domingo, 30 de noviembre de 2008

Professor García

(This happened a few weeks ago)Its Monday and a friend of mine -philosophy undergraduate- is preparing an art exhibit at campus. He's wearing a black shirt, which I find unusual and carries a sad look on his face. I'm wondering why he doesn't show any excitement: he has been talking about this exhibit for ages. But as I help him to finish the last details minutes before the opening ceremony, I think that my friend's bad mood its only ought to a certain nervousness.
Then he gives a quick look at his paintings like he shouldn't be doing that at all and tells me all of the sudden: "Do you know what happened to Prof. García?...

He was killed during the weekend and Abelardo (his son) was hurt. I went to his funeral yesterday..." It all comes quickly back to my mind. I never met personally Prof García but by the constant comment and stories from the friends I have from the Philosophy school, I know he taught political philosophy and was very appreciated among his students.

Prof. García (according to my friend' story) was killed for committing the sin of trying to run away with his car from a thief. The thief apparently went mad about this not so nice act and discharged his gun against the car, causing the professor' death in the process; making him know - way too late - that you can't possible run away from the bullets since they are always faster than you.

Its Monday and a friend of mine opens his long expected art exhibit at campus, and speaks to an audience like me - unaware of the latest events or that they probably heard the news and did not pay attention to the details because we hear stories like that one a lot. He dedicates his paintings to his professor as he tries to paint a half smile on his face. The routine applause of this kind of events gives him the sign that life must continue.

jueves, 27 de noviembre de 2008

I don't want to know

(originally written on October, 7th - 2008)
Today we were having lunch as usual. My mom, pressing her fingers against the table, told us in what it seemed to me like slow motion: “you know I’m never afraid of anything, you know I come back home at 3 in the morning and walk downtown Caracas but today I heard this story of a 53 year old lawyer, who lives nearby… some guys entered his house for robbing and killed him with a punch on his head, and then they hanged him to make it look like a suicide…but the thieves were surprised outside and that’s how everything was discovered…you know is not even about being worried because one of you is out at night… this happened inside a house, in the middle of the afternoon!”
I got the feeling that her voice was slowly breaking and that she would start crying any minute now but she didn’t. She just added “I’m afraid now” – And got off the table to went straight to her room.

My sister’ face looked like a funeral. But my brother in law and I reacted in a different way. Although it is not politically correct to say this, I’m ought to admit that I felt angry with my mom for telling us that story; because there’s nothing we can do about it so, What’s the point on spending a valuable time of our lives worrying and fearing disgraces we cannot stop or change?.

Can we protect us somehow? No, we don’t have the resources to install a wall and/or some security system at our place and there’s no guarantee of protection on possessing a gun, besides my family values (thankfully) would never allow them to do that.

Can we ask someone else for protection? Also no. We trust the police even less than the thieves and assassins out there and if you continue reading this blog carefully you will notice that the government has not moved one single finger to reduce the delinquency but quite the opposite: has allowed it to increase. And it doesn’t seem that another citizen request for security will bring anything besides an equally worse political retaliation.

Can we put our possessions somewhere else in a way that we don’t look as “robbery or kidnap material”? I have refused to buy an IPOD and prefer to stay with a cheap Mp3 and a pair of old headphones fixed with scotch tape, I never wear any jewelry except only a pair of fantasy earrings and avoid, specially if I’m using public transportation, to walk around the city wearing good clothes. With those rituals, my hope is to look as a “bad business” for the delinquents. But my light skin, my sort of Spanish look- like face and the bus stop where I get down shows clearly that I don’t belong to a poor neighborhood and there’s nothing I can do to hide that.

Plus; there’s a possession, the most valuable of all that you can’t perform a lot of tricks to protect: its called life and it seems to be stolen to equally rich, poor people, middle class, people who seem to have a lot of money but don’t even have a penny, to simply everybody in Venezuela. I think the delinquency is the most democratic thing Venezuela has at the moment. So the answer is also, no.

Is there’s anything we can do to avoid suffering the terrible ending that lawyer my mom told us today had? To experience the million of similar stories, one worse than the other that we hear every single damn day? No.

“So, mom” – I said to myself – “Why are you telling us all this then? Perhaps with this situation we will live for another day, perhaps we are lucky enough to survive and grow old as my grandparents did. But the days we got left, we deserve to live them maybe not with an unworried happiness but yet, with a certain tranquility. I deserve to feel excited about my boyfriend coming home to visit tonight and not feeling (as I end up feeling after my mom’s story) worried and guilty thinking that tonight maybe won’t be a great night with him as usual, but instead when he gets down of his car and walks to my front door, he would be surprised not by my kiss but by a thief I couldn’t notice, hidden in the garden…

I don’t want to move on with this imaginary story, sometimes I don’t know if I should just call him and say “hey! lets not see each other again because our dates could be interrupted with the insecurity ghost… lets continue with out relationship over the phone and “live” our lives inside our rooms, inside our houses, waiting for the thieves who can also come inside our rooms, inside our houses, took away our lives and make it look like a suicide…” I just don’t see the point of feeling fear if there’s nothing you can do to change the circumstances that created that fear.

That’s why I felt angry with my mom, because after another happy lunch, she filled our nerves with fear, tension, sadness, frustration, guilt, sorrow and a long list of etc. I know you will answer this story with things such as the free speech and the need for information, you will think about how is it possible that I’m promoting simply not to be informed about the events that are ought to be in front page of every single paper because of their cruelty. You will ask me “What about this lawyer? And his family? Don’t they deserved to make the world know what happened?”.

Dear reader, I’m completely agree with you. I’m a person who has repeated that couple of words (free speech) and has being mad to those who are irresponsible enough to simply not wanting to know what’s going on out there. I’m one of those who yells at others things like “as long as it doesn’t touch you, you are not going to care”.

It’s a paradox really. I know I need to know, I know I must know but yet I’m angry at mom because she made me know. And until that second she opened her mouth I was happy, I was so happy you couldn’t believe it.

I got a new and lovely part time job that allows me to keep working on my thesis.. I saw the news on CNN to find out the time the debate between Obama and Mc Cain was suppose to start and made it into the perfect excuse for asking my boyfriend to come over tonight. I was planning to spend the afternoon between a thesis chapter I must finish and my piano, right after lunch; then a long bath, then choosing the best clothes (nothing that looked too classy, because after all he’s only going to come over to watch a televised debate; but something that made me look at least decent), then a little make up and then to act casual until I saw his car stopping at my place. Then a hug, a kiss, a “how was your day at work?” I was so stupidly happy living my day and thinking about how great was going to be the rest of it.

Then came lunch, my mom told us a story about a lawyer killed inside his place for not other excuse than stealing lame less things. Then my sister’ funeral face. And all my happiness switched with an intense fear mixed with the certainty that I can’t do anything about it. My picture of a night laying in the couch watching a debate was changed for strange scenes of thieves and guns and who knows what else making me lose not only my money (I wish this were only about stealing money and that’s it) but the ones I love the most. I felt like crying. I felt like writing here. I forgot about the piano or the thesis.

And I just made a speech against free speech because life has remind me to build a commitment with the life itself sacrificing the commitment I had with ulterior things, such as the right to be informed.

Whenever I write about fear I think of this prelude of the first Cello Suite by Bach. Here's a lovely interpretation I found in youtube.

lunes, 24 de noviembre de 2008

The crowded bubbles

Here you can see the new Venezuelan political map (counting only the governors of each state, not the mayors, I will try to work on a map based on those results as soon as I got them). It is quite obvious that Chavez' party won and won big at most of the states, leaving us only a very few blue areas. But the ones who are busy celebrating that our country is still totally revolutionary, must look at those tiny blue areas: the states with most population, most industries and therefore with more strategic importance that the other except for the case of Bolívar or Anzoátegui that still belong to them; are now in opposition hands.
They are bubbles, crowded bubbles, trapped and alone in a world that still belong to the revolution, surrounded by revolutionary states, exposed to the constant threats of the government but still offering not only resistance but maybe proper alternative political projects to the country.

Things doesn't look as good as I wanted, and it makes me sad to see Venezuelans of those red states voting like sheeps for the Commander and Chief desires. It makes me sad to see that a huge part of Venezuela, probably the most part, think that the Revolution is actually good for us. I don't care if people like the Revolution or not, my point is that the forces are not even close of being balanced and the Revolution has way too much power in part because a lot of people wanted that way, and still do.

But things can get better, with time. The mayors and governors who are going to be at the offices that once belong to the Revolution have a lot of work to do, in most parts the Revolution has proof to be nothing but unneficient in its way to rule. In Caracas, from having only three mayors out of six, we have five now so I trust this brings some changes to my city that has become dangerous, dirty and depressive under the Revolution command. Lets just wait and see if the life inside one of those crowded bubbles proof to make some difference.

domingo, 23 de noviembre de 2008

The tiny one (Updated with some results!!)

This picture proves that I actually voted. It was quick and painless: was just about pressing a few bottoms and then end up with that finger painted with that nasty purple ink that will stay with me for a couple of days... nice...

I have looked election after election that finger and can't help but thinking on how akward this practice of marking us like cows is. But the purple mark has become a certain symbol of prestige, and those who don't have that finger painted tomorrow will recieve killer looks from others. Same as the ring proof you are engaged or married, this purple fingers proof I'm a citizen; or at least I try to.

Some students groups of my university make out of this finger issue, a slogan for calling people to vote. "Mójate el chiquito" - "Wet the little one" - said the slogan in that fun and irrevent and obviously second sense way.

Well, in the meantime I'm waiting for the results and trying to not listen to many rumors circulating, they say that someone won this and someone won that... at the end mostly are only rumors. I will update this blog as soon as I got official results. But that's probably not going to happen till very late at night... the Electoral Center never let us sleep on days like this.

UPDATE!! The CNE finally (at 12:00 am) gave the first result. We are still waiting for the results of three states. The opposition won at only three states so far: Zulia, Miranda (mine) and Nueva Esparta. If you do the math that means that at least 16 states remain in the hands of Chavez' party. I don't know what to do with those results, if to cry, if not, if to trust them or not. I think I need to sleep now, knowing that even counting that seems like I still live in a Chavista (pro-Chavez) country, at least I don't live in a Chavista state, that's for sure. But the winner of Miranda is Capriles Radonsky, not exactly the guy I wanted even if he's from the opposition. The one I wanted was Mendoza and his political rights for running were denied by the general attorney. So thats how our "democracy" works. I just need to sleep right now and will come tomorrow with more clean thoughts.

Nothing to lose (updates on today's elections)

Yesterday, I said that today' regional elections are actually small consesions for the citizens of Venezuela that saw their political rights denied weeks before the actual elections. As I prepare myself for going to my voting center I find myself feeling optimist. Despite what the CNE might do or the government or wathever there's a fact that can't be denied: the opposition has nothing to lose on this elections.

We have only a couple of states and a few mayors at the must. The Revolution on the other hand concentrates its power across the country, virtually almost all the regional and local offices are in hands of a member from the Chavez party or in hands of a now "traitor" (a once Chavez supporter that made one slight criticism and at the next second he was called that way by the president and expelled off the party, there's many cases like those).

So, since we have nothing, any small state, any small local office that pass to our hands will be a victory. A small consesion, but still a victory. And that small victory would mean nothing but a defeat to the Revolution that always expect to have the entire country on its hands. Maybe this elections can become a small proof that this Revolution cannot be absolute even if its the majority, cannot be the only political project of Venezuela.

I haven't vote yet. Must of my family already did and they told me the process could be a little bit complicated. We live with our grandmother and can't leave her alone so we take turns for going to vote. I'm waiting for mine and will update this blog as soon as I vote.

sábado, 22 de noviembre de 2008

A vote as a must, on halfways elections

As you might know, we have regional elections tomorrow. We will choose our governors and mayors. At least that’s what people say. They are thrilled working on political campaigns, excited about changing the Venezuelan political map from red to some other color, they volunteered as witnesses, ready to spend the whole day at every single electoral center of the country, to make sure the elections are fair, clean, and legal.

I will wake up early, go to the center, and vote; expecting with my fingers crossed some results that will benefit the opposition. And there’s pretty strong chances that we can proof tomorrow that Venezuela isn’t exactly Chavez’s country… but ours.

Even considering all that, I feel quite … gray.. about those elections. So gray that I haven’t even worked on the campaign.

For start, none of the candidates that I really want them to become my mayors and governor are actually running for this elections (Leopoldo López for Caracas mayor, Mendoza for my state, Miranda, governor and David Uzcátegui for Baruta mayor). Not because they didn’t want to, not because they didn’t had a chance but because their political rights were denied, under suspects of corruption, without any trial that actually prove it.

So the opposition quickly switched the candidates I really wanted for the ones who were behind on voting intentions. As the week passed, they turned that group of candidates into a single one for every mayor and state to be won. In that way, the chances for the opposition to win are stronger but the options for a voter who dislike Chavez’s project are now restricted in those two ways.

Besides, there’s the typical troubles we see on every single election since I was old enough to vote: an electoral Center on which members actually belong or used to, to the Chavez’s party. Chavez’ making this election completely personal by forcing all channels and radio stations to broadcast events where you see him making some company to the candidate from his party and threatening the opposition candidates, offering them even to take out his military tanks if they win.

There’s also the restriction inside Chavez’s party, where he has put in many states the candidate HE likes and now the ones HIS followers like.

The elections are going to be made, as all the previous ones, in a completely automatic way with all the little troubles this imply. This time the machines are designed for not letting you vote null, you have to select a candidate for every charge that is in game or the machine won’t work. I don’t know if the political theory I read was wrong but I thought a null vote was a right, and it was different from not voting at all. A null vote means I’m worried enough to go to work, but I don’t think any of the candidates will do it right. Its a protest, and it should be heard. But it can’t be heard thanks to our amazing automatic system.

So even if the opposition wins one or two or three states, I won’t feel it like a triumph. Because long before this elections, my right to vote freely for the candidate of my choice was taken and we have to conform with little concessions: an “electoral” process were we can choose the candidates the Revolution allowed us to choose, were we can play only by the rules the Revolution has decree, despite if they are legal or not, if they are in our constitution or not.

Thrilled or not, I still consider important to go to vote tomorrow, here you have to take advantage of those tiny concessions and little by little, to speak out against the things you don’t believe: such as the Revolution, their candidates, and “ours”; the few ones who can actually run for something tomorrow.

Also, this process promise to be interesting not because of the endless opposition against Chavez play, but because Chavez has now yet another enemy: the ones who once were sheep’s under his commands but not anymore and yet they are still way too revolutionary to join the opposition. The one who Chavez calls “traitors”. The ones I call “a third interesting opinion” to join this charade.

Coming back to the blogging world

My mom hates the apologies just as much as I hate horror movies. Back when I was just a kid and later on, when I became an impossible teenager (like all teenagers are), every time I messed up things, my mom gave me this deep look and said in a terrible rough voice "I don't want to hear you saying you sorry" - That line was like a barrier stocked in my throat leaving me unable to speak out the "brilliant" line that always popped out in my head -"What else am I supposed to do besides saying "I'm sorry?"-

Later on (because you never get those valuable parental lessons until you are adult enough for not needing them anymore), I understood why my mom couldn't stand to hear me saying "I'm sorry".
The words "I'm sorry" are made out of the weight of guilt, increased by the following sentence: "It was not my intention" or "I didn't mean to hurt you". The words "I'm sorry" seem to be also made of ice, of that freaking emotional coldness that leave you frozen, without knowing what to do about some things that already happened and you supposedly cannot change.

So, dear readers and new ones, although it is true that I'm sorry and it was not my intention to let my fears and doubts win and close this blog, erasing all its contents off the blogosphere; I think you deserve a little more than an apology.

So I change the sorry for the return to the blogosphere.

I decided to return first because I missed blogging and writing so much! Also, I’m sure I still need to learn a lot of English in order to achieve some personal projects I have and this has proven to be a fantastic tool to learn. Third, because many things have happened since I erased this blog. Some of those things I can’t speak out about them, to protect my privacy and the sake of others but some other things deserve to be told here. I think that if I still have something to tell in order to provide a personal perspective on the Venezuelan crisis that can bring the reality a little bit closer to the foreigners, I should keep writing; even if sometimes I’m scared about doing it.

Last but not least, some technical details: This blog keeps the same title, the same spirit and the same domain the previous one had.

I carefully read, edited and republished some of the entries that were part of this blog before I erased it a few months ago, respecting its original date. Because of that editing work I didn’t publish the comments people originally made about those entries. The entries that didn’t make to this version of the blog, I can guarantee that they won’t be missed at all: they were poorly written, made only to fill some space, publish something and get some visitors.

I also add some multimedia material (translation: youtube) to many entries that I thought they needed a song or a video to be more properly understood.

All the re-published entries are under the “first season” tag. I plan to make a lot of more slight changes to this blog, but I didn’t want that to stop its releasing date. So to whoever might read this; hello again! Hope this can restart my previous mistake.

PS: I was listening to this song while writing this post. It probably doesn't relate a lot but I just wanted to share. It's "Out of my head" by Fastball