lunes, 12 de noviembre de 2007

A new sense on normality (written on Monday, Nov 5th)

Today I had a meeting with my tutor for work on a thesis project that will allow me to graduate next year, hopefully. In the middle of our discussion about social theories and which books should I borrow from his library, he got a phone call that kept him busy for over 20 minutes if I’m not mistaken. “I’m sorry for the interruption” – He said – “We are in the middle of a trouble here … do you see that window?” – He asked me pointing at a broken window in one corner of his office – “It was done by some Chavista (Chavez supporters) gang that entered the campus during one of the student demonstrations…
quite a disaster. We are looking forward to buy some bars to increase the security”
On my way out, we took a walk outside the office (located not at my university but at UCV, the Central University of Venezuela) and he offered me a fresh chicha (chicha is a Venezuelan beverage made of milk, rice, sugar.. don’t ask me what else). “Wonder how this chichero finds the milk to keep with his business”- (Chichero means the Chicha maker and seller in Spanish) - I said – “Well, we better don’t ask” – My tutor answered ironically.
Then, while the milk shortage doesn’t seem to stop and students and professors are often surprised by some delinquency “revolutionary style”, my tutor asks me to have this thesis meetings always on Monday morning for now on “because these days, later that week or even that day, you never know what’s going to happen”.
The due date for presenting my thesis project to the faculty is on December so before I left, I asked him if he thinks that I’ll be able to finish what now looks like an impossible work to me. I wouldn’t mind presenting the project next year on another due date but given the current circumstances I’m on the need of graduate as soon as possible. If we don’t know what can happen for one hour to another, imagine just how uncertain my graduation looks – “I’m pretty sure that you can finish this project by December, but I must warn you that this date would probably be postponed because of the referendum on the Constitutional Reform”
I walked hopeless on my way home while I started to be aware of the environment I’m forced to work into. The biggest challenge is not reading all those books and putting all those concepts together; the biggest challenge is to do that while there’s sort of a war going on outside.
As soon as I open my door, I get a cell phone call from my mom asking me to go back home as soon as possible – “I just got here mom, calm down”...
I didn’t knew about it then, but while I was discussing social theory issues with my tutor; huge protest were taking place at a couple of private universities with a subsequent security forces repression that included four or five students detained by the National Guard.
A few hours after I left my tutor, the university where I was holding the meeting joined the protest blocking a street, while a former Chavez defense minister made his statement against the reform and was called “a traitor” by some loyal Chavez supporters including the Vice-president and the president of the National Assembly.
Then, the students from all universities in Caracas (except perhaps the new ones founded by Chavez that I’m not sure if I should call them “universities” since an actual universal thinking doesn’t seem allowed inside those campus) decide to gathered around the place where the National Guard was keeping the students who were detained earlier. And some more protest and riots were reported on other cities. Desperately, I try, as always, to get the most recent news of the events by downloading some popular Venezuelan news websites (related with citizen journalism mostly) and calling some friends who might be at the protest.
My tutor could not be more right: after 10 am in a Sunday morning, Caracas can easily become a chaos scenery not exactly suitable to hold academic meetings or, why am I taking this that far? Not suitable to even try holding a normal life.
About the picture: I took it about three weeks ago. The graffiti says "Campaña juvenil- estudiantil bolivariana por el socialismo" which means "Youth student campaign for socialism". These kinds of graffiti’s are very easy to find in that campus. Some UCV students are tired of just going to class one morning and find their university totally filled with revolutionary messages painted in the walls, damaging the beauty of the campus. The same people who make this are probably the ones who broke the window of my tutor office the night before this entry was written.

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