miércoles, 8 de julio de 2009

About Ledezma and his hunger strike

In Venezuela (or when its about Chavez' Venezuela), to demand some respect for your most basic rights and to caught a bit of the -hypocrite- international community, you must lead a hunger strike for six days and end up like the picture on the right. If you do not believe me, ask Ledezma: Caracas' major, choosen by his voters in a democratic process but with the bad luck of belonging to an opposition party. To be a major from an opposition party has a very high cost: the president can take you off some of your competences and even invent a new charge and name a person to rule the city that pick you up in the first place, over you.
PS: The picture was taken from this page. No copyright infringenment intended.
PS 2: Do not click at the "click here to read the rest" because there is no rest

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.

miércoles, 1 de julio de 2009

Me on Twitter

I thought I had a strong character, designed to resist the temptation of following everyone else. But I couldn’t and I fell. I have no strong character and absolutely no particular identity, since I just opened like everyone else, a Twitter account. If you want to follow me, do it HERE.

And don't click on the "Click here to read the rest" because there is no rest



A world upside down: My stance on Honduras' political crisis

Before last week, Honduras was nothing else and nothing more than some small country in Central America with a capital that carries a complicated name that always gave me trouble in my geography classes back in school “Tegucigalpa”. But soon we learned that Honduras is also another country were my president wants to spread his influence and so far, he was being successful at it. The country had already received a certain number of Cuban doctors and teachers and was on its way to pursue – illegally - a referendum that could open the gate to make some reforms to their country’ constitutions. The supposed reform was focused on soften the period- terms of the president, that are currently four years without right to reelection: one of the most limited term – period of Latin America – I think. We were no surprised to hear such news; they were way too familiar for us Venezuelans. But then, the news told us other stories as well, that for Venezuelans can sound a bit strange.

Then we learned that not only Zelaya’ next move was – theoretically speaking- illegal but that – here is where it comes the strange part – the congress, the prosecutor’ office, the Supreme Court and the military were strongly against those moves and they had no complex about speaking it out loud. For us Venezuelans, already used to see that whatever president Chavez’ does is the law and that even if its theoretically illegal then all the institutions available (from the Court, to the Electoral centre) will do all their best to make it “legal” and possible; this proof of the division of powers in a country like Honduras – I have to be honest – it simply shocked us.

Then Zelaya ordered the destitution of chief of the army: the General Romeo Vásquez Velázquez since he was not agree with Zelaya’ initiative. Then the Supreme Court ordered the restitution of the man to his charge. Then Zelaya refused to do so and continued on his way to make the illegal referendum. Then a military coup happened.

My common sense, my limited political knowledge, my democracy principles have always told me two things: one, to always distrust whatever is coming from the military side of the society; two, to always distrust a military coup since it breaks the democracy institucionality once and for all and leaves a lot of extra room for arbitrary moves. But I must confess that back on Sunday, I wasn’t sure if I should hear those couple of principles like I always do. First there was the obvious emotional side: Zelaya is one of many “Chavitos” (mini- Chavez) across Latin America and if in this world there are less “Chavitos” cheering the moves of his daddy across the International Community, then is better for us. Then, in the back of our heads, the Venezuelans are used to see a coup as a violent move, filled with casualties to regret. But in Honduras the president was simply taken to Costa Rica and there were no wounded or dead to regret. I did not see any soldier crashing against the presidential palace with a military tank like Chavez did in 1992. Plus, all the institutions in Honduras were actually cheering and giving a legal appearance to the coup: from the Supreme Court to the Congress.

Then, the strong reaction of the whole international community came. While everyone inside Honduras (putting Zelaya’ supporters aside) was happy; everyone outside Honduras was not. At first I got it: if any president openly supports a military coup outside his boarders, he can’t complain if a coup inside his boarders surprises him one day and takes him to Costa Rica. Deep inside, I think all presidents – and especially in a region like Latin America- sleep with the fear of being threatened by their armies one day. But the International Community reaction has been more than the concern of the presidents of the rest of the globe to see themselves in a similar situation.

That’s when my common sense definitely stopped making any sense to me: My president condemned the coup like it were genocide, forgetting the bloody coup attempt he leaded back in 1992 and that is now, under his command, cheered as a National Holiday. Zelaya’ speech at the UN Assembly was forced to be broadcasted (the infamous “cadenas” – “chains”) in all TV Channels and all Radio stations in Venezuela but we did not see the Honduras Congress naming Micheletti as their new president if it wasn’t for CNN and Globovision – the only opposition TV Channel available. And the rest of the International Community, the same ones who have not moved a finger when my president has done uncountable illegal moves that goes totally against democracy. The same International Community (I’m talking about the OAS here) that did not even sent a warning to Zelaya when he was trying to do whatever it pleased him disrespecting the rest of the institutions of his country. That same community was now incredible busy giving ultimatums to the new government of Honduras and condemning the coup as it were the most serious even that has ever threat a Latin American democracy. None of that makes any sense to me, especially if one of the main speakers of such community was someone like Raul Castro – not precisely a democratic leader.

That’s where my need to make a stance on the issue emerged. I will make such stance on six simple points:

1) I would like to start saying –just to avoid any confusion - which a military coup is always a risky and very undesirable way to get out of a certain crisis, because of the dangers that it represents to the stability of any political system, especially a democratic one. A friend of mine said that in Honduras they could have wait for the Congress or the Supreme Court to activate their mechanism designed in the laws to put out of office a president that represents a threat to democracy. My friend is probably right.

>2) However, it is important to say that a civilian can cause as much or even more damage to a democratic system than a soldier. Civil actions are no better than military actions if they goes against the precepts of the democracy. And in an ideal world, the International Community should give equal condemnation to any actions that threatens democracy, doesn’t matter where it is comes from.

3) Many have already said this and I'm agree. What happensed in Honduras proved how inconvenient a presidential system can be, except maybe for United States. In most Latin American countries, the political system allows a president to carry on his shoulders the weight of the legitimacy of such system. This means that if the president is missing for any reason, the congress and the rest of the institutions are not politically strong enough to fill the empty space without falling in a crisis. In exchange, a prime minister in a parliamentary system can be easily removed of his office and the country remains stable, at least more than in presidential systems.

4) The military coup in Honduras was probably motivated by the fear of a strong Venezuelan – or more likely, Chavez – intervention of the country. That fear was justified. And as Venezuelan, I’m very ashamed of that. I’m also ashamed, again, of the attitude of the OAS that has never condemn Venezuelan intervention on many Latin American countries but when a “Chavito” is under threat, the run to defend him like they never defend anything before.

5) The solution of this crisis must be decided via the institutions of Honduras and the people of that country. Not via Chavez, not via OAS, not via any of us. It is hard to imagine a scenery were Zelaya can return to power, and even if he does, his government and his project can’t return to be what they were before. If Zelaya returns to his country, despite if we like or not, he will be judged – despite if we think that it’s fair or not – and the verdict seems to be already known.

6) Although media can’t justify any end, it is true that in a very particular and not politically correct way, Honduras has taught everyone and especially the Venezuelans a lesson we forgot long time ago, in the words of an Honduras’ congress-woman and that it remind us of Kennedy: “no man is above the Constitution and the laws”.

PS: As I hope this blog together with this entry, shows: after 10 years of seeing how the politically correct can lead to non politically correct moves that constantly threatens my civil rights and my freedom, I’m tired of being politically correct.