet they also condemn almost everything about Venezuela.
Huh?? "Splain, Lucy """
It's a given that all the rednecks consider Chavez to be a dictator. They can spout verbatim the entire Fox News storyline on Chavez and his horrible government. They have absolutely nothing good to say about him, about Socialism in general, and about how he is the epitome of all things evil.
But when they get sick and go to the free clinic just across the street from the main office, they are delighted that they are attended to immediately and at no charge. They grin from ear to ear when they go to the local pharmacy store and walk right up to the counter, order their medicine, and pay pennies on the dollar for it. They sing praises to the high heavens that they don't need to schedule an appointment to see a doctor, and pay for it, then get the prescription, THEN go to the pharmacy and wait up to a day or two to get their medicine.
But Chavez is never, ever mentioned in all this glee. No one bothers to state that it's because of socialized medicine that they are so well taken care of in such a "backward" country. It would be unconscionable for any redneck to actually equate their great medical attention to the current government of the country. That's forbidden.
The rednecks are quick to complain about the violence. "It's all Chavez's fault," they readily say.
"I always take my knife with me, wherever I go," Cajun states. "They ain't taking my money from me without a fight "". unless there's more than three of them. Then I have to accept I'm gonna get the crap beat out of me."
Cajun's a good ol' boy from Louisiana. He knows all about being taken hostage, having been one twice in Nigeria. He didn't have a problem with it since the Nigerians allowed him to drink and eat as he pleased. The oil company he was working for always promptly paid the ransom demand to free him and the others and he readily admits that the perks there are so great that he'd love to do another oil rig there.
But this is Venezuela, not Nigeria. And the inordinate amount of violence is preached everywhere here, especially on the American channels that are so popular here, like Fox and CNN. Yep, guess what, all Venezuelans get to watch as much American propaganda TV as they want, thanks to Chavez's supposed "lack of free speech." Just one more thing the rednecks quickly discuss until they mention what they saw the night before on CNN or Fox. Then, it's as if they were in another country watching the show and magically returned to Venezuela once the show was over.
Cajun's never been attacked. Nor has any of the other rednecks. In fact, when you ask them individually, they admit that the level of violence appears to be less than their home town of Tulsa, or Houston, or Atlanta, or elsewhere. But of course, that's got to be because of all the minorities back home, not Chavez in Venezuela.
Now don't get me wrong, the city here has its share of violence. Like I've mentioned earlier, I read the newspaper daily. There seems to be some malfeasance going on in surrounding communities everyday. That's not a good sign. That's also one of the reasons I'd like to see a few more cop cars on the streets. I guess old habits die hard.
But compared to the US, things are extremely calm. I never hear police, fire or ambulance sirens during the evening. In fact, I haven't a clue what they sound like. Well, I did hear a police siren the other day and it sounded extraterrestrial to be honest. Apparently, the police were hungry for a Big Mac and didn't want to wait their turn to park.
Another area that cracks me up to no end is in the language arena. Apparently, all the rednecks think that some language program called Rosetta Stone will instantly transform them into bilinguals. They seem to be both amazed and depressed at the fact that Venezuelans speak a language other than English and that not every single Venezuelan is fluent in American Southern English.