miércoles, 27 de agosto de 2008

Dear reader

I think I’m currently writing you a good-bye letter. I have made the decision of closing this blog, for good, in two weeks from now. I have several reasons to do this, some of them can be explained, some others can’t but I feel obligated to start explaining somewhere.
It seems like at the moment I have nothing else to tell about the things I should tell on my blog in the way I should speak on this blog, that I haven’t done already; and many of the recent events that should be affecting me personally in the way they did in the past; do not seem to have that effect in me anymore. Please, dear reader, do not be fooled: I’m not talking about some Stockholm syndrome. My political views remain the same: I don’t think I’ll ever be a Revolution supporter for as long as a political government pretends to use such a title, for as long as the government doesn’t change its radical views based on ancient hate to the higher class and the old political elite (it doesn’t matter if that hate is justified or not). And I haven't receive any threat from the government or anyone else. I’m just out of words now.
I’m a little bit tired. I’ve spend almost the half of my short life reading the news and worried and concerned about the changes and crisis my country has lived since 1998. I think I could use a small and irresponsible break, to put some thoughts in order.
People often ask me if my country has a “solution” and what does that solution should be. It’s hard for me to even find a starting point on this matter and I feel that I need a lot of more preparation and life experience to give a proper answer. From where I see it, a country is so much more than a “trouble” that requires a “solution”, it’s a mixture of needs and ways of living that they might need to stop or to find a way to keep surviving. A country is not some “cause” you fight for, like you were in a struggle for the rights of the whales; a country is a home and no home should be asking you to give your life for it, gives the same if its for the revolution or for fighting against.
I won’t fall in that old poetic and openly accepted game. I like my country but it does not defines me. It is true that many times as you had read, I put my life in a serious danger. I’m not sure if I put my life in danger for the right reasons in the right way. I’m even less sure if I’m going to do that again.
I will be finally getting my degree any moment now and from there, not just Venezuela but my personal life will change even more than what it has already changed now. I’m in the process of making huge career and personal decisions. Perhaps after all I won’t be as much into politics as I thought I would be. Do not be fooled again, I do like politics and I do not see it as something “bad”. I’m just not sure if this is truly my thing.
Half of my friends, now that they have stopped being a part of the student movement, started working in politics without losing the connections with the movement. The other half is slowly building another way to live, a way on which the politics and the news are not the main thing. The first half are the ones I always called in an inside joke “the leaders”. But I’m not a leader. I’m trying to be a thinker and in that way I might end up belonging to some border line between my two half of friends, I’ll be like the cheese of a big Venezuelan youth sandwich but that’s nothing new for me. Who knows.
And I’m not alone. There’s a small list of people that for me are important enough to make them part of those kinds of decisions; and that I love them way too much to put them on a risk.
I do not regret of opening this blog and writing my political related experiences in it. Quite the opposite: I earned more knowledge, almost (no yet) a whole new language called English and valuable readers and friends.
So, to who ever might be reading this, and has read this page in the past, specially to Kate, Matt, Jungle- Mom, Feathers, John, Miguel O, Eric, Liz and many others: thanks. Thanks for reading me as always, thanks for trying to understand what my words were trying to tell you. If I come back to the blogosphere, you’ll be the first to know but that will be for making an entire different project.
Many things, sooner or later come to an end. Some blogs are bound to come to an end as well. This blog did what it had to do and I’m glad. All the things I wrote on this blog are carefully saved for future publications if I feel like it. The end of Venezuela as I know it will be permanently erased on September 10th, two weeks from now. Leave me a comment if you have any questions, critics or complaints. Good bye.


miércoles, 20 de agosto de 2008

Based on a true story*

*Names and details have been changed.
About the pic: The same tank when it didn't belong to the government (picture on top, the slogan means: "Together we build a better future") and now that it does (the new slogan means, "Fatherland, socialism or death" with the red logo of the state oil company PDVSA)
Meet Carlos, he’s an average guy who lives in a middle class area in Caracas. Yesterday, he was at his sister’s wedding in a big and a fancy salon of Caracas. Everything was perfect: the bride looked beautiful and the place was filled with exotic flowers. Shrank, expensive cheese and tequeños were served while the orchestra played more merengue than what Carlos’ feet could take. There was a significant scarce of bright red dresses; the women who dared to wear it were forced to make the polite comment, more than once, that “Chavez can't take the red away from us”; just to prove to their friends that they are not Chavez supporters. Carlos’ wife, Andrea, refused to be one of that list, and showed up with her yellow dress instead. For what is worth, it seems like dark red and red wine has become the new red.

Next Monday he steps into his office of a multinational company and hears a rumor in the hallways that it will be soon confirmed by his boss: the company is no longer private, the government owns it now. The –now – old owners don’t even have a gimp of nostalgia since the government offered them more money for buying the company than what they could ever dream of. An besides, they were already tired of dealing with the risky business of having a private company managing high profit inside a so- called socialist revolution. They are relieved about the idea of starting somewhere else.

For the ones “down here”, the employees – Carlos included - there’s a whole different story. Probably their salaries and the rest of the job benefits won’t change and they might become even higher now. But new bosses are filling the desks and with new bosses, comes news ideas. In this case those ideas are bright red, the same red Andrea refused to wear at her sister in law wedding.

Carlos soon notice that the first thing that change in the company is the Human Resources department. Those people have a new assignment: to deliver the “planillas bolivarianas” (“Bolivarian forms”) to all the employees. Carlos supposes that there are different kinds of Bolivarian forms: some might include an “invitation” to a congress of a rally for supporting the Revolution, some others might offer an upcoming course on socialist values that the company employees must have.

At the same time, the publicity and graphic design department have some new assignments. The logo of the company must be changed, perhaps only slightly changed: everything that was blue or green in the old logo must switch to red with perhaps some shades of orange and a small Venezuelan flag at the bottom. New slogans are ought to be make: the old slogan that claimed that the company had offices all over the world must turn into something more patriotic that claims that this company “now” belongs to all Venezuelans. If the words “socialist” and “people” are part of the slogan, even better.

Carlos takes a deep breathe and starts surfing the net. He knows that even if the new owners offers him a higher salary, his soul won’t stand to see a Bolivarian form on his desk. While he explores the job options that are shown page after page, Carlos takes a look back at the past.

When Carlos marry Andrea, about five years ago, they talked about the possibility of leaving the country just like many of their friends were already doing; but they both had good jobs even if their salaries weren’t enough to buy an apartment or even dream of it. Back then, Andrea’s parents helped them to buy the apartment and soon they realized that they would rather live here with the political situation but with their families and still many friends around than in some other place, with no political troubles but alone. Soon they had a couple of kids and almost forgot those initial “leaving” thoughts.

But now, Carlos knows that his wife will be relieved and thankful if the possibility of leaving shows up at their doors again. You see, Andrea works at a small publicity firm that mainly does TV commercials. It is not exactly a risky job inside a Revolution but it becomes such when they realize that one of the main clients is Globovision, the only radical opposition channel that remains with an open TV signal and that is always threatened by the government. Their clients have dramatically reduced in the past few months and she always wonders for how long her lovely firm is going to resist.

Plus, Andrea is hearing those rumors all the time about socialist education and more control of the government on the kids. She has tried to stay calm, knowing that must of the rumors are nothing more than paranoia. But many of the things she once considered as just a rumor are now true and seeing the future of their children threatened in such a way is a risk that she doesn’t feel like taking.

That night, Carlos has a lot of stories for Andrea and questions about passports, dollars and visa. He knows he’s after all, a lucky guy. In a just a few days he has got a couple of interesting job offers. Seems like the companies abroad are willing to take advantage of his outstanding work experience and his advance studies at some of the best universities of the world. Not his current company – he regrets – they seem to give higher priority to other things, such as wearing a red t-shirt. He now gets why Andrea refused to wear the red dress that looks so good on her and went to the wedding with that yellow dress that isn’t exactly her favorite.

A few months later, Andrea’s parents host a barbeque at their house to say good bye. It’s a huge family and friends meeting. Andrea’s mother plays with her one and three year old grandchildren wondering if, when she gets the opportunity of see them again, they are going to recognize her at all. She’s sad, but deep inside knows this is the best that it can happen to them.

Neither Carlos or Andrea where theoretically forced to leave, they didn’t lose their jobs or were politically threatened on any way. But Venezuela isn’t the place to be theoretically speaking now. For the ones who follow the appearances, nothing is happening but for the rest, many Carlos and Andreas are leaving the country they never wanted to leave and losing a part of themselves in the process. What Venezuela doesn’t seem to realize, is that the country is also losing a part of itself in the process.