Am I afraid? No, not for myself. Except for the normal considerations one must take due to the increased violence. Always checking over your shoulder, not going out much after dark, not carrying much cash, looking around before you get out of the car, that kind of stuff. What I mostly feel is sadness for the Venezuelans themselves. Mainly for the Chavez supporters who are living in ignorance to the longterm consequences of the politics of Chavez.
Last week, during the marriage workshop, we heard several shots right behind the church. The guys outside guarding the cars came in and began locking the doors. We all continued on and after an hour or so left. We found out they had shot and killed a man behind the church. We have had shootings in the church parking lot, and dead people laying around the corner. But that is the regular violence of a barrio.
I am especially concerned for the younger generation, after only 8 years, they already are brainwashed! My daughters friends from church are so ignorant to the truth. They really think we shoot all Mexicans that cross the border, they think we have massive amounts of poor freezing to death if it weren't for Citgos cheap oil, they think Jesus is a communist, and El Che is a hero. Fidel is next to God himself and George Bush is the devil. The hard part is that one can no longer even question them, if they go back to school and say, a gringo told me....
We can still preach and teach the gospel and people are getting saved, the problem is that the culture is very humanistic and they have a secular/sacred dichotomy. They are not even aware of the inconsistencies. BUT, the other day when my husband spoke on the role of the wife in the marriage, one lady, riding home with us afterwards, mentioned that at her consejo communal (community counsel), they were telling the women their role in the family and it was not the biblical role. She realized that the government is getting involved even in the home.
We have had a few "rude" things done to us. Only in the last few years have I ever felt prejudiced against in Venezuela. We had," Oligarcas " painted on our house in Ciudad Bolivar. We have had a couple of hate emails. We have had insulting things said to us on the streets. Just last week at the Bank , two guys called Clint the son of the devil, in reference to Chavez calling Bush the Devil. It is never from people we know though.
Last week the Mision Energetica came to our door, they wanted to change all our light bulbs, free of charge! Chavez is giving everyone free fluorescent bulbs. They come in and change all your bulbs and they write down how many rooms you have, how many bathrooms , etc. My husband lost it! He said , "I don't want even light bulbs from Chavez!" After losing our home and all our things, like generators and solar panels, tractors etc...the thought of accepting a light bulb was repulsive!
I do think we are more sensitive than most North Americans, due to the things that happened last year in the jungle. We don't trust the government. They have been back to the village to make sure we weren't there and had not returned. They even had a file with photos of us and the children. So I know, "big brother" is watching.
BUT, My Heavenly Father is also watching and will keep us safe. In that I rest secured. I do know that even under Castro, missionaries continued their work for several years. Under Ortega in Nicaragua, the first time, some missionaries were able to stay. As long as they never mentioned the government in any way. So I think some missionaries will remain here for awhile yet. The government is slowly taking more and more power. Nationalizing the phones, which also controls 85% of the internet servers, electricity, and slowly , most of the food supply chain. Here is a photo of the new sytem of marking people who buy meat or chicken at the government stores in Ciudad Bolivar, and many other places. You can not buy more until the ink wears off!
I do feel, but this is only my opinion, that the church will have to be put under some kind of control. There are already areas where this is starting to happen. Everything is in the initial stages at this point. I do not think Chavez will tolerate any allegiance to anyone other than himself, not even God.
So...thats just my thoughts. No authority at all, other than observation and 20 years experience here.