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Joel Hirst: Brace Yourselves for More Violence in Venezuela

By: Elisa Vásquez - @elisavasquez88 - Jul 11, 2014, 10:45 am
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EspañolJoel Hirst, the author of the novel The Lieutenant of San Porfirio, based on the totalitarianism of Venezuela, spoke with the PanAm Post regarding the last six tumultuous months in the country. He also provided details on his next novel, The Fire of San Porfirio, which continues the story after the death of El Comandante.

The Lieutenant of San Porfirio by Joel Hirst
The Lieutenant of San Porfirio. (GSE)

Within the pages of The Lieutenant, Hirst writes of an explosion of social unrest in Venezuela, much like was witnessed last February — a year after the novel was published. Because of Hirst’s keen ability to foresee this sociopolitical phenomenon, we asked him what he expects to see in Venezuela in the future — a vision he explores in The Fire.

“Unfortunately, it appears more violence is on the way,” laments the author. “[Because it is] a big government that is willing to accept the use of force, the people see this use of force by big government as legitimate. This will come to a head, which will mean more violence. It will not end until the economy completely collapses, which we are witnessing now. This is part of the second book, The Fire of San Porfirio,” said Hirst, whose second novel will be available later this year.

“If The Lieutenant of San Porfirio is the height of the revolution, The Fire is the hangover — the natural process that occurs after a government so large has just collapsed.”

The acceptance of liberty would be the conclusion for this not so fictional society in Hirst’s novel, but in reality, would this be possible for Venezuela?

For Hirst, the ideas of freedom are “very difficult to sell.” He argues that Venezuelans are accustomed to a statist system, rampant corruption, and the zero-sum notion that the rich steal from the poor.

Hirst’s vision would mean a complete transformation for Venezuela, the only South American country where homicide rates have steadily increased since 1995 — the second highest murder rate in the world — and where the government expropriates industries and invades private property with impunity.

“The public will have to accept ideas of freedom once again, and it’s not easy. We will always want to use violence to impose our ideas on one another, but there must come a time when we no longer accept this. We have no right to use violence against other people or their property. This will be the moment that a new civilization will be born [in Venezuela].”

Hirst has hope. “Change will come sooner rather than later because of the economic collapse,” he says. He has faith in the ideas proposed by the Venezuelan opposition leader María Corina Machado, who has introduced “popular capitalism” as a way for the country to find its way out of poverty and become independent of government.

Hirst’s new book has the potential to aid along a better future for Venezuela. If so, one hopes the accuracy he showed with his first book, after living in the country for more than seven years, will repeat with the second.

Translated by Guillermo Jimenez.

Note: Audio interview embedded above is in Spanish.

Elisa Vásquez Elisa Vásquez

Elisa Vásquez is a Venezuelan journalist with experience covering social and community topics. Her specialty is human rights education and international solidarity. She reports from Panama City. Follow her on Twitter @elisavasquez88.