“Sometimes” – I told a friend the other day – “The government and the left intellectuality just want me to disappear”. What else if I have no right to speak and even less right to access the government programs? What else if I’m guilty as charged from the day I was born from all the bad things that this country has? Maybe it is a “middle class paranoia” but I strongly believe the government wants to systematically suppress the ones who are against him or that he believes they are against him.
Mr. Chavez wants to suppress the high educated middle class and the traditional or not so traditional politicians on any way he can. He has already succeed in suppress them politically and slowly, he’s already starting to use some other ways to make us disappear. Is just a matter of time for me, without any intention of being alarmist, I think it’s time to openly say it.
I have not written about this very controversial issue to victimize myself. I’m obviously making a serious pronouncement of discrimination, won’t ever hide it, this was my clear intention. But by making this pronouncement I’m not making the suggestion that the poor are well threatened and the rich are discriminated by this government. The world is not a video game, things are not that easy.
The thing is that this discrimination practice goes beyond class and race to politics and its politics indeed the basis of all the discrimination itself. In other words, the discrimination starts when you have made clear your stance of not being a Chavez supporter. From there, the government makes the story about class and race to paint the types of their supporters and the enemies (if you are against him you are an enemy).
This means, if you support Chavez it must be because you are certainly poor and tired of the oblivion on which the governments before Chavez left you or, you are not poor but you have a clear sense of what the elites have done to this country and you want to make justice by considering the “Venezuelan people” (means, the poor people) in a fair way. But if you don’t support Chavez it must be because you are an upper class person, very used to the oppression and oblivion and you don’t want to see the poor people more wealthier and more educated because they could become a threat to the power you hold, or maybe you are poor, but too blind to see the reality and used to be in the service of upper classes. Those upper classes who, at the same time, are in service of the imperialism and oh, specially, the CIA. Never forget the CIA.
From there it is a piece of cake to jump to a simple conclusion: the ones who support Chávez are good people and the ones who don’t support Chavez, are, well, like Darth Devil: bad rich selfish antipatriotic (no wonder why my URL address is called “antipatriotic Venezuelan” by the way) people. And that’s the beginning of a terrific machine displayed by the government to build hate between Venezuelans besides the inexact (and therefore dangerous) pictures of the Venezuelan society.
This model has also made an influence on some Chavez opponents who now consider that the “people of Venezuela” are only the poor who support the president and you hear more often than not, and this students movement has not been the exception “we must convince the people, they are the ones who support Chavez, we must look at them when we protest”- Referring, always, to the people, as the poor ones.
And when I ask them if they are not part of “the people” as well, they move their shoulders and tell me back things like “we are not of the majority”. From there to me getting absolutely mad and start quoting political theory authors and democracy models screaming “the people are everybody! From the upper rich to the most poor at all and everybody should be considered as citizens!” there’s only one tiny step that I never learn, and more often than not, I cross.
Of course, Chavez has not built this model from scratch. We do have a history of inequality, of many areas never considered for social programs. Of elites too busy with themselves living a life of ignorance about the not so lucky people who surround them. People who has called the poor “marginales” (same as in English, “marginal”) and who have seriously considered to just bring down all poor slums of the big cities like Caracas and move the people who live there to empty counties inside Venezuela. In one word: people who has consider as a solution to poverty to just get rid off the poor people and take them somewhere else. And there are people, from middle and upper classes who are still very ignorant about other ways of living, much less wealthier than the one they have.
So when Chavez built the model and made denounces about class oppression is not something just made up. But from making the pronouncements to promote a hate filled environment with revenge as an idea that pushes aside anyone who could look like it comes from an upper class, including obviously these students from the movement, it’s a big distance. If Chavez has any contribution that has been to make others turn their heads to the badly treated poverty issue; and if Chavez has done something absolutely terrible to this country that will take us years to recover, that has being to build hate from a reality.
A left pro-government foreign professor told me once “The poor ones finally have a voice of their own, and after all the things they have going through, Do you expect them to sing to you about love?” First of all, I don’t think this is a “Who came first, the eggs or the chicken?” question. Everyone, from the government till the opposition believe they got by some magic gift, the “voice of the poor” and they are ready to speak it out. Everyone, seems to know exactly what they want and what they need. To make simplifications of both groups, to look at the poor as good and oppressed people and at the rich as bad people only built hate, but never a country. It only built a black white vision of good and evil instead of a reality. It forgets that no matter where you look at it, we all are humans and the people’s personality; good or bad, criminal or hard worker is not an exclusive direct relation with the class condition.
Reading a book the other day, I found the sentence: “With violence you can destroy and clear up the place, nothing else” (a quote from AI Herzen). I would add that the same works with hate (and as the matter of fact, where does violence finds their origins?). There most be obviously some social resentment from many sides across Venezuela, mistakes of the past we are now obligated to carry on.
But when we ran into an unfair situation such as the poverty; instead of asking ourselves: “Which ones are guilty of this?” and make a list of people and groups to blame; why we don’t change the question to: “What can we do to fix it?” and make a list of people and groups ready to contribute to the construction of a different country. What if we learn of the mistakes from the past without making new mistakes? Because according to some (although I’m not exactly sure) Venezuelan used to be governed only for the rich and now seems to be only an intention to govern for the poor. No matter which one is the group affected, it is still a government for some and not for everybody.
I personally don’t like revolutions. I like changes, I like new things, but I have a strong suspicion when the speeches of “big changes, everything new” arrives because they definitely means that, before making those new things, one has to get rid off the old things first no matter if they are good or bad (what was I thinking? They are all bad because they are old). Among those “old bad” things you can destroy from good social programs that only needed a stronger support from people who labeled as responsible of the old things. At the end you just destroy everything and have a dozen times more work and if you combine it with a massive campaign of “hate all the old things” you have build the land for a war and this means a million times more work, a work that you don’t know if you can ever finish it.
Venezuela it is a country where poverty, life conditions and inequality must be definitely considered. But that work can’t be done with a political hate and a class prejudice in the middle. It can’t be done in an atmosphere of exclusion and disrespect, in a place where one of the political actors involved only wants the opposed to disappear. It can't be done if people from all sides of the political spectrum think that the people are only the poor who support the government and that a government must be done only over the ones who are part of the majority.
One day, about a year ago, I was in a hurry to attending a job interview unusually well dressed (with high heels and everything) when a very heavy rain surprised me out of nowhere just a few blocks away from home.
The only place to refugee was a small roof, part of the entrance of a very high class house. Three humble workers shared the refugee with me for about ten minutes. We all give suspicious looks to each other and I felt a little bit awkward because beyond the ideals I had found myself in an unexpected and awkward situation. While I was there, waiting for the rain to pass, I started thinking that there was nothing more democratic than the rain that when it falls it just falls for everybody no matter if you are a humble worker or an upper class girl with high heels. And even more, it can make the hard encounter on other circumstances of humble workers and rich girls.
When the rain stopped, each one of us continued on their way. The workers back to the construction they were working at just near by and me, back to my job interview without even saying a word to them. The way we build our roof to protect ourselves from the rain makes all the differences. I’m not referring here to some socialist utopia of the origins of the private property although that metaphor could logically fit here. I’m talking about the things (good or bad) that are common for everyone and the ways we push ourselves away from those things. And the hate, suppression and revenging desire is just one of the many ways of doing that.
The way we ignore or suppress the ways others have managed to protect themselves from the rain is just one of the many ways of doing that. And the only guilty of the rain is perhaps, that it's nature. We need to stop finding guilty as charged and pointing with our fingers to who ever doesn't think like us. We need to stop looking at the colors other people wears with suspicion and start looking through their eyes more often.
PS: The picture was taken 7 months after this entry was originally published. Is a graffiti I found against the rich people “hang in there” it says, like a warning. I thought it was more than suitable for re-ilustrate this entry.