The Enduring Triple Jump

Venezuelan athlete Yulimar Rojas is one of those rare exceptions who lifts us and our country every time she performs.

If someone had told us a few years ago that the United States would become the world’s leading oil producer, we probably wouldn’t have believed it.

In fact, that’s just what happened. Early in his first term, Barack Obama asserted that his country would become energy self-sufficient. It was not unexpected, but it was a planned, long-term strategy in search of a continuous, forceful and lasting policy, though it was not ecological.

Fracking has been well known for several years. Hydraulic fracturing is an extraction technique which uses elevated water pressure to fracture the rock in order to efficiently extract everything within it; to “scrape the platter clean.”

Although highly questionable because of its environmental impact, this technique has enabled an increase in oil production and gas self-sufficiency for countries such as the United States.

In fact, this week, after years of implementation, the United States became the largest oil producer in the world, producing more than 14 million barrels per day. That is quite an impressive figure.

Concurrently, there is news from Saudi Arabia, where drones have destroyed that country’s main refinery, reducing daily production by about 5.7 million barrels.

Meanwhile, in Venezuela, without drones or war, we have singlehandedly been destroying our industry, which produced about 3 million barrels a day in 2013, shifting to about 700,000 today; 77% less after six years, according to official OPEC figures, which cannot be manipulated or censored.

Oil is a strategic and political weapon. The United States knows it, and that is why it has been dedicated both to its purchase (it has a strategic reserve of 640 million barrels) and to improvement of the extraction process. The United States does not forget how very sensitive the resource can be, remembering well the Yom Kippur War, in which the OPEC Arab countries carried out an oil embargo on Western countries that supported Israel. The result was the well-known energy crisis of 1973, with its lesson that oil served as a political weapon par excellence.

OPEC has managed prices and production to safeguard its interests. That’s logical; all countries do the same with their strategic resources. Therefore, the U.S. desire to be energy independent was a necessity, rather than a whim. And, although it still depends on foreign production, the trajectory of its independence as an oil producer well advanced.

We, on the other hand, remain immersed in primitive, uninspired discourse. The largest reserves in the world are of no use if they are underground and we cannot extract them. Wealth ceases to be wealth if resources are not transformed with technology. And the world turns and moves forward, while we know only how to go backward.

It is troubling that our country has been winning the race for retreat for years. It is difficult to find ourselves topping the list in any negative ranking, without any apparent signs of impending improvement.

Yulimar Rojas, Venezuelan athlete, is one of those rare exceptions who lifts us and our country every time she performs. The most recent performance took place in Lima, Peru, at the Pan American games this year. There she crowned us with gold in her specialty: the triple jump.

A few years ago, during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, I wrote about the same athlete after she won the silver medal. At the time, I felt the attention we gave to the sport was unjustified, while we had a crisis that I thought could not get worse. Today, I think differently, and I’m glad we have Yulimar giving us gold.

Back then, I concluded that although we had not won the gold, our situation put us “first in these Olympic games; at least when it comes to a backwards triple jump.” And I haven’t changed my mind.

About this publication

About Patricia Simoni 68 Articles
I first edited and translated for Watching America from 2009 through 2011, recently returning and rediscovering the pleasure of working with dedicated translators and editors. Latin America is of special interest to me. In the mid-60’s, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile, and later lived for three years in Mexico, in the states of Oaxaca and Michoacán and in Mexico City. During those years, my work included interviewing in anthropology research, teaching at a bilingual school in the federal district, and conducting workshops in home nursing care for disadvantaged inner city women. I earned a BS degree from Wagner College, masters and doctoral degrees from WVU, and was a faculty member of the WVU School of Nursing for 27 years. In that position, I coordinated a two-year federal grant (FIPSE) at WVU for an exchange of nursing students with the University of Guanajuato, Mexico. Presently a retiree, I live in Morgantown, West Virginia, where I enjoy traditional Appalachian fiddling with friends. Working toward the mission of WA, to help those in the U.S. see ourselves as others see us, gives me a sense of purpose.

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