Dictators & the 21st Century

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Between 1952-1958, a man named Marcos Perez Jimenez was dictator of Venezuela, where I was born and lived at the time. He’s the dude in the image above.  I still need to track down this issue of Time and find out why he was worthy of the cover.

Even as a kid, I remember seeing this man with the plump face on what passed as television at the time. I remember wondering who he was and why anyone would bother listening to this very boring person.

I was too young to understand that he sat on one of the largest oil reserves in the world- note all the oil derricks in the background of the cover image.  Creole, the company where my dad worked as an accountant, was a subsidiary of Standard Oil, which  was tapping into that gold. In fairness to Standard Oil, they built the rigs that drilled for that oil and  the infrastructure that made the country uber wealthy for decades. But Standard Oil and companies from other countries were also incredibly invasive.

At one time, there were 8,000 Americans living in Venezuela, many more thousands from other countries who had established oil companies in Venezuela, and all of them had created “camps” (neighborhoods) where the families of their employees lived. They established clinics and hospitals for their employees. They basically took over the country in terms of profits. Back then, I didn’t really understand what that meant. I went to school, I had friends and a wonderful family life, pets, a sister, Christmas, summer vacations. I went to an American school with a cool library.

Our life was good, prosperous, fascinating. We lived in a second floor apartment in the Las Mercedes neighborhood of Caracas that faced the mountains. Directly across the street from us from a river contained by cement walls that was actually more of a sewage ditch. In retrospect, crime under the dictatorship was relatively low. Under Perez Jimenez, the country prospered, the poor who lives in ranchitos – shacks- along the mountainside had enough to eat and some even had TVs and cars.

Now and then, we had days off from school when a revolution was imminent, when the rebellious factions of the military and other facets of the governments threatened to overthrow the Jimenez dictatorship. I remember my mother and I rushing to the auto mercado to buy supplies, not unlike what we I do now when a hurricane is imminent – and finding the shelves bare. What I didn’t realize then was that Jimenez was constantly confronted with opposing factions in the populace and that he, like other dictators throughout history, had secret police who hunted down and imprisoned anyone who opposed his policies.

The revolution didn’t happen until one night in January 1958, when I was nearly eleven. My mother came running into the room I shared with my sister and woke us. “You have to see this,” she said. “The dictator is fleeing the country.”

We leaped out of bed and hurried out to the front porch where my dad was. In the distance, along the autopista- the highway that led through Caracas down 3,000 feet to the port and airport – was a line of cars, headlights burning through the darkness. Jimenez and his entourage were leaving the country with, we later learned, $13 million they’d embezzled from the government.

And the one clear thought I had from that night, as I stood on our porch watching history, was that a way of life was ending for me and my family and it wouldn’t be long before we, too, would be leaving this country. And we did, in 1963, when the Venezuelan government nationalized the oil industry and pretty much kicked out the American companies that had helped build and integrate the lucrative oil industry into the Venezuelan economy.

In the decades since, Venezuela has enjoyed booms and busts. Right now, it’s a crippled country where people are hungry, there’s a scarcity of everything, the valley is horribly polluted, and life is pretty grim.

In a Trump presidency, this same reality may come to pass. The parameters and specifics may be different, but the secret police, the censorship, the greed, could easily unfold. He does share, after all, certain attributes with Hitler. When I put this on Facebook, the vitriol was incredible – and sad.

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But the world now is not the world as it was during WWII and the world of the 1950s and 60s is drastically changed from what the world is today, in the second decade of the twenty-first century. We have nearly instantaneous access to information with videos and photos and hundreds of thousands of apps that capitalize on this. I often wonder if Steve Jobs understood the magnitude of what became possible when Apple issued the iPhone in 2007 and that beautiful phone came with a camera and video capabilities.

The day after the election, Rob and I were running errands and happened to be behind a truck with a trickster message on the back of it:

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No matter where we are, what we’re doing, our phones are powerful tools that enable us to document the small and large moments in our lives. And these moments come through all the social media and record those moments about the tectonic changes happening in the larger world.

Frankly, I don’t think a dictator has a prayer in this 21st century America. But when I look at the people Trump is appointing to his cabinet… I invariably think that Costa Rica looks better by the second. They love Americans. And in case  Paul Ryan makes good on his promise to eradicate Medicare, Medicaid and privatize Social Security, Costa Rica has a universal health care system that works and is inexpensive. And we can write anywhere.

But my hope is that it doesn’t come to that. My hope is that even though the electoral college voted in a man whose platform is about racism, isolationism, hatred of women and anyone else who isn’t a white male, that our more evolved selves will prevail.

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10 Responses to Dictators & the 21st Century

  1. c.j. says:

    Answering your question, “Was it a hack, C.J.”….it was worse. I sat here in my computer chair and watched as the senior technician, (who had remote control of my computer for the two days it took to repair), and as I watched, several thousands of pieces of material scrolled before my eyes. I was horrified, and had to leave it in their hands. They finally called me on the end of the second day and told me it was certifiably “clean”. Before I left the chair, I saw dozens of military and government agency IPs pass in front of my eyes. The tech even asked me about that. My response was that I had no idea. My own question is WHY??????? I am nothing more now than an elderly American woman who, yes, has had a unique life in many of its aspects, some of which I myself have no understanding, (Bird, etc). I DO have two implants….Whitley also has them, and like me, his are not removed or removable….which causes me to naturally wonder if these implants are essentially some sort of tracking devices, for whatever reason. I come from a father who was absolutely a contactee, but more importantly, was an ET himself, one of the best and highest. I don’t speak of this except to a tiny number of people that I know I can trust, such as the MacGregors, but I haven’t posted it on any blogs, not even here. I refuse to give up my computer. It has become my window to the world. To be perfectly candid, I may only assume that some kind of knowledge is hidden somewhere deep within me
    and I am unable to access it. Curiously, the very moment I emailed the Macs about
    TPTB and Trump, the computer didn’t ‘crash’, it just went berserk and became totally inoperable. I think it bears mentioning that yesterday afternoon, I suddenly had the most intolerable pain I have ever suffered, and my pain level tolerance is very high. I was crying in pain,writhing in pain, and I don’t do that. My entire body hurt….I can’t even describe it. Hubby helped me to bed….meds didn’t help,….was awake all nite
    looking at the clock waiting until I could take the next dose of medication, and I am far from being a medication person. As a matter of fact, I am afflicted with MCSD: Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Disorder, so cannot take even OTC meds or vitamins and definitely no narcotics. I take two Parkinson’s meds, and Tylenol. That’s it. Finally at 12:30 noon today, EST, it all vanished and I feel as if it was all a dream. Any observations would be welcome!!

  2. c.j. says:

    Hillary isn’t without fault; some of hers are quite serious. Trump, same thing. I admit I don’t like either of them. Having said this, as we move forward in the new political arena in this country, it is my opinion that, as Spiritual Beings, we are obligated to do the best we can to raise awareness in PEACEFUL adjustment to the new administration. I can only speak for myself, but I refuse to support all the riots and hateful protests and even killings that are going on since the election. Better we should attempt to bury the anger and begin to surround this country with what our Souls expect of us, and that is to empower the energy of hope and tolerance. Our values are being challenged; this is a time of testing for us. We cannot make passing grades on these tests by allowing ourselves to be caught up in the chaos of violence. That isn’t who we are……

  3. DJan says:

    I watched John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” last show of 2016 and my eyes were opened to what some people must have believed was true about Hillary. Just some of the worst smears and slander in the guise of “news.” I’m incredibly scared about the future, and I really mean it when I say I’m glad I’m old: I won’t see the worst of it. Or maybe I will: maybe it will all happen quickly. 🙁

    • Rob and Trish says:

      Rob said something to that effect this evening. We need to focus on what works, that’s what I’m realizing. Easier said than done!

  4. blah says:

    Yup Oil company accountant in a foreign land… Know that story!

  5. c.j. says:

    A quick remark, which may disappear….my computer has been “visited” dozens and dozens of times over the recent years by gov’t and military factions. I sent an email to Trish and Rob over the weekend and immediately, my entire computer crashed. This is a new computer and has a good warranty. The issue, however, wasn’t the computer itself but instead ‘something else’. Cost more that $300 to repair, money I could ill afford without robbing Peter to pay Paul, as the old saying goes, and took two full days, but that was less expensive than purchasing a new computer, especially considering that the problems were NOT the computer. I deeply resent being observed and whoever you are, if you are reading this, do not pass GO, do not collect $200, just GO STRAIGHT TO HELL! (Sorry, Guys, just HAD to do that!)

  6. lauren raine says:

    Good article. I just posted a long comment, and it just disappeared when I tried to post……..

  7. lauren raine says:

    What I find so difficult is having to see that America is a deeply divided country. Electoral college aside, a great many Americans voted for Trump and put a Republican Congress in power. It means that a vast number of Americans don’t care about what Trump says about women, race, don’t care about the environment, don’t care that we have a figurehead who can talk about “hanging up his opponent”, don’t care that for the first time all the rules and values have been broken. Don’t care that even Republican presidents BUsh, and leaders like John McCain, refused to endorse Trump.

    And are unable to see the impoverishment all of this will bring, the scapegoating that will be used to divert the public into hate when life becomes so much harder from the loss of medicare and affordable health care, from the reduction of social security (another thing Trump promised that no one seemed to hear), the loss of Planned Parenthood and health benefits for women, the selling off of national park land to special interests, the increasing loss of tax revenue from the very wealthy as they all follow Trump’s lead in gutting the country, the loss of the Department of Education (yes, they promised to get rid of that too) and the worsening of the educational system……….how is it possible, if nothing else, Americans are unable to see how impoverished this will make us all?

    And we will see increasing repression of people and media, and polarization of the population as people turn to blame, and Trump and others rhetoric, instead of being able to deal with the real problems. Permission to hate and hit has been given. Already we’re seeing all kinds of acting out and hate crimes. What happened in Germany……there are parallels. I fear the “normalization” of what is not “normal”. This is not like any election before it – this has destabilized our country.

    I took off my bumper stickers yesterday, just because, to be honest, I’m afraid of finding my tires slashed, and on a social security income, I can’t afford it. What has