viernes, 17 de diciembre de 2010

Our Christmas

Once upon a time there was a family; expecting, after a rather hard year, to celebrate Christmas. They knew they lived in a land far far away from democracy and near near near Revolution. And is quite hard in those circumstances to plan a celebration and expect it all will turn the way we thought it to be. But still, as they were decorating the Christmas tree, joking and exchanging wish lists; they never could never predict what was coming.

First came the rain. They have been expecting it anxiously. For almost a year they didn’t have water service at least once a week; and it was quite annoying. Not to mention electricity cuts off… So when rain came they were happy. But when it never stopped, they were not. Besides some water filters on the roof, they didn’t suffered a lot. But others, with less luck than them did. They lose their houses, some their lives, most; everything. They saw how politics were eager to deliver the best of them to help those in disgrace; and to earn some votes in between. Politics from one side accused the other of not doing the right thing when the people just wanted to see them all together, working for what it was needed. And so the rain, the neighbors tragedy and the endless fight that turns into politics everything that it is not; stole their Christmas.

Then, came the deputies. To the family they proved to be even worse than the rain. Those functionaries, always serving everyone except themselves, their dignity and their criteria, worked non- stop for a questionable end: to stole this family’ Christmas. They did so under Esteban’ commands (Esteban of course, is not its real name, but its real name can’t be legally used). Esteban wasn’t worried about Christmas but what it could happen later; after his faithful group of deputies were changed for another not so faithful to him.

All kinds of law were put into the table, one more controversial than the other. One more destructive than the other.

One gave several restrictions to free speech by imposing new regulations to TV, radio and even Internet’ Web sites. Considering that at least one family member is a blogger, and other works at a production company; you will probably understand what this was specially concerning for them.

Another went against science: created to forbid researchers at public universities to research whatever they like, but only those topics the government’ judges as useful. Considering that this family has at least three members dedicated to academic research, you will probably understand why this was specially concerning for them.

Other, a short one, prohibited all financial aid from international organizations for political parties and non profits organizations. Considering two members of this family work for non profits; you will probably understand why this was specially concerning for them.

The family soon lost the count of how many laws were being discussed and quickly approved before January (and before Christmas). But each law released was a hit on the face for this family and for the country they lived in.
Still, the family decided to celebrate Christmas. This decision was made, primarily because they still had hopes in the new Assembly, to take functions in January. The new Assembly still was holding a majority of Esteban’ deputies but there were now a lot, quite a lot of new people; people who were not at Esteban’ disposal; and they were a breeze of fresh air. The family also thought that some Esteban’ deputies could eventually changed their minds (it has happened before) and from there; they could derogate most of these laws, among other things. They dreamed about a country with a democracy near near near, and a Revolution far, far away. In the name of that and in behalf of their Christmas; they decided to toast.

The toast was interrupted when one member came with news, with even more news. Esteban’ was speaking (Esteban speaks all the time). And among the whole bunch of things he was saying that this family will never remember; two things stole this family Christmas for good.

First, Esteban proposed a law (that their fellow faithful deputies were surely going to approve any minute) that would prohibit any member of the Assembly to change its mind; forcing them to follow them forever. If they didn’t, they could be disqualified and removed off their charges. From now on, the National Assembly’ seat would belong to the party and not to the person. The family read the news, feeling the lost of the free criteria of any person; member of Parliament included; very deeply. The law also brought the lost of their hopes; because under this new law it was going to be impossible to collect enough votes in the Parliament, even if the people inside it dared someday to think different.

Secondly, Esteban proposed another law. The law that would make him completely free and everyone else – this family I’m talking about – imprisoned and unable to make decisions. It was called the enabling law; and it would give him special powers to rule by decree with no need of anyone’s approval for at least a year. The family read yet again the news; feeling the ghost of dictatorship they always feared coming closer.

Esteban said he wanted this because of tragedy created because of the rain. But the family knew no enabling law is needed to take care of those in misfortune; just political will of doing things right. They knew Esteban had other intentions and they were quite aware of his strategy. The new Assembly, the one they had put their hopes in; was going to be useful for a year because Esteban would dictate all the laws from his office.

The family was also aware that this year – 2011 – by the way – was a crucial year because it was a year before presidential elections in this land far far away from democracy. The family feared (still fears) that Esteban would launched a decree suspending those elections and ruining any hope for a change.

The laws were approved. Or they will be approved soon. The family is still unaware of the million consequences it might has in their lives; but they fear those consequences are more serious that they would had imagine. Most family members could lose their jobs soon, and all feel a bit reduced, a bit unable to speak their minds. It was just a sad, a very sad day for all of them.

With all future hopes being stolen; Christmas did not made much sense. But they looked at the family kids’ and they decided to celebrate Christmas for them; and to put their hopes in them instead of politicians and elections. Most of the woman made hallacas (traditional Venezuelan Christmas dish) but they forbid one, a Blogger, to come anywhere near the kitchen because she’s a kitchen nightmare. She retired, and decided to go out with his boyfriend to buy some gifts instead and when she came back; she sat at the computer and wrote this story.

A Gaita (Christmas music) is being heard in the background while she’s writing. She knows that everyone in her family daydreams about a day, were planning a Christmas celebration doesn’t turn into an emotional battle against the circumstances.

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