lunes, 12 de julio de 2010

The World Cup down here; and what the winners have taught us

The World Cup is quite an event in Venezuela, even though we have never classified to be in it (but this year we were closer). The way a World Cup is lived here, is something that emigrants often miss about home. Maybe is not unique, I haven’t yet seen how it is in other places, but there’s something special about a World Cup in Venezuela. Everyone makes their best effort to forget about Chavez and Crisis and Insecurity and a long list of etc and starts a necessary break; a well deserved (I think it is, you are free to criticize it in the comments section) break.

Everything starts a couple of months before the World Cup; with the popular Panini’ sticker album: I collected my first in 1994. I was in fourth grade of school and asked my mom to buy it. My mom hesitated “you sure you don’t want the Hello Kitty one?” – Nope, this wasn’t a girl – boy thing, this was something every kid at school was collecting and I wanted to be part of that. For a month or more, all the breaks at school were dedicated to exchange stickers and to announce everybody, in an arrogant air that you had finally completed Colombia or Brazil´ team.

This year my boyfriend refused to collect the album: “way too expensive” – he claimed. And it really was way too expensive. But my heart couldn’t stand to see his sight get lost every time we passed by a newspaper stand and saw the album and all those people changing stickers. So I thought: "in four years, who knows where I’m going to be?"… if everything goes according to the plan; in four years I could be married with kids and filled with responsibilities; totally unable to make unnecessary spends such as a silly sticker album. This could be our last chance to collect one of those and its only once every four years. The album came as a free gift with the newspaper. I bought several stickers envelopes and the fun began.

Everyone collects the stickers. Usually, and because of the price of the stickers, one family has one album and every member puts its best effort to complete it. The kids change stickers at school, the grown ups at work or at the university and on weekends, the whole family goes to shopping malls or around iconic newspaper stands to change repeated stickers they have with, well, just everybody. People all ages and sizes, strangers that would had never exchange a word if it wasn’t for the World Cup are now talking about how hard is to find the Brazilian shield sticker and such, while they’re checking a list with the missing numbers “I found five” – “Ok, then give me five of yours. Did you finish Germany?” – “Hell no… but Argentina is complete, next to Ghana and the States...Germany and Italy players are so hard to find…” and so on.

For a month, my “romantic dates” consisted on going on Sundays to one of those iconic newsstands to exchange some stickers. Next, we sat at a bakery to have breakfast and add our new stickers to our collection. During week days my boyfriend enjoyed exchanging more stickers at the office. I know, we are nerds, sports nerds, once very four years. We didn’t complete the album, but we certainly had a lot of fun trying to. A friend of mine who’s living in Mexico left a nostalgic message in my Facebook inbox: “No one seems to collect Panini here, at least not like people do in Caracas…”

Madness continues when the World Cup actually starts, a week after everyone has either completed the album or gave up about it. Employers know that during matches, no one is going to work for real. Even those workers that seemed to be very focused on their computers, are following the game thanks to a small window of their desk, or a tiny TV with a lousy signal in one drawer or a radio… which is the most common resource students have (or had, when I was a student) to follow the fame. Doesn’t matter if Algeria or Brazil is playing, the interest on the game is equal. Every single game of the World Cup must be carefully watched, followed and then commented with every single person you know. Doesn’t matter if this person doesn’t know a thing about football, this person will be out of your social circle if he/she doesn’t have an opinion on the match, doesn’t criticize arbitrary errors or praise the brilliant defense.

Some employers – the nice ones – simply stop being foolish, recognize that they can’t fight against culture and that no productive work can be made when Spain is playing a decisive match against Germany. So they go and install TV’s in the office. Some others simply let their employers go. Professors know that it’s hopeless to expect any student to pay attention or even to show up at class.

Soon, this group of irresponsible people, gather on squares (I counted at least three in Caracas) to see the match on big screens that a TV channel in partnership with a local government has installed for the events. Doesn’t matter if it’s raining or if the sun is burning everybody, or if the match is between countries you have never heard of before. If it’s 10 am or 2 Pm. Still, those squares are filled with fans who scream as if they were at the South African stadium.

Of course, some teams find in Venezuela more “borrowed” fans than others. Being this a nation of immigrants, almost everybody can find a distant DNA bond with an European or Latin American country. So the ones who are not watching the game in their offices, their universities, schools, restaurants, or at the squares; are still screaming as if they were at the stadiums in their exclusive immigrants club. The Italians descendants have the Italo – Venezolano. The Spanish – part of them at least – have La Hermandad Gallega. The Germans also have a place, but I just forgot the name (no, is not only Colonia Tovar), there is the Uruguayo club for Uruguay fans, descendants, and immigrants (on that issue, there is a sad note that I will probably comment in other entries); don’t remember if Argentina has also an iconic place but it do has a big community and many fans. Last, for Portugal, is the Centro Portugués. If you can’t proof any bond between you and a foreign country, you choose to go for Brazil because “it is closer to home”. Thus Venezuela is an unexpected place filled with Brazil’ team fans; that don’t have any connection with the neighbor country, except for football.

Inside, all those people giving their screams and hearts to foreign countries, players and dreams, secretly have a very nationalist aspiration: to collect some day, the Panini stickers of the Vinotinto (our football team that has never classified for a World Cup). We don’t expect them to win a single match in the actual World Cup. But we want them in the competition at least, for once. For God sake we are tired of collecting someone’ else’ stickers and we want the pictures of our own players covering a couple of pages of our Panini album.

In the meantime, my family like most Venezuelan families, appeal to a distant bond with a country who is actually competing and goes for it. Our bond, my bond, comes as no surprise. It is a bond close enough to actually claim a connection but distant enough to not be able to apply for an European Passport. I’m the fourth generation of Spanish immigrants (my great grandparents) who came to this country at the beginning of the XX century and stayed here ever since. This means that for the first time, the team we traditionally support: Spain, won a World Cup and we were insanely happy.

For the final match, my dad invited all my extended family and cooked an exquisite (and huge) paella. The rest of my relatives brought either wine or beer or more Spanish dishes. The kids wore the team uniform. Anyone dressed in orange was forbidden to enter my house. And when Iniestas marked that decisive goal on Sunday, everyone in my house screamed and jumped as if the TV screen could actually hear us. My mom even had tears in her eyes. My newborn niece got upset because of the incredible amount of noise we made. My uncle threw a glass of wine accidentally. My dad begged us, now that the tension was over; to taste his paella before it got cold.

While all this was happening, I was just sitting there, trying to see how the goal actually was because my family hysteric celebration didn’t allowed me to. But over all, I was smiling. Soon I knew I wasn’t smiling because this distant country were my roots reside won the World Cup. I don't even know the country, have never been there. At this point, Spain just represent good food we eat at some family lunch, good music we hear in weddings, good excuses to celebrate a World Cup final. I wasn’t smiling because Spain won. I was smiling because this team proved something. Something I need to know it was possible, beyond football and celebrations.

Spain proved that hard work and perseverance are keys to success. Such success is possible, even after losing the first match.

Spain proved that it is possible to win without sacrificing our values. Spain played, most of times, fair, clean, pretty. They didn’t try to cheat anybody. They didn’t change their style. Their strategy was not centered on putting unnecessary obstacles to the opponent. Their strategy was to go out there and play. In the final, it was obvious that Holland applied a very different strategy, a ruder one. They were hopping a dirty game could lead them to the World Cup but at the end it didn’t.

You might say this is just football but not only football has to be a fair play. All the games we play in life – because if you think about it life is just one match after another – should be fair. Those games should have some rules, above some ethics and we should follow them, expecting them to lead us to success.

But from Johannesburg to Caracas there is a huge distance. Most people here tend to think that if they don’t cheat, if they don’t look their way to commit a fraud, if they don’t bring home their piece of the cake, if they don’t sacrifice one value or another in order to sign a business; they will never have success in life. This World Cup is a slap in the face to all of them, football players or not… this is a message for all the corrupt politicians, cold businessman, cheater students; and it’s a message for you too, you and me as regular citizens. It’s a message for all of us, who pass a red light, who pay extra cash to have a privileged spot in a line, all of us who cheat the companies to pay less; and pretend we didn’t notice.

I think every Venezuelan that was watching the match learned something valuable that day. If you read the post, you can do the math and tell that this is a lot of Venezuelans learning something valuable: learning that it is possible to achieve success without corruption. It is a matter of another post but here is sufficient to explain that Venezuelans tend to value people who are more able to cheat the system to success that does who persistently try no to compromise their morals. Many people, fathers of family, generally “good” people, have told me that you can’t achieve anything here if you keep with that “correct attitude”, if you do not fool the rules, or sell your political ideals to the government in turn.

They could have also learned that same as Spanish struggled till the end to achieve that decisive goal, the clean, fair, ethic play is neither easy nor fast move but at the end, it could be far more rewarding.

This golden World Cup is telling us that maybe its not something corny or silly or impossible. Maybe, to have ethics, and moral, to actually do things right is not ridiculous, hypocrite, or a losers’ attitude. Maybe is even convenient. Maybe to do things the right way is the path to success and not the other. Maybe we can be like Spain. Or we can punch everybody in order to put them behind and achieve our own purposes and end only as a semifinalist. Maybe the world can work in a different way, can stop rewarding cheaters and start rewarding other kinds of people.

At least has done so in a World Cup and that’s a start.

And this is really why I’m smiling…

PS: After this long exhausting post – I’m very thankful if you took the time to read it all – My corny side wants to share this video with you. It’s another lesson Spain has left us (the captain at least). At the end, success is not about the goal you stopped and the golden cup you kissed. It’s about sharing the happiness by stealing a kiss from something a hundred times more valuable: your girl. Enjoy!

jueves, 8 de julio de 2010

Venezuela' impossible picture

A faithful reader asked me to provide here a "picture of Venezuela", o more likely, a "picture of Venezuelan life". I thought it was an easy task, and I promised to write an entry on the subject in the next few days. But I couldn't. Turns out that it wasn't so easy. In this blog I cannot provide a picture of Venezuelan life, I can only provide a picture of my life which is the same because I live in Venezuela and yet, is very different because there are many "Venezuelas" in just one nation, and even more ways to live in it.

Please take notice that I stated there are many Venezuelas in just one nation. There is a basic distinction between the term "country" and "nation", those terms are rarely synonyms. In Venezuela's case, they are almost synonyms, except for minority indigenous communities. "Nation" refers to a the cultural, common identity a certain collective has. "Country" its a political distinction. Then, one country can - and often has - many nations between its territory. A classical example of such arrangement is Spain. When I say there are many Spain in one country, I'm talking about those defined and very diverse cultural identities; but when I speak about many Venezuelas in one country, I'm not speaking about cultural identities. We are, for the most, the same nation with the same broad cultural identity. Being simplistic we all identify ourselves with the same National anthem, we all have some sort of cult to Bolivar, we all love to eat arepas, dance and value family and personal connections above everything else. Our dramatic diversity that makes many "Venezuelas" collide into one is not due to cultural identities, but to social, economical and political factors which marks a dramatic inequality.

Venezuelans are not culturally different, are economical, socially, politically different from one another. And they don't have slight differences, their differences are huge, dramatic, irreconcilable.

In order to keep my promise and the task this reader asked me to do, I'm going to offer a broad description of the many Venezuelas I see on a daily basis, of the many and very different and diverse countries I encounter every day in my daily life. Please notice that this description is not accurate, nor is complete. Is just my perception and it is the perception of many people but it is not based on facts, it does not gives you numbers and if by mistake I give you the idea of a number, please be aware that it could not be truth. This blog is more about personal perceptions and feelings than objectiveness. So I have never been worried of being fact straight. But I feel it is my responsibility to repeat over and over again that I am not being fact straight. I'm just writing from my life, to my head, from my heart, to the keys; from my opinion to the computer screen. I'm not checking even tho I have read those, any study.

Venezuela number one is rich and vibrant, is filled with some entrepreneurs, some of them luckily are very socially oriented but some others are not. This Venezuela lives in fine houses, goes to fine restaurants, sign up their kids in the best schools and send them to prestigious camps abroad during summer, and travels several times a year. Inside this Venezuela you hear the angst of a girl who is not going to be able to go to Miami four times a year like she used to due to CADIVI restrictions; leaving also greatest recommendations about restaurants in Paris and New York, about a Cruise in Norway or tells her memories on a recent U2 concert she saw in Rome. This Venezuela makes the bautism of a kid looks like an average wedding, with an exquisite menu and loads of music from a private orchestra after the brand new Catholic has go to sleep.
This Venezuela has never put a foot in a bus or in any public transportation form. They remember visiting the subway once, when they were kids, on a rare school trip and it was just from "Chacao" to "Altamira" station. Their parents gave them a brand new car when they turned 16. They crashed on a silly non sense accident while being drunk at 2 am and soon the car was replaced with another model, even newer. They love Venezuelan food and can stop their cars at the same hot dog spot where a construction worker is eating. They love to dance, same as everybody. But they think they are different, since they are educated, meaning they went to the greatest school and the greatest college one can think of. And payed a masters degree in Harvard. They complain a lot about the government but they don't do a thing. They think the trouble is the "Venezuelan culture", "the people" (meaning, poor people) who are not educated enough and thus vote for Chavez over and over again. Some of them make business with the government at day and sit with a whiskey to complain about restrictions of freedom at night. At the end, if things get really ugly, they will leave the country. Not only the young ones, but everybody, the whole family. They have either an European passport, or a green card, or the Canadian citizenship and if they don't have any of those; they have a lot of money to invest anywhere, and any country will say hi to that money and give them their legal residence status they want.
So in short they complain, and it is painful for them to leave this place. But they are the only ones who can do it in comfortable circumstances. Because of this, most of time, and despite their random complains, they are the Unworried Venezuela.

Venezuela number two is suddenly rich and revolutionary. I don't really know this Venezuela and I do not dare to judge it harshly. I don't have personal contacts to almost any of them, to be honest. But there are Mercedes and BMW filling our streets and you know, from the start, they do not belong to Venezuela number one. Venezuela number one has been rich forever, the great grandparent had some lands, the grandparent found a small business, the parent turned into a giant company and opened some other business as well and so on.. money makes money. And people with money have experience on having it, and treating it. In this country so filled with insecurity, Venezuela number one is not urged to show off as they used to do it, they prefer to be cautious and low profile. Venezuela number two shows off and you know they do it, because they have never had such amount of money and blind by it, they are desperate to show it off. Their looks quickly warn us of their origins. No intention of being racist here, but I'm trying to be more honest than politically correct on this note. Is not about how their physical looks are, what skin color, what race... is more about their way to dress, to move, to speak. Those signs are impossible to hide, scream that you are just entering the "high class" and you raised your bank account fast... thanks to the government and its magical ways to give money in return to political loyalty.
Some of them, deep inside, don't even like the government, but they are taking the most of it and same as Venezuela number one, if things get ugly, they will leave the country and find themselves with legal status at some fancy place in the developed world. With a Swiss bank account of mysterious origins, that's for sure. That is enough to give them the title of the Convenient Venezuela.

Venezuela number three its probably what you would call middle class. Even possibly high middle class. But as high as it might seem, this Venezuela doesn't know if its going to be able to pay the bills by the end of the month. Surely often interacts with Venezuela number one and they are often mistaken as if they were the same. But surely, they are not. Those two Venezuelas probably meet at the university, they probably even sent with great sacrifices, their kids to the same school. Venezuela number one and number three are friends but they sometimes can't share the same hobbies since Venezuela number three can give you a lot of references of restaurants in Paris, if any. And they have spend at least their college years taking the subway, just like anyone else. Venezuela number three is educated, just as much as Venezuela number one but it has done so under more difficult circumstances. Some of them live in good houses on their own, not as nice as Venezuela number one but good ones at least. But most live in good areas but very old buildings, or are the typical without a place on their own, living with the grandparents. Venezuela number three have the same aspirations as Venezuela number one but they cannot always achieve them.
They are against the actual situation, they feel it has going worse and do not fully understand this regime. Their ethics makes them unable to make business with the government but putting that aside they feel as isolated and desperate as Venezuela number one might feel from time to time. But unlike them they cannot leave the country, they have enough money to keep some standards in Venezuela without much luxury and nothing else. They don't have engrossing bank accounts which would allow them to make a new life anywhere else. And as the economical situation goes worse, they find it harder to be understood by their friends of Venezuela number one, who can continue making the expenses they no longer can. The unability to change their situation for the better and the fact that their situation has gone nothing than worse under this regime, gives them the title of "Frustrated Venezuela.

Venezuela number four is what you would call middle class or low middle class. Based on their income, they could be labeled as "poor" in the first world. They live in very modest appartments in suburbs or in insecure streets of the city, most close to the barrios (shanty towns). They are more likely to be connected with people living in those shanty towns than with people from the Venezuelas I described above. Most of them are educated. Venezuelas number one and three, the traditional high class, refuse sometimes to believe that they are some people even more educated beyond their limit social circuits. But those people actually exist. People from the Unworried Venezuela and some from the Frustrated Venezuela could label as "niche" (a label often used to insult people living in shanty towns and their ways of living) are people with university education sharing some class with their kids and working at your next cubicle. Primary difference is, they live "there" because they can't afford anything else. Venezuela number four lives the day by day, without country clubs or restaurants because they never were used to that, but their houses inside are very complete and comfortable with all the basic and not so basic goods including cable TV. They also complain of the regime but it is a different kind of complain. If you might, it is a most realistic complain. Its a complain based on how the government affects their daily life and what they can do to struggle and survive because it is rare that they consider leaving as an option. Many of them are also immigrants but not from Europe but rather from Colombia, or Peru, or Dominican Republic. They came to this country with great hopes and in very difficult circumstances and they are more likely to take every day as it comes and do not desperate as much as the previous Venezuelas would. This is the Realistic Venezuela.

Venezuela number five lives in Shanty towns (Barrios). But do not think I'm describing the last of the Venezuelas I have dared to characterize. They live in Shanty towns but their homes are rather comfortable and generally well built and they have the luxuries and same life style as Venezuela number four (including cable TV). Some of them, maybe most, I really don't know, are as well educated as the previous Venezuelas, maybe without the post degree abroad unless they got a scholarship. They are, as many living in barrios, the main victims of the insecure situation we are living under. They are used to hear gunshots much more often than any of the previous Venezuelas described above. They have enough income to be not consider poor since they can afford enough food and many extra luxuries and even trips. But same as Venezuela number three, they can't leave the place where they are living because they can't afford it. So they live "there". Some, might even don't want to leave the barrios but rather see the conditions inside their barrios improve: better services, more security. This is the Popular Venezuela. Some support the government, some have the same complain of the Venezuelas above but they are probably what must of us know as popular classes. They are the top of the pyramid of what we call "poor people" even if their life styles are more varied, rich and complicated than that word which only means the lack of something. They are probably the majority of Venezuelans.

Venezuela number six goes from the label poor to very poor. If you go to rural areas this Venezuela gets bigger and you can find a Venezuela number seven, and eight and nine and keep going down from there. While Venezuela number one wonder what cute restaurant are they going to pick for the traditional family lunch on Sunday; Venezuela number six and beyond wonders if they are going to be able to eat at all. While Venezuela number three is concerned about how are they going to pay the expensive private school so they kids can go to class with Venezuela number one, Venezuela number six and beyond is concerned about how far their kids can stay in school before they go to work to support the family (third grade? sixth grade? some high school if they are lucky?). Or maybe they just discard the education possibility once and for all. While Venezuela number two buys a new BMW in the name of the Revolution, Venezuela number six and beyond makes long lines begging for a tiny government benefit which can help them go through the day, always in return for political fidelity. Venezuela number four might worry for living in an apartment in a very insecure area but Venezuela number six and beyond trembles when its raining because their "house" (or a tiny square built with street signs, blocks if their lucky etc) might crash.

The rest of the Venezuelas are very concerned for the insecurity situation, and they have occasionally suffered its consequences from time to time. It is true that all Venezuela suffers the insecurity situation now but Venezuela number six and beyond has suffered always. And not from time to time but on a daily basis. The mothers of Venezuela number six and beyond have either their kids in jail, or death or frightened (with real reasons to be frightened) to see another family member in that situation. Life loses value as you go from one Venezuela to another and another. No one is completely safe, and many from the Venezuela number 1, and 2, and 3 have lost their life thanks to crime in the last few years. But no one is as unsafe as Venezuela five, six, and beyond. Venezuela six and beyond doesn't have other choice but to be named by the word I hate: "Poor Venezuela" because they truly lack of so many things...

So there you go, at least six different Venezuelas in just one country. All six with a very similar cultural identity and - do not be amazed, I believe it is truth - many similar values. But different situations, different perceptions and therefore a different behavior. And none of this Venezuelas understand each other.

Venezuela number one can't understand the show off quality of Venezuela number two, nor even can't understand why Venezuela number three can't share many of their hobbies. As for the rest of the Venezuelas, Venezuela number one only counts them as a distant reference, as "those people". Venezuela number three doesn't understand the great quality of life Venezuela number one enjoys at the same time it condemns the political accommodations of Venezuela number two. As for the rest of the Venezuelas it might have connections with number four but nothing beyond, most of them have never entered a barrio and they speak out a lot, but they have no idea how they live. Venezuela number four sees Venezuela number one as super stars and can't tell the difference between Venezuela number one and two. It might make connections with Venezuela 3 but gets frustrated because of their difference in their life style. And now they have left the barrios, it is hard for them to enter there unless they have relatives. They have a middle class mind, but more humble origins they fight to reject.

Venezuelas 5, and 6 and beyond don't know nor even understand the rest, they know they live a very different reality, from another world, and find their complains, those of high classes of what dress to buy and wether if I can afford this trip... simply amusing. They feel resentment and really, who can blame them? They will be never be able to leave the barrios under this system, but highest classes has forced them to believe they don't work hard enough. They have been historically excluded from the system and this regime has promised to make things better but it has been only a promise and not a real improvement.

All Venezuelas goes like this. Each one in their own exclusive and little inner circle, misunderstanding and rejecting the rest of the Venezuelas and ignoring how alike they are. Unable to know their life styles, unable to understand each and everyone's need, unable to reach any agreement. Venezuela is one country with many people that just go at their own, with their particular life.

So how can you provide a picture of the country in that situation? I cannot give you a picture. The most I can give you its a collage and you will not find any harmony between the pictures that compound it. The best I can give you is my picture.

It is no secret that I fully belong to Venezuela number three, because of my childhood, my education and my connections to Venezuela number one. If you judge by the place I live I might be more close to Venezuela number four. My work has allowed me to share a lot with Venezuelas 5, 6, 7 and beyond but this has not been enough to fully understand them. So I'm somewhere in the middle of social sandwich made with ingredients that do not combine and therefore it doesn't taste good. I'm the white cheese combined with the turkey pastrami that only tastes good if its combined with Dutch cheese and mayo deli but instead of mayo deli has a cheap tomato sauce... I'm just there, and I'm inviting you to judge not Venezuela but my life and how this regime influence its daily course. I wish I could be more broad, more general and more inclusive. But only this circumstances I really can't, and it will be irresponsible to pretend doing so. I write from my particular situation, I can't write anything else.

Of course all this is not acceptable. The fact that I can't understand the rest of the Venezuelas around me is not acceptable. This worries me a lot and I have tried to change it but I have not succeed, and its probably because I haven't try hard enough. But it is a tragedy when one feels like a stranger, like a foreigner in your own country because you have no understanding of the comrade walking next to you. We distrust each other and present our different visions of Venezuela and "reality" as if they were the whole Venezuela and the real state of things. No matter how "incorrect" it might sound I must be honest and say that this is so blurry that I cannot blog about reality, beyond my own. And I cannot be more accurate in my stories, beyond my thoughts, feelings, interpretations, emotions around such story.

I was hopping this post could clear your mind, but I fear it might confused you even more. I know it wasn't what you expected. But my hope is that your read of this post and of many others enlightens you and me, in order to start doing what most human beings has proven so far, to be incapable to do: fully and truly understand each other.

jueves, 1 de julio de 2010

Ice Cubes

My cousin who married a couple of years ago its dennied to have children until this government changes. The whole family thinks her decision is quite riddiculous and non sense but she just doesn't think this is a fair place to bring any new life.

Another friend has refused to buy any property and he criticizes everyone who do so - "Why are you going to buy an appartment here, if the government can take it away from you?" - He claims although none of his friends have lost their apparments but its also true that one had a trouble with a land. He will pay a rent until this government ends, and only by then, he will consider of buying something on its own.

My grandmother just died and the next natural step is to sell the big house since no one lives in it anymore. But we have been warn that no one is buying big houses like those now for the price they worth. We would have to sell it at a much smaller price. But even if we do manage to sell it, an uncle claimed "What for?" - The money earned with the sell would be split between many families and it will be a lot of money for keeping it in a bank account (having more than 30.000 Bolívares in a bank account is very risky nowadays, since the government is taking over many banks and doesn't return more than 30.000 to the former customers. If you had more than that, you will never see that money again) but not enough for buying any good such as an apparment or a car. Like I have also explained on many entries before, we Venezuelans are also unable to change our money to foreign currency and to take it to a less risky country. So we are coming close to decide not to sale the house until this government changes.

Many people are leaving the country. Specially from my generation. I have four close friends abroad already and a fifth one is leaving the country in September. I'm not counting my boyfriend' friends abroad whom are also many, and all the high school and university acquantainces, plus relatives. As a result you have many broken families and many "grandparents in a box": grandparents who only see their grandchildren via a computer screen, thanks to Skype and Web Cams. Those grandparents in a box are stucked to a promise their children once made to them: they promise they will come back as soon as "the conditions allow it". Meaning, until this government changes.

So I live in a frozen society. In a society fillled with broken expectations and delayed plans attached to impossible events. In a society that does not blink, does not move, does not do anything to improve because it sees every initiative being stopped by the Revolution. And this society has made no mistake on thinking that, because the Revolution can stop every initiative and in the road, creates a fear enough to stop even, ilussions. Once a society has no ilussions, has seen itself unable to do so; I don't think there is much left. We are nothing without dreams. And dreams postponed and subjected to impossible conditions are not dreams at all. Those are only ice cubes. Ice cubes freezing us all.