domingo, 5 de julio de 2009

Mr. Chavez is not our "real" president

Everyone knows that in 1998 Hugo Chávez Frías was elected as the president of my country and has been our president ever since. When anyone asks who is the one who holds power in Venezuela; the most obvious answer is Hugo. Hugo supposedly controls the National Assembly, all the justice System, most of the regional governments and many sectors of the economy thanks to an increasing nationalization of many private industries. Chavez is the one who sets the rules and we are the ones who follow them, no matter if they are legal, fair or not. In theory and in many aspects of our daily lives, that’s true. But in reality, the essence of our lives it is not ruled by Chavez, it is ruled by something else, something that is yet more powerful than him.

Our president is not Chavez. Our president is the rampant crime and the fear it causes on each and every single one of us. The crime is our only commander, the rules we follow to avoid it are the only ones we truly follow. Our dictator is not a populist person and his desire, our dictator is the crime because we can never trust their rules since every time a new crime comes, it proves that the rules we were following are not effective enough. Our identity is not shaped by the contradictions of a Revolutionary process that speaks with the language of a radical political left, because a national identity only exists when all the people who belong to a country have something in common. And we don’t have the Revolution in common, we don’t have Chavez rules and actions in common since they vary and discriminate in an unfair way from different groups of Venezuelans.

What we have in common does not discriminate us on any way. What we have in common might be more frequent between the lower classes and around the poor areas where those social classes live, but at the same time it is also something impossible to avoid between higher classes were the richer you are, the higher is your possibility to become a kidnapping material” (we call it a “secuestrable” person) and higher is your risk to be actually kidnapped; no matter what security measures you take and how much money you spend on that. Everyone here knows how much money you make, no matter how hard you try to keep it low profile. We all know that “they” know. What we have in common does not distinguish between Chavez supporters and opponents. What we have in common is the fear, and is just as democratic as the air. And it is just so common that it truly shapes our identities.

It’s around our fear that we live our lives, it’s because of fear that we decide what to do and what not do, it’s around the fear we define ourselves. Crime is all around us; without a special selection, privilege, or distinction. It is the incredible democratic and general nature of the crime at this place what scares us the most. The crime that hunts my country does not have criteria to pick their victims. And without those criteria, we all are potential victims.

On this blog there is a label called “insecurity” were I have marked all the entries were I talk about a personal situation related to crime. I have many to tell and I haven’t tell them all on this blog, mostly because of lack of time or because it is not safe to tell certain stories. Today, I’m sad to add to this tag yet another entry: this one. Not because I’m treating crime as if it were our government but because I have yet another example to prove it.

Because of personal circumstances we’re moving in a few weeks from my current house to a building not so far from where I’m living right now. The building is located right in front of a shopping mall and it has a very convenient newsstand just a couple of steps outside the front door. We were pretty excited with the idea of living for the first time so close to basic services like a supermarket or a bakery. Where we are living now we have to use the car even to buy the newspaper so my dad was dreaming about waking up on a Sunday morning and just take a few steps, buy the newspaper and to come back home without all the process of using the car for something so simple. Not anymore.

We just heard that this morning, a man that lives in the exact same building to where we are planning to move was killed while he was doing just exactly what my dad was planning to do: to buy the newspaper at the newsstand located just outside the building. Another man passed by in a motorcycle and asked our –now not – future neighbor to give him his belongings. Our future neighbor refused and did something stupid: started running back to the building, back to his place. The motorcycle guy went mad, took his gun, and shoot him right in his head. Then, he disappeared, satisfied for taking a life instead of the belongings of his victim.

Such uncanny events are frequent in my city. We just didn’t know that something like that could happen at daylight, in the morning, right outside the building where we are supposed to live in a few weeks, and to one of our neighbors. It’s too much; it had happened way too close and had left me terrified.

My first thought is that I don’t want to move. But honestly we do not have other choice. My second thought is that I fear for the lives of my family, of all of us who are going to be forced to at least stop to get inside the building. I fear for what could happen to us during those seconds while the electronic gate of the building’ garage is opening. Or what could happen if any of us can’t use a car for a day and is forced to walk where right now the body of that neighbor lies in the ground. I fear about what could happen to my boyfriend, because we don’t have a visitors parking line and he’s going to be forced to park outside the building. I’m worried what could happen to him during those seconds when he’s walking till the front door of the building. At day or night, it doesn’t seem to give any difference. Should we stop going out from now on? Should he stop visiting me? I honestly can’t think of any solution, of any action that could make us feel a bit more secure.

Now, to go on foot to the mall or to the newsstand that were the main attractive points about moving there, are now out of any consideration. But this is not just about a certain place, a certain street, a certain building.

A few lines ago I said that crime here does not have any criteria to select its victims. This time it was our future neighbor. A few months ago it was the kidnapping of a member of my family. And the list goes on. Like I said we are all potential victims.

Well, perhaps not all of us Venezuelans. One exception comes now to my mind: the “official” President of Venezuela, Mr. Chavez. He doesn’t even seem concerned about the crime that hits his country. He seems busier at the moment taking care of a coup in Honduras.

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