lunes, 25 de mayo de 2009

A new blog

I 've just started a new blog in Spanish. This blog will be what I consider a "light blog", a blog that touches many personal life (but not private life) topics and that it will try, as possible, to not be related with my political side (since I have this blog for my political side). So HERE is the URL if you are interested and if you speak spanish of course. Enjoy it! and regards... Julia
PS: Don't click at the "click here to see the rest" option, there is no rest.

sábado, 23 de mayo de 2009

It is not about the poor, it is about power (letter to a reader)

Dear Julian: Since you wrote your comment in Spanish, I'm starting the response with a rough translation of your comment (hope it is accurate enough) so that the rest of the readers can catch up with our talk:

“Well, I’m curious to know why you don’t like Chavez. In particular, which ones of his policies do you disagree with? We must remember that Chavez arrival to the national scene and his great political ascend comes in a context of decades of frustration with a ruling class that always acted in the name of the interests of the great business man, at the working class expense. For example, what Pérez did in 1989 with all the economical liberations and the change of the Bolívar price which made 80% of the population fell in an extreme poverty situation. We can speak about democracy and human rights but deep inside what’s happening is a war between classes on which the poor seem to be winning at the moment. And, how are you going to support an opposition that constantly closes hospitals and social missions that only serve the most vulnerable people? That doesn’t make any sense except that you don’t care about the poor...That the great Revolution continues!”

I’m sorry for the delay on answering to your comment. But I’ll start now, and I’ll go straight to the point.

You asked me why I don’t agree with Chavez. When Chavez aroused to the political scene by leading a failed coup d’ etat in 1992, I was 7 years old and lived nearby a military airport. The experiences I had that day were responsible of the political opinions I develop later. In that day I learned that a war is simply a painful, scary and a non desirable event; no matter the causes, no matter the reasons, its consequences are enough to drop the idea of a war. So when you speak about a war between classes and also cheer such thing I don’t have other choice but to be against. Please understand: it is not because I am against the poor. It is because I am against war, of all kinds under all excuses, no matter who wins and who loses.

But this, my blog, my stances, my life in Venezuela 17 years after that failed coup, is not all about Chavez. Chavez is just a man, and to be honest he’s not that important. What matters are the views and ideas sold carrying Chavez’ face in the cover. I think that those views are not suitable to provide a fair and stable political system that can bring some progress in my country.

In reality, there is no such thing as social classes. People make up different tags to categorize people, mostly according to their convenience and those categories are flexible enough to go beyond their original definition. Take the poor people for example. We all understand what “poor people” really means: people who lack something: economical resources, opportunities, you name it. But Chavez uses this worldwide known category and change slightly its definition. For Chavez the poor are not just the poor as we know it, the poor are also the “people”, the “Venezuelan people”, the only citizens of the country and the most important of all: the ones who agree with the Revolution.

The ones whose don’t agree with him, despite our incomes, are immediately tagged in the “enemies” class: “the rich people” who are not all really rich, but for sure there’s not even one revolutionary inside that group. And the Bolivarian Revolution has repressed in many ways the ideas, expectations, and civil rights of the ones tagged as “rich” (they can be students, politicians, reporters, employees) and I have to say this again: despite our incomes.

So this is not about being “poor” or “rich” or about being against the poor. This is not about taking sides. This is about what is fair, this about respecting everyone despite their ideas, their ethnicity and their incomes as well. I would rather have a political system that promotes inclusion instead of exclusion (doesn’t matter which is the group excluded), that doesn’t promotes hate or resentment and that simply looks forward to the future, to a future of more opportunities so that any Venezuelan can develop its life in the way we deserve: a way that is free enough to respect our desires and expectations but not free enough to disrespect others. I would rather have a system who is respectful of everyone’s ideas and that does not lose time categorizing someone as the “people” and another as the “enemy”.

As for Chavez’ programs in particular I’m not against Chavez because I’m against his social programs. I’m against Chavez because of his exclusion policy and his attempts against a democratic system. You should check this blog archives so you can read many first hand examples of that policy and of those attempts. I don’t have anything against any program that can systematically improve life conditions, as long as it is applied in a fair way, without discrimination of any kind and as long as it doesn’t force anyone to compromise himself with the revolutionary ideology. Chavez’ social programs pretend that is possible to buy a person, and turning it into a “revolutionary” individual by giving the bread he so desperately needs. But we, human beings are more than bread, and I hope not all of us can be bought. Plus, it is the government’ duty to guarantee a minimum of decent life conditions for all its citizens, we shouldn’t cheer a government so much for doing what he must do. We don’t cheer the bakery man for making the bread. It’s his job.

Last but not least, I wish you could tell me your source for the information you gave in your comment. The historical events are simplified and not quite accurate. Plus, the last paragraph when you blame the opposition of closing Chavez’ social programs it is simply far from being true. The opposition can be blamed for many things, but not for this matter.

Your comment ends cheering the Revolution, and in that way, it shows what it was truly obvious: that your comment is filled with an ideology. An ideology I don’t agree with, but even more: an ideology that the Bolivarian Revolution has spread worldwide, selling it as it were the truth. And that ideology has been sold as something beautiful, as something created to help the most vulnerable people. But it isn’t about that, it just about holding more power to the expenses of the ones who are against the Revolutionary System, again despite their incomes. It is not about the poor, it is about the power.

By writing this blog, I believe I’m making a contribution to the hard task of showing what it’s behind the Bolivarian Revolution ideology and events. I hope I can open some people eyes, according to my life experiences and perspectives. But it doesn’t matter if you can’t see what I’m seeing, you already read this. And that’s enough for me.

jueves, 14 de mayo de 2009

Next time, it can be about us

For an analyst, for a politician, for a journalist, for a business man; for all of them it is certainly different: it is real, it comes sometimes without warning and changes their lives, their view, all those things they once took for granted. But for the rest of us, what makes it unbearable to live under this Revolution has to do more about the threats and less about the facts.

Chavez makes different sorts of threats virtually every single day. In case he had no chance to make enough threats during the week; his Sunday show “Aló Presidente” gives him a perfect chance to do it. The treats can be predictable or totally crazy; he can either keep his words or easily forget about them on the next day.

His threats are addressed to a wide variety of enemies: one day can be Bush and another the Capitalism, then the Oligarchs, the land-owners, the students, the media, the international media, any thing that moves that has ever spoken a word against him, the middle class, the Catholic church, the opposition politicians and parties, the international community, Human Rights groups and non- profit organizations.

This means that eventually, his threats are addressed to all of us. I doubt there’s someone free of Chavez threats. There’s no one who can be considered untouchable.

With every threat that comes we feel more and more vulnerable. We think: “If he’s coming for this person or this group; how long it will take him to come for me too?” In that way, we have learned that under this Revolution we can’t take anything for granted.

We might not be analysts. We might not be politicians or business men or journalists. But we are us. We have a profession, a race, a gender, a social background, a political and a religious belief and sooner or later, when Chavez gets tired of fighting today’ enemies; one of those things about us will become a problem. The must insignificant detail can be Chavez reason to make a new threat, one not so sunny day at one “Alo Presidente” or at any other occasion.

That’s the shadow we are ought to live under. It’s the seductive effect of the threat, which consists on the idea that we better watch out, we better afraid, always, constantly. Because next time it might be real, it might be anytime. Next time, he can speak about us.

sábado, 2 de mayo de 2009

"I don't agree with this"

My parents went to a demonstration against the Revolution yesterday. As usual, the people who attended the protest met with a disproportionate and repressive police forces; that were throwing away so many tear gas bombs that we are starting to think on tear gas bombs as an indefinite resource of our nation. In the meantime, just blocks away from the chaos, the government supporters were marching like a perfect mass of red ants without any police force available to take them out of the streets. While my parents were running away from the tear gas, they found an awkward scene at one of the parallel streets: a policeman, "fat and scared" (as described by my mom) was walking in the opposite direction.

He stopped for a minute and told my mom: "lady, I’m sorry…I just need the job... but I don't not agree with this... I'm going home". The explosions were sounding non stop and the gas was starting to leave that nasty feeling in the throat, but for a minute, my mom did not felt sad or angry. Her heart was restored thanks to that little dose of hope, expressed in that policeman disagreement and determination. Maybe there are more guys like him, throwing the bombs and feeling ashamed of themselves, screaming inside "I don't agree with this!". Things could be different, if they dare (and we all too) to say it out loud.

About the picture: Taken from the Venezuelan news portal You can see more images of yesterday protest here

viernes, 1 de mayo de 2009

Why do I say that Chavez is not a dictator? (letter to a reader)

Dear Cochi:On a previous entry titled “No yet” you criticize the fact that I’m not calling Chavez a dictator and asked me to stop giving excuses and to stop trying to be politically correct. Like I promised, I’m replying to your comment in a post. It wasn’t an easy task and I hope you have the patience to read the whole long and boring argument. First of all I must say that this is not just about giving excuses or being politically correct. No one knows better than me that in order to criticize this regime and to show it to the world in its true colours, one must flirt over and over and over with the politically incorrect world. With that being said, I repeat here that Chavez is not a dictator and I doubt he ever will. I have four reasons in particular to support my stance, without giving excuses or trying to be “politically correct”:

1. We are living in times where to even conceive a dictatorship and a dictator like we once conceived it (I’m talking about Mussolini, Hitler, even Pinochet, Pérez Jiménez, Gómez, Pol- Pot, Lenin etc etc etc) is harder every day.
This is because, on one side, to look good in front of the international community has never been so important. We have seen for the first time, previous dictators being prosecuted for their atrocities; we have seen the pressure human rights groups can makes and the consequences that a government must face if they ignore that pressure (I’m thinking about the recent Guantánamo scandal, to put an example). Is not that human rights are no longer disrespected, is just that every day is getting harder and harder for states to pursue high scale human rights abuses without suffering the consequences (even for the president of Sudán).

On the other side, Internet has allowed infinite ways to be informed and to express dissent. Even in Cuba and China where Internet is banned, people always find new ways to escape from censorship. So I have a blog and I can say whatever I want about the president and the Revolution. Sure I could go to jail and all that, but they are a million bloggers like me, all over the work who can say whatever they want about the president and the Revolution. And I can write to someone, make connections and write a post from jail if I want to. The point is that there’s nothing a government can do to stop the Internet and its possibilities. Except to disconnect us all and the government needs to be online. So it’s a vicious circle were the democracy always win and the wannabe dictators always lose.

2. So we have to stop looking at the world with a democracy against dictatorship way of reasoning. And start caring about other things because we have passed the basic requirement for a democratic system which is a society were dissent truly exist (even if the government wishes to make it dissapear at any price, we know they can't totally make it). As for the human rights, the work will never stop, and we are always going to see violations but it is important that those violations have now consequences they didn’t had before. So this works the same as some diseases that disappear from the world and are never going to appear in the exact same way, we generally don’t worry about the animals we are going to hunt for dinner tonight or about the long horse ride and the three weeks ship that is going to take us from one place to another.
We have other concerns and the same should work with the political system. We can always conceive a system as democratic but knowing its imperfections and concerning about them not because democracy is going to be over for good, but rather because not all the things that happen under a democracy are respectful of the citizen’s requests and rights. A democracy is not an endless guarantee of that, as we wish for. And I’m glad we can have more sophisticated concerns than just thinking if this is a democracy or not.

For example one concern should be about Elections. We all know that in democracy, an election should be clean, universal, secret and fair. And it’s quite possible than in the strict sense of the word, elections in Venezuela are all that. But we have to go beyond the basics: what happens before the Election Day and after is also important to define if the elections have been as democratic as they should. I’m thinking on unfair government advantage, irregularities in the electoral lists, threats and even, the reasons and the circumstances under a certain election was called. It is also important to establish a difference between elections and referendum. And to look at the consequences that an electoral process might have for the citizens.
In a dictatorship no one from the opposition party can aspire to any political charge. In Venezuela you still can aspire to a political charge if you belong to the opposition. But the limits and obstacles for doing that are huge.

Another concern (although this one is not new) should be about the majority will. I think this concern can’t be explained under the democracy versus dictatorship model. We can have a perfect autocratic model, but if it’s what the majority wished for and voted for in perfect democratic elections, Can we speak about dictatorship? You know, Chavez is not just some bad guy alone doing non- democratic things. There’s also a society that for the better or the worse allows him to do it and you can’t leave this out of the analysis. I don’t want to be confused with the argument that everyone has the ruler it deserves, but rather that the society for reasons we can’t always understand builds its own ruler and in another direction, a ruler takes advantage of the society he commands. It’s some sort of an awful symbiosis.

3. In the same order of ideas I’m convinced by the experience of living under this system that we must stop just looking at the actions and caring more about the intentions. It doesn’t matter if, for a fact, Chavez is not yet a dictator. What matters is that for a fact, Chavez holds those intentions.

I’m not concerning about it because his intentions might come into reality. I have said earlier that they never will. Lets say we have not seen a case of a disease called “dictatorasis” since (put here the year you like, this gives room for a lot of discussion); and there's a guy who’s speaking about going to the graveyard to extract the body of the last person who died from that disease, and look for a component present in the DNA of his bones that can make the disease appear again. Even if we have loads of experts telling us that this guy is crazy and that doing that is impossible, it doesn’t mean we are going to like the guy. His intentions are more disrespectful with our achievements on our work of make the disease disappear than actually dangerous. But that doesn't mean we are just going to leave the guy alone.

And Chavez intentions might not end up in a dictatorship but they are ending into a democracy filled with vices and limits and lack of political culture. Not exactly the kind of system I want to live under.

4. Last but not least I must say that there are political systems, democratic systems, which are built under speeches that concern us in terms of losing individual rights but that doesn’t mean they are not any less democratic.
There are many examples, but right now I can only remember two speeches in particular: the security speech and the hunger speech. Those speeches work as politically correct excuses to make actions that neither provide more security nor mitigate hunger but give excuses, plus democratic support, to all kinds of arbitrary actions. Chavez uses both, but the hunger speech has provided him more legitimacy, especially over seas. So we must concern about such speeches, we must show to others that they are not cute caring words from our president and we must raise our voices against it. Not because the democracy is in danger, but because we are in a democracy expressing dissent and because we don’t want to fall in a democracy filled with arbitrary actions. We are not doing it because Chavez is a dictator but because his arbitrary actions reduce the guarantees we need to pursue a normal personal life and fair and normal aspirations. And the good part is, like I said on point 1, that we have indefinite channels to raise our voices against him.

So I think we can speak now about new ways under democracy is presented to us. They have some authoritarian basis and some dictatorship parallels. But just because they are not a dictatorship in the Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Pinochet, Castro, Pol- Pot, Pérez Jiménez kind of way, just because they are not dictatorships we shouldn’t be any less concerned. I think we have reached a time where our request is not about being in a democracy instead of a dictatorship. But to be in a better, more fair and respectful democracy instead of one that continuously make us doubt of the term.

Well Cochi, that’s all I can say. I’ll be looking forward for your reply. And even better, I’ll be also waiting for the reply of other readers, if they wish to join the discussion.