Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

I wanted to title this post Sabotaging the Venezuelan Government, but rather absurdly, that type of tongue-in-cheek title would probably prompt the Venezuelan government to empty all Americans from their country.  So, we'll stick with Fifteen Minutes of Fame.

Here's a fun little exercise.  Google Dave.  Use his first and last name - which I am not typing here, because I don't want this blog to come up when you google him.  Amusingly, there is a rather famous man with the same name.  Googling Dave, even within his 15 minutes of fame, does not bring up our Dave for quite a while.

So, google Dave with his first and last name, and add "Venezuela" to your search criteria.  Now you've found all of the articles that have been posted over the two weeks about our situation.  We landed in every major newspaper around the world - The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Time magazine.  We had friends Facebooking us that night, as they heard Dave's name in a story on the BBC.

Here's our side of the story.

Venezuela and the United States have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010.  According to diplomatic protocol, in the absence of an ambassador, a chargĂ© d'affairs run the embassy.   Dave had the honor to act as the control officer for the chargĂ© for a short trip to Bolivar state.  They went along with a small crew of people.  As I understand it, the control officer is the person responsible for all of the logistics of the trip.  He spent hours putting this trip together before they left, and he took notes and handled phone calls on the trip.  He arrived back home on Friday night, and we all breathed a sigh of relief because we would finally get our regular lives back.

Apparently, they were being followed while they were in Bolivar State.  Agents of the government videotaped them leaving from a meeting with community groups, and posted it as proof that our little team of Americans was plotting to sabotage the Venezuelan government by breaking down the electrical grid.  You've got to see this.  The Star Wars style rolling text and the dramatic music from Requiem for a Dream are supposed to be proof positive that these Americans were doing something shady.

On Monday, President Maduro gave a televised speech announcing these fowl accusations, naming our three diplomats by name, giving each of us 48 hours to leave the country, and then shouting in English, Yankee, go home!

Our personal whirlwind began soon after that, and I'll leave that for another story.  The public story still had some unfolding to do as well.  The United States stood firmly behind our three diplomats, and brought us home in glory.  Dave had meetings and photo ops and handshakes from a number of higher-ups within the State Department, and many offers for help.  In a standard diplomatic tit-for-tat measure, the United States expelled three diplomats back to Venezuela.  These are the families I feel sorry for - its one thing to uproot your life and your family on short notice.  But at least we uprooted to the land of Target and Starbucks and have-a-new-cell-phone-set-up-within-20-minutes.  Much worse to be sent to Venezuela with only 48 hours notice.

And that about ends the public story.  Our personal story is much more amusing, and much more of a whirlwind and a roller coaster.  But my kids are bouncing off the walls of this little hotel this morning, and I've promised them a walk on the National Mall.  So you'll just have to wait for the next installment.

1 comment:

JenHahn said...

Freaks me out that they were followed. But OBVIOUSLY that was a brown paper bag of cash in her hand. I'm surprised they did not photoshop a dollar sign onto the bag to help clear up any confusion. Praying for Dave's next post and can't wait to hear your personal story.