Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My three encounters with Venezuelan officialdom

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I never wrote about the first two. let me sum up ;

First was passing through customs at the airport. I arrived on a flight from Miami that was loaded with Well to do Venezuelans and their newest acquisitions. By the time I got onto the plane there wasw no room overhead and I had to stock my carry on knapsack under the seat in front of me. Economy is tight enough but I have arthritis in my knees made worse by my all night taxi driving  in a prius made extra tight for the safety partition.

So I was wobbling through the airpot (I could have taken a wheel chair ride but that just hurts my pride too much,) By the time I got to customs it was pretty chaotic (to me anyway) and my luggage arrived nearly last to boot, So there I was asking the air ¨¿ Que tengo que hacer?¨¨ (I can´t work this keyboard as well as I should.) People were very helpful, I got through okay and my wife and one of her sons who I never met before, a young man and a taxi driver as a matter of fact) met up with me and we were on our way.

Second encounter wasn´t so nice, and I hesitate to say much about it, only to point out that it is widely acknowledged in Venezuela that there is unprofessionalism and corruption among some of the police. Now, Venezuela had a revolution or began a revolutionary process around 13 years ago or so, and they do have this lingering problem from the old daysand  old ways. In comparison my country started a revolutionary process in 1776 and it is overrun with thuggish cops who apparebtly are selected and trained to be just what they are, so I am not going to complain too loudly as it would be unbecoming. The president of Venezuela acknowledges the problem and I believe even signed a new law meant to combat this very problem.

Now, the  third encounter was the charm. I have this dream of being bicontinental, of spending half the time in New York working the taxi biz and seeing my children and grandchildren too. The other half is to be spent here in Venezuela, which I find to be a lovely country witn nice people for the most part. Being a long time spouse aof a Venezuelan citizen I actually have the right under Venezuelan law to becomea resident or even a citizen if I wished to do so.  I wish to be a lawful resident so that I could work lawfully helping my wife and her family with various entreperneurial efforts and also perhaps giving English lessons.    I  did a pretty good job teaching English in one of the taxi driver training academies and I think I still could do pretty okay.

So yesterday we went down to the government office thqt deals with foriegners in San Cristobal. United States citizens wouldn't be able to imagine this kind of indoor outdoor set up.  We ping ponged between windows and finally were direct to ¨the kiosk.¨It took a while to realize that I was to pick up official documents at a candy stand where they also sell coffee. I wonder whether the government gig was the sideline or the candy and coffee selling was but there it was.

What makes this whole thing ridiculous is that I came to Venezuela without my birth certificate, and so I can´t become a resident on this trip. The place reminded me a bit of the chaos that used to reign in New York motor vehicle offices. and the Taxi limousine office which under Koch was chaotic and staffed by nasty insolent sarcastic people. I have to say though that the staff in this Venezuelan Government office were not nasty or rude though some of the people they were trying to serve were.