martes, 28 de septiembre de 2010

Twittelections

We had to wait eight hours to get the results of the legislative elections. Readers are probably thinking: “What did you guys do during those eight hours, besides eating your nails?” Well; we looked at a door for eight hours – an exhausting but now iconic image that Globovision brought us -, knowing that inside that door where the CNE authorities counting the votes and that they could go outside any minute to announce the results. When looking at the door became, well, boring; we twitted. Venezuelans dragged their anxiety publishing messages of 140 characters or less. We twitted a lot: All ten global trending topics of Twitter, during Sunday night belonged or where about Venezuelan’ legislative elections.
So, what all those Tweets were about?

Mostly, they were jokes. Yes, J-O-K-E-S. One of the very few things I love about Venezuelans is that we know how to answer to adversities with a smile. People mistakenly believe we don’t take anything seriously, but we do. Joking is not our way to reduce seriousness or importance of an issue, but quite contrary, joking is our way to deal with it, to make it more visible, and at the same time, more bearable. Joking is surviving. If you let me choose, I prefer to survive with a smile than with a grumpy – serious face I’m forced to make because of the “seriousness” the situation requires.

Someone started a label called “#cosasquepasaranantesdelboletin” and it soon turned viral, becoming the number 1 trend topic on Twitter for at least a few minutes. This label translates to “things that will happen before the electoral bulletin” and we used it to make general jokes about impossible things (like Alice in Wonderland “think of seven impossible things before breakfast”). I was so tense, and anxious, and angry… but those tweets made my night. As a tribute to all those serious jokers, I’m bringing you translations of some memorable “#cosasquepasaranantesdelboletin”:

1. Venezuela will be part of a World Cup
2. Venezuela will host a World Cup
3. RCTV gets its signal back
4. I’ll be old enough to vote (posted by a 15 year old)
5. I’ll get a raise
6. Gustavo Dudamel will straighten his curls
7. Julio Borges will have two eyebrows
8. Chavez will stop liking the red colour
9. Power will be out, the results will come out but we won’t find it out until tomorrow noon
10. We will all have to go to work
11. I’ll be president of the Republic
12. “He will speak to me, we will date, we’ll marry and have kids together”
13. Paris Hilton will become a nun
14. “Robert Pattison will be mine”
15. Silvester will eat Piolin. And Tom will finally eat Jerry
16. Lady Gaga will have a “Good Romance” – Plus, she will dress with jeans, a white simple t-shirt and sneakers. – Plus she will decide if she wants Alejandro, Roberto or Fernando (There were loads of Tweets about Gaga under this label)
17. Lindsay Lohan will spend one day without f… it up
18. The trilogy “Tibi Potter and the mistery of the Bulletin” will be published
19. Only God knows the “cosasquepasaranantesdelboletin”

Last but not least, the funniest part, foreigners wondering what does that weird task meant:

“It's from Venezuela, dude... > @Aye_Pistol_Pete: i really wanna kno what does #cosasquepasaranantesdelboletin mean...”

“#IWannaKnowWhy they got this long ass #TT #cosasquepasaranantesdelboletin like wut fu*k is tht about it aint even english !”

When the bulletin finally came out, a part of us were secretly sorry. #cosasquepasaranantesdelboletin was over. But Twitter will never be the same after that night. Venezuela will never be the same after that night.

domingo, 26 de septiembre de 2010

My election day post (Done at 2:27 am)

2:27 AM. Madrugonazo!!!. Finally, just when five trending topics on Twitter are about this election...Told you I'll wake up. CNE launches it first bulletin, it says it's only partial (After more than six hours! only partial! Amazing how ineffective this high-tech voting system is) but it shows an non reversible tendency. The results: PSUV (Chavistas) got 90 seats, MUD (Opposition) got 59 seats, PPT got 2 seats. According to the MUD, they got 52% of the popular vote, more than Chavismo. Yet, as electoral rules are today, Chavismo is comfortable with more seats. Still, Chavismo does not hold the 2/3 majority they expected. I'll probably post about it in a few hours. For now it's over, off to bed... good night

11:50 PM. The cacerolazo ended as fast as it begun. CNE hasn't launched any results yet and this girl has decided to go to sleep at Cinderella time. Tomorrow, my day starts as early as 6:00 am. Believe me, when CNE finally launches the official results, I will know. Either someone at home will wake me up, or the fireworks, screams, cacerolazos or whatever will do the rest. Besides, I doubt I'll have a profound, deep, good sleep; given the tension I feel inside. If you are reading, see you later! (hopefully soon).

11:32 PM. A "cacerolazo" (for the newbies: people hitting kitchen tools as a way of protest) has started in my neighborhood. I feel tempted to join, but my six-month old niece is staying here and has finally fell sleep. So I will not. We are all tense, irritated, angry and tired of this waiting. But I can't say I didn't knew, as unfair as it is, it always happen and early in the day I assured you we wouldn't going to know a thing before midnight. I was right.

11:13 PM. Both candidates and leaders from government' party: PSUV and opposition political alliance: MUD (goes for "Mesa de la Unidad") refuses to speak on TV. Not even a message of tranquility "lets wait for the CNE results" type of message as they did on past elections. Reason? They probably don't want the "carometro" (read 8:46 Pm message) to give any information. So people are now trying to apply the "carometro" to reporters from both the only opposition channel (Globovision) and the main government one (VTV). But I can't read anything on those faces, do you? This "carometro" story gives me enough material to write a magic realism novel.

- Speaking of something else: My page has had more than 300 visitors today and that's a lot for a site that usually gets about 50 visitors a day, but no one has left a comment so I wonder if someone is actually reading, anyone out there?-

11:00 PM. I'm still waiting for the official results. Most voting centers closed at 6:00 PM. Our electoral system is almost completely automatized. And yet, five hours later, we still have no results. There is no excuse for it, and this is totally unacceptable. Be aware that exit polls are not trustworthy; so don't look for them. My boyfriend is off to bed, well I doubt he's really sleeping but trying to, tired of waiting. And I'm about to follow his example. I just heard a truck passing by playing a very loud music - someone celebrating? - but couldn't figure what that was all about.

9:42 Pm. Still no results. Some voting centers are still open, but most are not so CNE should at least say something; and the opposition members too. But the opposition has announced they will give a press conference after the CNE speaks out, I'm not sure what could that mean. I refuse to give credit to any rumors. Twitters have stopped giving numbers and they are now asking CNE to launched the results. We all wonder, what are they waiting for?

8:46 Pm. No results still. Twitters are driving me crazy. The "carometro" says there could be good results for the opposition. For those new in here, "carometro" ("face-metter") is to look at the faces of the political leaders on TV to see if they "seem" happy or sad. We know they already know, but is not legal to say anything before the CNE launches the official results. Sounds odd, but since official results take too long, the "carometro" its the only tool we have to know what's happening before midnight. And it has proven to be effective. This blog is saying something. With Carometros, Bloggers, and Twitters; we'll have to wait and see

8:07 Pm. Two hours after the official closing of the voting tables and still no results. Considering our electoral system is automatized, this is an scandal. But like I said earlier, we are accustomed to not expect any result before midnight, and even then, CNE usually don't give us all the results but only an "irreversible tendency". Rumors come and go, my phone hasn't stop getting calls with the same question "What do you know?" - And my answer "So far, nothing but Twitter says..." Since Twitter escapes from CNE regulations, everyone is posting numbers they supposedly got from a friend of a friend who has an uncle who works at the CNE or belongs to a political party etc...I don't know which tweet I should trust and which tweet I should not. In the meantime, the tension is killing me. Working on my graduate applications? Yeah... right, What was I thinking?

7:32 Pm. Most voting tables should be closed by now. We are waiting for the results and rumors come and go. History tell us we won't get any official results until midnight at least, so this is going to be a long, exhausting night. I'm off to work on my graduate school applications (or at least try to focus my mind on anything else)

3:41 Pm - It's raining in Caracas, hope that doesn't stops voters from doing what they have to.

2:19 Pm Another delayed but important news: three members of an NGO called Voto Joven (means Young vote) were detained and their laptops were seized, without a judicial order. This happened early this morning.

2:14 pm Some news: our general prosecutor says everything is normal... except for the death of one person at Las Clavellinas, in Miranda State, in hands of the army in charge of the protection of the public order. If you speak Spanish, here is the video

11 am Done, I voted. Here's the proof: my purple - inked finger. If you have a blog, post a picture of your inked finger as well to call others to vote. In Venezuela voters are marked as cattle... go figure. I'll come back again if anything comes up.

Blogging from inside a voting center

Follow Miguel at Devil's Excrement . He will be constantly updating this post during the day, showing us a microcosms of how elections are in Venezuela. Now I'm out. When you read this, this blogger will be going to her voting center.
-There is no rest -

PLEASE! VOTE! NOW!

I just woke up and I'm getting ready for going to my voting center. I'll post the traditional picture of my inked finger when I come back. I'll also keep posting if anything extraordinary comes up. This blog is read all over the world, by foreigners but also by Venezuelans, must of them living abroad. This message goes to you, if you are Venezuelan, no matter where you live, please dedicate a couple of minutes of your day and go to vote. You are still a Venezuelan citizen even if you don't live here and it is your responsibility to act like one. You might say "the Parlantino is not so important" but on this election; that Chavez has turned into another plebiscite about him; every single vote counts, every single vote can send a strong message, no matter if its a vote for the assembly, indigenous vote or the Parlantino. So be responsible, mature, adult, think for once about the country you left; and specially about those you care who still live here and will live here forever. If you care, please, please, I beg you, stop reading and go to your nearest Venezuelan consulate and VOTE. I mean NOW!!!
- Don't click, there is no rest -

sábado, 25 de septiembre de 2010

"Is Cadivi a Scholarship?" or question people ask to google, and expect my Blog to answer

People put the following questions in the Google search engine and they ended up in my blog. Most of the questions are rather odd, but I hope next time Google takes you to my blog, you truly find what you are looking for.

- Google question 1: Is Cadivi a scholarship?
Hell, no. You are not even close. We have a very strict foreign currency exchange system. Common citizens are allowed to spend only 400 dollars a year on Internet expenses and no more than 2500 dollars a year on traveling ones (it can be less, depends on the destiny of your trip). Cadivi is the system that authorizes you to use those dollars.

- Google question 2: why does hugo chavez wear red?

Because the red is the color commonly used for both right and left oriented regimes that limit democracy (think Soviet Union, think Nazi German…); it has been also used by left oriented guerrilla groups (FARC) and communists parties worldwide. The red is the color of power and conflict. The red is a color hard to ignore, and easy to be bothered by it. So it can often be a smart choice in politics or any other scene where you want to stand up.

- Google question 3: What does vinegar and toothpaste can do?
Well, I don’t know the scientific explanation but if you ever find yourself into a situation where a tear gas has been dropped, the smartest decision you can make is to either smell vinegar or put some toothpaste under your eyes and nose. Your eyes will cry less and the effect of the tear gas will also be more bereable. I personally prefer toothpaste instead of vinegar, has proven to be more effective for me (and I’m not a fan of vinegar smell, so maybe that’s why)

- Google question 4: what are the forbidden jobs for Venezuelan women?
As far as I know, none.

- Google question 5: how to accept Cadivi credit cards?

I don’t know how to answer you this question. Either you decide to accept them or you don’t. I have no idea of the troubles international business can encounter with our credit cards…

- Google question 6: reasons why Venezuelans study abroad?
Well, we have different reasons. In my case the graduate offers for my career are scarce plus I want to have the experience of studying abroad, in a different language, with people all over the world. A degree earned abroad can also translate to better payment and better job opportunities.

- Google question 7: a list of things you can buy in Venezuela with one dollar
Hmmm, depends on the exchange rate. You could buy either a coke, a juice, the newspaper, several metro tickets, a few bus rides, bread and that’s pretty much it.

viernes, 24 de septiembre de 2010

Egocentric, Hypocritical and Stupid

If we lose this elections (and chances are that we will), many people will start blaming the voters. We will see history repeating, the same speech I have heard on every election I have lived, except for the only one we ever won. I will heard, see, and read many people from the middle class whining about belonging to a such undemocratic country where its citizens are simply stupid enough to vote for the Revolution. I will see many people packing their bags to leave because “they can't stand this behavior”. I will hear that “the problem is with the culture, this barrio culture Venezuelan have”. One uncle/friend/columnist/academic/blogger will raise his glass and say “We have the government we deserve”

I have held the same speech, I said the same things when a Constitution Reform was approved allowing the president – and everyone holding a public charge such as governors and majors – to postulate on elections as many times and for as long as he wishes. I felt so bad of that result, that I quickly started blaming every single Venezuelan who voted different than me, calling them stupid, ignorant, irresponsible and so on. By doing so, I quickly forgot that I'm a Venezuelan as well and I'm not so different from the ones I blamed, the “culture” equally runs inside me. And if by some reason I'm “better”, I'm not doing anything to improve present conditions and turn the rest of the citizens into “better people”. I was just laying in bed, crying and covered with blankets, blaming the world for my own mess.

So lately, I have developed a certain allergy to such speech. I now consider it EGOCENTRIC, HYPOCRITICAL, and STUPID.

Egocentric because the ones who hold such speech consider themselves to be better than average Venezuelans. They usually made such claim based on the fact that they received (and took advantage) of a better education than average Venezuelans. I graduated from a private, prestigious school and then went to another private and even more prestigious university to earn a licenciado degree. Chances are that I will go to graduate school abroad to earn a masters, and then possibly a doctorate. Given my all time nerdy enthusiasm, I have a wide knowledge on a variety of subjects, specially history and political theory. I'm, without question, a cult and educated person. But does that makes me “better”?

Many educated people have voted for Chavez throughout this years, truly believing they were doing the right thing. Many educated middle or high middle class people have also voted for Chavez to make some juicious contracts with the government while assuring at social cocktails that they were oppo's. Many educated people claim to be against Chavez just because “he's a communist” or “I can't travel as much as I used to and my properties are in danger”... those are not “smart” reasons to give a vote to a candidate or proposal. If you are so educated, you could dig deeper, just saying... And many non educated people (which are usually the same people who didn't have resources to afford the education we brag about, but we often forget that) have proven to be smarter than educated ones. That's probably because

1) their creativity and their audacity remained intact given their lack of access to the formal and sometimes limited educating system. They are not afraid to make mistakes.
2) They are more humble, since they don't have a degree to boast about.
3) They found their own ways to learn, outside of the system. They probably could not learn as much as you and I, but they did learned a good deal.

Also if you are so educated then you are probably aware that many totalitarian regimes were possible in highly educated society (I'm not thinking about Franco obviously but does Nazi regime sound familiar?).
Hypocritical because some Venezuelans critique Venezuelans as if they were not the same kind. Venezuelans are this, and Venezuelans are than, but I'm not this or that. Or they do this or that but I don't. I'm not very religious, but in my catholic school they always remind us of a story of Jesus were he challenged a group to trow a stone to a prostitute, if anyone in the group could claim to be out of any sin. It's the same situation. No one is perfect, and no one can claim to be a perfect citizen. No one has always made the right political decision. We say Revolution supporters are this and that, but we pay to obtain a drivers license among many other documents, we ignore red lights every time we can, we trow garbage on the street when no one is looking or our cigarets despite looks. We miss treat employers, specially domestic ones, demanding from them more than what they can give us for the ridiculous amount we pay them. And then we travel to a foreign country and behave as model citizens just to come back home talking about the numerous advantages of the first world.

Stupid because such argument: to pretend to be better people than the ones who voted for Chavez, only leave us to intolerance, to intolerance, division and nothing else. Explaining an adversary electoral result based only in the behavior and will of its voters, ignores the broad context on which an election occurs and that a vote is not always a decision of a conscious will. More often, for our case and theirs, the decision comes from the heart, the decision arise from our most primitive emotions and instincts. When it comes to politics, we do not make rational decisions. I know this is extremely inconvenient: that something as delicate as politics lays like love in our hearts. But it is just how it is. This is not Disney Land and this not, for sure, your political theory book. Maybe this guy voted for Chavez because he's one of the few lucky ones who received benefits from a social mission and he was never considered by anyone before; maybe he voted for Chavez because he doesn't see the opposition as a viable option, maybe he's in a Chavista environment and from his scale of values it just seems right, maybe he's in love with Chavez and feels a religious fervor and reverence to Chavez. Yes, he might be in love. This political process has a religious component we can't ignore.

This religious component will not vanish just because. People will not “wake up” just because the government made a mistake or even a dozen mistakes. If things worked like that, none of us would be catholic by now, but most Venezuelans are, right? You might say “oh but this is different”. I think it is not, I think Chavismo is a religion. Sociologist have spoken about political religion for decades so I'm not saying anything new. I'm just stating It will require a lot of time and work and alternative options.

If you don't consider all this, and pretend your political opponent is just misinformed, ignorant or stupid; you are denying any way of negotiation or understanding from the start (and those are the keys of a democratic process). Chavez holds a language of hate, excluding anyone who opposes him, and calling this electoral campaign a process to “demolish” the opposition. And simply accusing of ignorance the ones who vote for him, you are acting just the same, paying with the same coin. I'm not saying acting like this is not fair, it probably is. I'm just saying that answering with an intolerant behavior to another intolerant behavior is stupid, since it not leads to any solution. Solutions sometimes compromise our ideals and can leave us to think on ways we never consider before. If you are not able to do that, if you are not able to even try to start understanding your political opponent, no matter how hard it is, if you just limit yourself to call it stupid or commie or ignorant instead; you are being the most stupid person ever. Your only way out is to leave the country to keep holding your stupid speech in the comfortable first world or lock in your house crossing your arms. I think that, despite if we stay or not, because some of us will inevitable leave just for looking for better life conditions, it is wiser to work to understand the other. At least try. No matter how painful and hard it can be, because believe me it is.

So if we lose this elections (and we probably will), I will blame no one. I will only consider it as the probably course (not curse) of a country which has had so many events, good and bad decisions, deep economical divisions, ignorance and stupidity (in general, and not exclusive of some groups) that has lead us to this. We don't deserve it, no one does. But we can do it better, because even the most stupid people inside the most stupid regimes have manage to make smart decisions. But we need to lower our heads first, to start considering the other, and to stop listing our degrees every time we introduce ourselves. We should be better than that. Just saying...

martes, 21 de septiembre de 2010

Elections, Harry Potter and me

A couple of years ago, I told you the story of the controversial series of events leading to a very particular election: a "referendum revocatorio" on which voters were asked to decide if they wanted Mr. Chavez to stay in power or not.I clearly remember that day. It was the first time I was able to vote in my life. Before voting, I had to wait eleven hours in line (yes, 11!) which allowed me to read more than half of the 5th book of Harry Potter.

By the beggining of this book, Harry Potter is the only one who has seen the dangeours, killer magician Voldermort alive. But the Mister of Magic, fearing a political convulsion as a result of this frightening and very serious information, refuses to believe Harry and starts a campaign to descredit him instead. Dumbledore, principal of Howarts (Harry's school) stands at the other side of this political battle, by believing Harry and supporting his statement. The minister sends one of its employees: Dolores Umbridge, to Howarts to work as a proffesor of "Defense against Dark Arts"; forcing Dumbledore to accept it. Dolores' classes are everything but "Defense against dark arts", a master pretending that no danger really exists, and therefore, no practical defense against dark arts should be taught; instead his classes are filled with pink color as her office and beautiful readings. The metaphor can be fully applied to this government, which has always used propaganda as part government' policy, in an attempt to hide the real, dangerous and compromising events.

But the paralelism goes further: Dolores Umbridge, under commands of the minister of Magic and without respecting Dumbledore's authority, quickly becomes "Howarts General Inquisitor". As Inquisitor, Dolores creates all sort of rules and specially prohibitions, detains and tortures students who believe in Harry and Dumbledore and on top of that, removes Dumbledore of his charge.Harry, united with a group of friends, create a resistance movement called "Dumbledore's Army". The students involved sign proudly a document which acredites as members of such group. Dolores discovers this list and prosecutes the signers. Pretty much like our government did, with the signatures of the opposition members that made this 2004' referendum possible, prosecuting all them as they were criminals just for signing a petition. Then, somehow (in a way that is too long to explain); the truth is finally found out by all the Magicians, in a way – way too obvious to be ignored, the minister aknowledge Harry's version to be true; and both Harry and Dumbledore see their prestiges back. During a boring Dolores Umbridge' examination, a couple of trouble-makers twins decided to sabotage the exam, using magic fireworks; the sign with all Dolores' rules crashes and all students find themselves free and happy again.

Back to our business, on August, 2004, I waited 11 hours in the line as I coincidentially read this story. I distracted myself finding paralelisms and let the general mode of the line, mostly composed by oposition minded people contagied me. I could already see the fireworks and the joy, once the elections gave us our favorable result. From there, it would be true that Voldermort – all our troubles – do exist and we should work against them efectively, not with plain political propaganda trying to hide our diseases.

After voting, I waited outside my voting centre to witness the voting scrutiny. In my center, oposition obviously won and the results were cheered by all of us present. But when I came back home, my sister was in tears. The TV already had announced a result which proved my voting center was not representative of my country at all: Chavez won. This desperate attempt of the opposition to overtrow Chavez' regime, actually made it stronger, confirming him as the ultimate and most popular reader of the country. Just in case we need another reminder of this heartbreaking truth.

Then, inmediately after the CNE launched the official results and my sister was draining herself into tears; Enrique Mendoza appeared on TV. He claimed those official results were not true: "We won – He said. "Now, what we should do?" - My sister asked me while the electoral fraud was being declared. To this day, I don't know if those elections were manipulated or not, all I know if that I never trusted an election since then. This fraud claim broke my trusting system, and the trusting system of many others.

Some protest followed, but this fraud was never proved. As a protest to the CNE (Our electoral Institution) refusal to recognize what the opposition claimed to be "the official results"; the majority of the opposition decided to suspend their participation off the political life; in particular, the legislative elections that were celebrated a few months later. A big part of the opposition also refused to be part of the regional elections celebrated about a year after that. As a result, all the political institution created to balance president' weight, were taken entirety by government parties. The assembly, in particular, was officially declared as a "red one"

Since then, everything has been eassier for the government and harder for the opposition. Many laws have been aproved without consulting to anyone who differs from the government. Since then Chavez has earned "special" powers to legislate by decree twice, has disrespect electoral results, the number of political prisioners has increased same as many prohibitions. Our Dolores Umbridge has instaled an exchange system control, has closed loads of radio stations and one major TV Channel, has threatened the church and the universities, has granted special rights and priviledges to those goverment' supporters, has covered many corruption scandals and has forbid any opposition demonstration to come near any government' institution.

And all this is due, of course, to the non democratic nature of Chavez and his comrades. But it is also due to us. To all of us who, unable to move forward after the confusing events of August, 2002; commited a political suicide by refusing ourselves to take part of the few spaces that still were left for us. I did it. We did it. I can't blame my parents or my grandparents or the politicians for that. I could had left the bed and go to vote that date but I did not. Every citizen' is responsible for its own vote, you can't pose a lack of will or "being convinced by the party" as valid argument to expell us of all responsabilities. It is not a valid argument.

Six years later, new legislative elections have been called to renew this nefastous and shamefull red assembly. The opposition is now determined to be part of it, but has encounter more restrictions than the ones it had in 2004. For example, if the opposition gets the majority of votes, we won't have the majority of seats at Parliament. Crazy, but true. This red assembly that has caused so much harm, was made by you and me. By us. We let it happen, by believing abstinence was a valid form of protest inside a non democratic regime, one where you must always fight with every resourse they give you, one where you must take every single opportunity available.

So I'm going to vote this weekend. I will never stop voting again. Inside or outside democratic regimes, voting is sometimes the only tool we have left, the only resource to change our realities, even if its just a little bit. Given today's restrictions, I'm not expecting favorable results. But I just know the assembly will not be completely red and that, in these circumstances, is an incredible progress. It's a seed, an oportunity to start ammending our mistakes and facing our responsabilities. Little by little, day by day, without turning back. Someday everyone here will see Voldermort, including the Revolution itself. It will became too obvious that this Revolutionary model does not work and that we need a different Venezuela. But we need to become different Venezuelans first. And we start doing so by voting, showing some democratic behavior, even tho we don't have the luxury of being in a democracy.

WARNING - this post was published inmediately after it was written, it has not been re- read nor edited. It probably has more mistakes than usual so my apologies, I hope I can fix it as soon as possible-

jueves, 16 de septiembre de 2010

"Home" or my wish list for the upcoming elections

This blog has spent some time without updates because , for being honest, I have been disconnected from reality. I did had time to update it, but my life has come more personal and less political, and with those turns is hard to find “hot topics” for blogging on a blog like this. I know elections are coming. The air is out there, announcing it. A few people explained me on the streets on my way to work “how to vote” (for their party of course, but there’s nothing wrong with that). Predictions come and go, and they are all saying different things. There are people who are feeling optimist, others not so much and the rest are just skeptical.

Me, on the other hand, everyday, after receiving “how to vote” instructions, I enter my office and life goes on in a very different course. I currently have two jobs: one, my regular job which is a great job but not always easy and not always relaxing. The other, consist on applying to grad school. I thought the GRE was the worse part but it isn’t. It’s amazing how much time you spend just writing to professors of different universities to see if their research interest and yours can fit, and if is really worthy to apply to that particular school after all. Every email I send takes me at least half an hour, and often much more than that. It requires to carefully research throughout a particular professor’ profile in the Web site of the program, then read at least quickly a few papers he wrote and if everything looks promising, writing an email. But, the email is in English. So I first write it in a Word Document and carefully check for grammar errors, I’m still so inexpert in this language. If is possible or if I really, really like the idea of working with this particular professor, I send the document to my boyfriend or any “victim” available to do a second check. Only then, I finally send the email. And If I get a response and I must answer back, the same lengthy process starts all over again. I’m always especially concerned of sounding rude, over polite or just plain awkward due to my obvious inexperience of using English on a daily basis.

So between that and writing my statements of purpose, and working and having some social life if I’m lucky, I really don’t have the chance to develop a strong opinion regarding this upcoming election. I don’t have “predictions”, not even “sceneries”. I don’t have anything smart to say about the latest news, whatever they are. I can only provide you a feeling, and a consequential list of wishes.

I have no reason why, but I feel optimistic. Maybe I am unaware of our “realistic possibilities” but despite how misinformed I have been lately; I don’t always attend to “rational reasons” (sounds redundant, I know). Perhaps it’s because I’m female, but I do pay a great deal to my intuition, to this inner something telling me something good might happen. I think I told you this story already, but I met my current boyfriend at a party I initially didn’t want to go. At the end I did, and a friend kindly offered me to take me home afterwards (I don’t have a car). At 3 am, after a few cuba’ libres, some dances and loads of conversation with a guy I have never seen before; I decided to decline my friend’ offer of taking me home and going with this guy instead. The rational me would have never done that, she would have never sit in the car of a guy she just met but I got a good feeling about it. If you consider that it has been two and half years since that and that he’s looking at me as a write this; then you cannot question that my intuition was right. I have the same senseless, fighting against the “rational” me in regards to this election.

I don’t know how many votes we are going to get. How many seats opposition, or independents, or the government’ party is going to earn. Neither I have any idea of how Chavez’ is going to react to the results. All I know is that things are going to be different. The National Assembly will look different, even if is just slightly. And that’s just a start, a place to start to make my own wishes, for this upcoming assembly, and the upcoming country that might arise with it. So to those who can make this assembly look different I have a few proposals to make, in no particular order:

1. Next election, or in a couple of more elections, or in five years or at some point of my life; I want to vote for who I want. I want to vote for the person I feel it deserves it, for the person I believe in, I have research about and I got the feeling it will make a good job. I want to vote for candidate “X” because it is certainly better than candidates “Y”, “R” and “Z”. I don’t want to vote for candidate “X” because votes are split between him and a Revolutionary- Chavez – sheep candidate; so candidate “X” is really my only alternative.

2. I’m applying now for a Masters. But next, I might be applying for a doctorate and when that happens I don’t want to be in the angst I have right now, were my CADIVI dollars are insufficient to pay for the graduate school abroad application requirements. It’s hard for the graduate schools abroad to get this. But it shouldn’t be hard for Venezuelans to understand that restrictions are hardly the key for professional progress and all the kinds of progress you can think of. I know that to stop the control exchange system could leave us to an economical disaster, but please just try to make an alternative.

3. Please consider the “other”. There are many “others” in Venezuela: there are people living in rural areas and people living way inside the “barrios”, and people from the middle class and, and, and, and… and guess what? They are all Venezuelan and they are as wise and educated as you are. Listen to they want to say. Do not ever refer to them as “these people”. Do not pretend you know exactly how they feel, and exactly what they need. Ask them first, and listen. You are not alone in this world and there are a lot of people outside this pretty circled capitol who put their trust in you. But that trust doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want at closed doors.

4. A variant of my third wish: Please continue to be yourself. To be a deputy doesn’t make you a superior person. Do not demand a special treatment for your recently acquired status. You are a representative and therefore, first and foremost, a public server. This country is filled with ego- hunger people. And I feel we need just people. Not more pricks from any tendency or party pretending to be Gods and Goddess.

5. Inside the Capitol, please also consider the “other”. Your political opponents are as human as you are. For real, even if they don’t think like you. Your parish is not the world and you don’t hold the truth in your hands. Sit next to them. See what you can build with them. Agree to disagree and work on those things you do agree. There must be some, for the mental health of this country so eager of seeing some reconciliation; look for those, find them, and work on them.

6. Remember you are part of a separate power. For real, you might consider it odd but you are part of a separate power and now, you can try to actually act like one. Just saying. In case of any doubts, read Montesquieu. Yes, he wrote like a million years ago and you should feel ashamed of ignoring the fact that you, like a million years later, still don’t know a thing about independent and separate powers.

7. Sure, there are loads of issues we are all concerned of and you should work on those topics (ejem… Does “insecurity” sounds like an important topic to be consider? – I thought so). Now, I don’t mean to offend you, but this country cannot be fixed or build by using so many laws and eagerly trying to legalize every single little minimum aspects of our lives. Please focus your agenda in the really important topics; and stop wasting your time writing laws about colors, appropriate use of national signs, or the special law for the deodorant sellers, musicians and so on. And always remember, you are a legislator and a congressman. You are not a governor, or a policy maker. And social change depends of the work of all those people altogether, despite what the (useless) beautiful law you just approve.

8. Control the central government. Do I need to remind you that? It is not written somewhere as your must do and very basic functions as a deputy? Do some serious research. I mean like serious research, you know what that is? It’s like putting out something very well based and compromising before appearing in front of TV Cameras making a “denounce” on which we will never hear nothing of again.

9. Don’t call for a debate for every single stupidity that happens. Don’t lose your focus of the important things. We don’t need to see debate over short statement made by a judge, a politician, a priest, or a twitter. I’m just so sick of being sick of “debates”. The same script repeating from the capitol to the radio, from the TV to the University and the net. I don’t know if is politically correct to say that we are more in the need of conversations. Have you heard of those? People talking without trying to impose their version of the truth to others and willing to prove they are right just to win. People talking to exchange different points of view, and try to find something in common or a place where differences do not collide so much. I’m probably not being politically correct, I know (everyone says so) we need debates. But lately, I have developed a certain allergy to that word. “Debate” ugh… sounds like another fight “I’m Revolutionary, you are capitalist. I’m patriotic, you are not. I have these stats, you have others. You are a communist, I’m a progressive and blah blah blah...”

10. Smile. Be optimist. Give us some hope. I know you are all dreaming the same as me. I know you all dream of a place. Call it country, call it town, call it city, call it family. A place. Where we all feel safe. Where people don’t call you crazy if you consider staying. Where you are this, you are that, and you are respected despite if you are this or that. Where we do not feel fear, or paranoia or for God sake, hate. A place where we, the eternal optimists are not called naïve. A place to believe, to marry, to grow old, to raise your kids. An imperfect pleasant place. A place filled with troubles and constant changes and adjustments. But over all, a place filled with hopes and possibilities in the middle of our –not uncommon – modern chaos. A place whose people are filled with maturity, respect, consideration and compassion. Where gun shots are not heard as often as genuine smiles can be seen.

September, 26th can be the start of such place. Despite of how many of you made it. I don’t care if the most of you are still considered red. What matters is that you have the possibility to start something that has probably already started. It has started between our souls, and minds, so tired of so much.

I have made my wishes and I’m crossing my fingers to see what happens. I’m talking to many professors who are totally unaware of my story and my circumstances; of my hopes and dreams. Of this intuition that keeps telling me that the brief interruption I’m going to take of this application process, for walking a few blocks and voting; will be a contribution to my wish list. I’m looking forward to go to grad school. I’m looking forward to come back and visit this place, my 10th Wish, my home.

PS: The image used for this entry (Mafalda, my favorite cartoon character ever) was taken from this web site: http://www.ordesa.net/foro/files/posted_images/user_75_mafalda.jpg. I don't mean to steal anyone's right. I merely avoid to use my own images for privacy reasons and try to fulfill the place with something suitable on the Web.