lunes, 17 de septiembre de 2007

(Part III) So what?

But my next encounter with a pro-Chavez student has been completely different than this “coin attack” experience: Without expecting it, I just recently got one of those rare chances of testing my tolerance when a professor offered me a scholarship for taking a course about governance and political management.In this course there are students of all ages, all political tendencies (its rare for me to find myself in a class with a real variety of political tendencies) and very different backgrounds although the most seem to be related with the public or/and the community sphere (not my case, but this is not the place to talk about my main academic interest). Among those students there’s a girl who is my age, more or less, and goes to one of the universities recently created by the government.
She passionate supports the regime and class by class, I’ve been understanding why. In part it is because her environment: she is surrounded by pro- government teachers, pro- government classmates while I’m surrounded just by the opposite. But mostly, her government supportive attitude has been the one made by her youth illusions. She’s really looking forward to do something about things that are wrong (mostly things related with basic living conditions); but she doesn’t seems to go farther than that, until reach to the political way under those conditions are given or not. She has no questions about it what’s so ever. She’s a lucky girl, because in her world, everything is working exactly as it should – and if its not- it’s only a matter of time combined with the suppression of obstacles (that they are always outside the system) for things to work exactly as they should.
In class we mostly discuss about how to make a social program and for make the story short, all sides of the political spectrum are agree that when someone is sick, it needs to heal. The ways we think are the best ones for reaching that goal its what makes us different. So probably for that, I quickly forgot her political position and we got along pretty well, while others outside my class couldn’t even understand how.
However the comments in the class two days ago made our differences way more obvious, mainly because this time the professor was criticizing the government in a very rough way. So every time she raised her hand in class, her speeches ended using a word or an expression that you could easily find on any government speech. Never saw her doing that before in the four months I’ve been attending to this course and its just amazing how she do it, and how natural it looks in her… just like the way doctors manage those complicated medical terms. “The people this”, “the people that”, “the people organized”, “we are building a new process”…
The intervention that impressed me the most was one related with the mechanism of social participation – like the community councils (in Spanish “Consejos comunales” – I don’t know if I’m translating it right). We were talking about the advantages and the disadvantages of that system and the general opinion was that things weren’t working exactly as they should.
Then she raises her hand and says that since we have established how difficult it is to build the “participate democracy” created in the speech, to the practice; we needed to understand difficult tasks takes time; specially since “we don’t know exactly what are we building, but we know its something different and great”; so we need to wait to see the long term results and learn from the pass mistakes of this “beautiful” process.
So the revolutionaries argue to be in the process of building something new, none of them know exactly what it is, but is supposed (more likely, they are certainly sure about it) to be different, and therefore, good. Is the promise- empty by definition- of an amazing life in the future. Of course, everybody knows how hard is to build something, even harder when you don’t know exactly what are you building. Hard things, by definition, requires more time than simple things.
So, since the revolutionaries are doing something hard, they need more time and they ask for it. How much? That’s imposible to know if they don’t even know what they are building. So they need to confirm and reconfirm the project (or more likely the illusion of a project) over and over again. And since it seems unlikely to have Chavismo without Chavez (for some reason it is called chavismo), thanks to my classmate I finally understood why the revolutionaries are not bothered about the reelection and consider it even a secondary issue.
Their discussions are no focused on the consequences for a democratic system - and not because they are no democrats - but because they are almost standing almost over nothing, building a new system.And in front of this new system, everything else, like I said, its secondary.
Immediately I decided to not bring up the topic of the Constitutional Reform on a conversation with her. I once thought that everyone in their sane judge would not be agree about given a president the possibility of ruling for life. I was mistaken. My sane judge, no matter how hard it is for me to admit it, it’s not the only sane judge out there. I think the professor noticed how I looked down to my desk and started playing nervously with my ring passing through my fingers.
At lunch break several classmates engaged in a discussion about previous student movements in Venezuela (since the topic of the day was social participation, the recent phenomenon of the students protest was brought up over and over again). She confessed that she was about falling sleep during the hours the professor spend talking about Venezuelan recent history related with social participation.
“All I know its Chavez, and the revolution; and I’m a revolutionary” – She said, smiling. Then I answered back, trying to keep the most calm tone: “I do know something different than Chavez, I do have reference of a country before Chavez” – I also thought of bring up the couple of coups attempts leaded, at least the first one, by Chavez back in 1992 when this girl and I were just kids. But that would have mean to touch a sensitive place which could put an end to the peaceful atmosphere of the class. Since the rest of the classmate that were sitting on the same table are over than 30, I didn’t want them to think that every Venezuelan in their 20’s only know about one possible world: the revolutionary one.
To see her eyes shinning while she was talking about the months she spend on Cuba and about how beautiful the participation mechanism promoted by the government looks; made me think that there is another country out there, supposedly mine but yet it presents to me like a foreign land.
I used to think of Venezuela as a coin, with two sides impossible to get together again. But goes farther than that: it’s like two parallel universes having lunch together in an unknown table, and the food taste the same to all, but still whatever is separating us, it’s so strong that cannot be described in words. Its a sea of confusion where all it remains its the resignation locking yourself inside your own sphere; while life goes on out there in a way that makes you reach to the famous childhood conclusion that you must be definitely an alien. A bad alien even. And there is nothing you can do to change it.
Anyway, a few hours later, the night was starting to welcome us still at the same class and when we heard some thunders announcing a heavy rain (and as a result, the terrible expectation of loads of traffic on our ways back home), we all started to feel kind of desperate to put an end to that class. So she gave me this look of “When is this professor going to shut up?”, smiling and I smiled back, thinking: “A lo mejor tu eres una revolucionaria, y a lo mejor yo no lo soy; ¿Y eso qué?” (in English, roughly translated: “Maybe you are a revolutionary, maybe I’m not – well I’m certainly not! – and so what?”.
While my friends still can’t get why I’m able to share a class with people who work for the government, I have reached to the conclusion that it’s harder to live in a world divided between friends and enemies than in a world divided between just people. But to reach to that conclusion, to go from hitting a car’s window to the “So what?” is an assignment as big as mountain that I had not climbed completely yet. I still don’t know if is possible to go farther that smiling look. I gave her my instant messenger address but she never added me – or maybe she doesn’t use it. And what’s going to happen when new riots and strong crisis meet us again? What look would she give me the day after the reform elections if for some amazing surprise Chavez loses? What look would I give her back if the reform becomes a reality?
I don’t know, I want to pursue the illusion that after years of hate, we can met in the same classroom as equals, as we did a couple of days ago. And if it happens, it will be a lot easier to live here.

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