viernes, 31 de diciembre de 2010

Happy New Year!

My blog readers already know I have no reason to celebrate. But I'm not the kind of person who carries a sad face all the time. This blog might tell you different, but I'm generally a happy person. So I put on a short black dress (because I will always be in love with classical black dresses), my favorite not-so- high but quite comfortable heels, and used more make up than usual. We prepared the table with grapes and all kinds of entries. After midnight, my boyfriend will come for a short visit. I will be watching an endless repeat of an old three tenors Christmas concert, I'll raise my glass for all the good things we have and make a check up list of New Years Wish. Might this New Year bring us more patience, trust in others, serenity, wisdom and love. Happy New Year to you reader, thanks for keep following my stories, thought and complaints. I will be back in 2011 with this blog' fourth year, bringing you what I have: an insiders perspective from Venezuelan Revolution written in a not so perfect English. See you all next year, best!
THERE IS NO REST-

Dreams in Jeopardy (about the latest Bolivar' devaluation)

Our currency has been devaluated once more. The way our exchange rate works can be a bit difficult to understand to the foreigner. But in short words let me just say that during this year we had access to dollars at the rate of 2,60 Bolívares for “primary need products” and for students studying abroad; while there was another, far more expensive rate (4,3 Bolívares per dollar), for travelers and the rest of the products. Now the preferential rate has disappeared and the official dollar cost 4,3 Bolívares for everything.

Some people consider this irrelevant since the preferential 2,60 rate was hardly accessible. Some others consider this necessary since too many exchange rates obviously create an economical distortion. But necessary or not, this devaluation is another punch to our economy, which has arrived as a New Years’ eve gift.

First, we can expect all prices to rise even more since even more people will be forced to look in the black market for expensive dollars to pay for their imported goods. We are expecting most rises in the food and health market. The “black market” rate doubles the official one. But also this comes as another excuse for speculation . Opposition might say speculation is only a government’ idea but outrageous prices for not so outrageous goods are a reality in Venezuela. A pair of US’ shoes can cost almost a quarter of my salary: anywhere from 500 – 800 Bs and when you do the math, you realized they are priced with a dollar that doubles even the black market rate. I’m not an economist and I’m totally ignorant of most economic issues, so I’m probably complaining for something that should be like that; but for us common costumers it is just abusive and weird.

Second, and most important, it is true that the preferential 2,60 rate was rarely given to anyone. But it is also true that as far as I have heard, it was given to everyone studying abroad. I’m applying to scholarships and all sorts of financial aid because there is not way for me to pay for my entire graduate education at any Bolivar per dollar rate. But with my savings, I could at least pay the fees and my living expenses for a few months which always helps. From one day to another, my dream education cost’ has doubled; and my road to grad school seems farther than ever. I would have to get a scholarship that could cover virtually every expense I have expect for the plane ticket; and if you are on this page you know how hard it is for an average student.

From one side this could be the beginning of the end of preferential rates and exchange controls; I hope one day dollars can be legal and fully available for those who wants to buy them for whatever they need. Because we will always need of others outside our boarders (which is something that our nationalist Revolutionaries will never understand) and we should have the right to access everything not only the country, but the world has to offer us.

From other side, I realize now that CADIVI was not only an endless chain of paperwork and bureaucratic steps to get a limited and ridiculous amount of dollars. It should have never been created but now that it was, it represented a help for me to pay for my education. And many others who are already studying abroad and could find themselves in trouble to pay now that the exchange rate has changed.

In a country where there is no respect for the citizen and key decisions and announcement are made on midnight, on vacations without warn or consult; everything gets more difficult than what it should be. Applying to grad school is difficult already, for anyone, anywhere. But under this circumstances, is not only difficult but almost impossible, a constant heartbreaking process.

I had a dream of going to grad school next year. When you turn 26 years old you have to admit to your friends that you will never be the endless party girl, and you will rather spend your money on books than on clothes. You have to look at them and tell them what they already know: “I’m a nerd”. I loved and constantly miss my undergraduate years. Not only because of the parties, or the friends or our naïve political struggle.

I miss discussions. I miss being up at 2:00 am finishing a paper I should have done two weeks ago. I miss the place where my own criteria was respect and valued. Something different happens in a work environment when they ask you to do “what the client wants” which is rarely what you want. I don’t like to “write a quick report, this is not a thesis, don’t pay attention to every detail because we need it now…” – I like to have time to think because the liberty of thinking is the most valuable of all liberties; and the most enjoyable. I like to think on apparently useless topics. I like to answer questions by asking more questions. And I think that for a while, somewhere outside Venezuela with people all over the world; the experience will be far more rich and productive.

Once I do that, once I go to graduate school abroad, once I officially become what I am inside: an academic; I can come back here. I can give shape to the graduate program I could not find inside Venezuela and had to look for somewhere else. Or I can be hidden while waiting for things to change. Or I can be prosecuted not because I’m rebel but because my dreams and expectations do not fit with impositions. But whatever happens, I will always have those years in my mind. They can seize my properties, limit my movements or my speech; but I haven’t heard of any political system able to erase my memories, guess my thoughts or erase my education.

That is the reason for me to pursue a graduate school career instead of taking another path. This is my bet and my purpose. Which is now in jeopardy, just as everything else in a normal life inside a never normal revolution.

PS: For more info on how this change in the exchange rate works for us Venezuelans, read a brilliant entry on Caracas Chronicles: Happy new taxes, human beings!. You should also look at Daniel' version of this story, which same as me but in a different way, has touched a personal side. Do not miss it.

miércoles, 29 de diciembre de 2010

A coup against the Constitution

I know my blog usually lacks of context. It is because I'm more focused on how life is personally lived in the Venezuelan' Revolution rather than the events that usually make big headlines. The article I'm linking to, from the Economist', provide a quick summary in English of the latest even that have made me write many blog post lately. You could say this diary is very "right oriented" but its possible political orientation is not a valid argument. What the article says is the true, nothing less and nothing more. If you like it or not, is truly your trouble how you face it. Here is the link. I would say "enjoy" to be polite, but the contents of what you will read are not what we call "enjoyable". There is no rest.

A delayed Christmas message

This was a weird Christmas. It rained and as a far as I can remember, it has never rained on Christmas before. Christmas here feels a bit colder than usual but not too much, and the sky is perfect blue without a single cloud. But this year it rained. It rained outside and it rained inside too.

Even with all hard times we have had in the past, including one Christmas we spent in the middle of a General Strike; we have always felt happy during this particular day. Is not that this year we didn’t do what we usually do, we did gather with our large family and gave away presents. But, unlike previous years, we could not raise a white flag to our constant worries. This year the threat and the war that goes inside our heads, drowns in the media, and its constantly talked in the streets; could not have its well deserved Christmas’ white flag. Almost everything we have long feared of, became reality in a matter of just a few weeks before Christmas.

Months before this Christmas I was planning to go to grad school abroad with my boyfriend next year. We thought that for this Christmas we would be more certain of our plans, as we would both be sending off our applications to the same schools. But things turned out differently and for reasons I won’t explain here; he couldn’t apply and I did. Thus I spend Christmas seeing myself in a huge dilemma I never wanted to put myself into.

I don’t want to live somewhere else forever, I want to raise a family here, where I belong. But is quite obvious that right now, I should seriously consider spending some time somewhere else. Due to the political and economical situation; the place I work at is in serious jeopardy of closing so I could lose my job next year or the year after. I could say no to grad school, or save my seat for 2012 but a jobless girl can’t give much help to a boy when they are both thinking on starting something. Therefore, If I get in, and have the possibility to go to grad school abroad, I should do it but; at least in the beginning, I will have to do it on my own. Sometimes I want to get a positive answer from the universities and sometimes I don’t.

“What is going to happen to us next year?”, “How long we’ll have to wait till circumstances let us be together as we want to? “, What is going to happen to us now?”, “Who’s going to keep its job?”, “Who’s going to lose it?”, “Which person sitting in this table will be the next to leave it?”- we all asked to each other. Each one of us looked at each other during Christmas dinner like expecting an answer but no one knew what to say.

We talked briefly the Coup the government launched this month; disrespecting people’s will and installing (finally) a dictatorship. We usually have trouble defining what’s going on in Venezuela and I have always been cautious when using the word “dictatorship”. A part of me thought that maybe, if I didn’t use the world, it won’t come true. But it did. This is not “an autocracy disguised as a democracy”, “a military democracy” or whatever odd name you can come up with. As heartbreaking it is, another part of me feel relieved of finally being able to call things by its name, without having the need to give explanations. The facts speak for themselves.

We spend the rest of the dinner talking about anything else. We turned on Skype to speak with those who already left and couldn’t make it for Christmas. We talked about this new haircut, those wedding plans, how much this baby is growing and that lady who recently got a plastic surgery and now looks older than ever. But I know them well, I know no one could make the necessary Christmas disconnection from reality.

And as rain was pouring and wine being served; I knew I will always remember this Christmas with a bittersweet feeling.

So this was a Christmas message and it turned into a long whine. I thought this was going to be a short post wishing everybody a Merry Christmas but as I kept typing, it became something… quite different.

I hope you all have had the same Christmas I had, and a very different Christmas from the one I spent; all at the same time. I wish you all had the opportunity to look at your family to realize that no matter how crazy, odd, irrational, particular they might are; they are there. They are there for you; they are made to spend good and bad times together at the same table and that’s a relieve. For me; a family is always a table, always a meeting, always a company.

I hope you had the opportunity to presence the kids’ excitement for Child Jesus or Santa, unaware of their parents’ complicated and awful world. I hope you shared their stories of bells and presents suddenly appearing under Christmas tree. I hope you woke up at 4 am, quietly without bothering their dreams, to eat the cookies and keep contributing to their fantasy. A fantasy so beautiful, that shouldn’t be touched or destroyed before is the right time.

I hope you spent Christmas with the ones who love, with that less than perfect man or woman who visited every single shopping mall in the city to find you the perfect present even if they couldn’t afford it. And you opened it with a million dollar smile; gave him/her a hug and promised that despite hard times; even with the panorama of a temporal geographic separation; there is always a light, there is always a way…that we will search for it constantly, until we find it.

I hope you had the opportunity I had, to look at him and say you are not afraid of the future, because don’t know how or under what circumstances; he will be a part of it.

A part of a Christmas without a rain; with a plain blue sky outside and inside us.

martes, 21 de diciembre de 2010

Our Shrink and other things

As I write this, I'm hearing a Cacerolazo. For the newbies, a Cacerolazo is a way of protest which consists on hitting (empty, of course) kitchen tools, specially saucepans. The empty kitchen tools symbolizes the lack of something: there is no food to put on them (and/or freedom, rights...), therefore we hit them. The noise a Cacerolazo makes is a sound of disagreement. As a form of protests, the Cacerolazo is an extremely comfortable one: you generally protest safe at home or no farther than your street, using kitchen tools near you. I have also come to realize that Cacerolazos are a therapeutic way of protesting.

Seriously, there is something quite relieving about hitting a spoon against a saucepan when you are overly mad or sad due to any controversial Revolutionary move. You might not able to take part on streets protests, due to work or more likely fear; or because your family is afraid and won't let you. You might are not even involved on any political task because is not your thing. But you are angry, and feel how Revolution has taken over your life, as deep as anyone. And when you hit a saucepan using a spoon, and hear this strange percussion in your neighborhood composed of your neighbors doing the same; you feel safe doing it. Most importantly, a Cacerolazo probably won't make much difference but you feel like at least you are doing something.

A Cacerolazo also reminds me of the country I want, of the type of society I want to live. A Cacerolazo is a disturbing symphony composed by all kinds of percussive sounds. Each person from its own window, using its own kitchen tools in its own way: maybe hitting a saucepan against another saucepan, or using a metal spoon or a wood one... produces a different sound that goes through its own rhythm. A Cacerolazo is uncoordinated by nature.

The only time I presence a coordinated Cacerolazo was during the General Strike in 2002 when my neighborhood date' brought a huge drummer to the streets and played it. I was 17 years old, and his attempt called my attention so we dated a couple of times but turned out that he wasn't as interesting as his drummer. Back to our story, since the sound of the drummer was far superior than that of our saucepans, we all decided to follow him.

Exceptions like that aside, the fact is that the Cacerolazo makes our differences, our particularities, our inability to be coordinated obvious. But still it shows that it is possible to do something together no matter how different we are; and even better: each one of us can do it in its own way.

I love differences. I love when every individual has its right to act as an individual.

The Revolution (nothing unexpected) disagrees. Today, they approved a law on which no depute can't change its vote or its criteria. Under this new law, the parliament seats will belong to a political party and not to a particular depute. No coalitions will be legal and each depute will be forced to vote on any issue as its political party does. If a depute doesn't follow this law, the risk for him is to be expelled off his charge, and unable to run for any political charge again.

So from January, new deputies will be forced to think like the party does. Inside the Assembly, we are going to find a drummer boy to make sure everyone hits a tool at the exact same time. But out there, in the streets and inside our homes, each one of us is still free to hit a saucepan in the way and with the rhythm we like.

On Internet censorship

The law which officially establishes Internet censorship in Venezuela was approved a few days ago. We are still unaware of the consequences it might have; as always it is not about the law but how others apply it. The terms in the law are vague, giving Revolutionary functionaries freedom to act at its discretion. As Daniel' clearly put it, this is not about blocking sites; it is about prosecuting the ones who write them. Honestly, I can't possible know what will happen to my blog under this new law. I have no idea where I stand.

My blog is, unfortunately, nothing important: it gets no more than 50 visitors a day so is not really a threat; however, Twitters that had less than followers were prosecuted early this year due to what they posted. Also, due to the fact that this is a blog written in English, has limited influence on a Venezuelan audience (and that's OK since it was designed for a foreign one). I read somewhere in the law draft that all contents made in Venezuela should be done in Spanish language or indigenous thong; but I don't know if this article was approved (If it was, this blog is already illegal then).

Still, I got the sense that if they want to silence dissidence on Internet, they will go first after the big broadly visited Spanish language sites and specially, their writers and/or owners. Examples of those sites now endangered are:
- Noticias24
- Noticiero Digital
- La Patilla
- Chiguire Bipolar (A brilliant political humored blog)

Daniel has translated an article of this controversial law, that lists a series of "crimes" under Bloggers, columnists, politicians etc etc etc could be prosecuted under this new law. I deeply recommend reading it. It seems like if you don't want to be prosecuted, you better don't write anything at all because anything could be interpreted as "crime".

The dictatorship has begun. And under it, could us Bloggers resists the temptation to write against it? I think not

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.

lunes, 13 de diciembre de 2010

Back in Twitter

I deactivate my old twitter account when I decided to close my blog temporally. It was the most stupid decision ever. I didn't pay attention to the messages but once your twitter account has been deactivated, you can't recover it. I open a new account. Find me at http://www.twitter.com/Julia84Caracas. That would be it. Don't click anywhere

“How to keep a low profile in Venezuela?” or questions people ask to Google and expect my blog to answer

This is the second post about Google questions. I just found it fun to do. It includes weird things people put in search engines and they, somehow, end up in my blog. I’m posting the most common ones:
1. Google question number 1: “Venezuela naked girl picture”
Are you serious? I don’t remember ever writing the word “naked” in this blog before this post and if I did, I’m sure it was in a VERY metaphorical way. Look somewhere else pal, this is NOT a porn site and you will NEVER, EVER, EVER, get a naked picture of any girl from any country here. Thank you very much.

2. Google question number 2: “Things to know about girls in Venezuela”
Are you by a chance a foreigner and you are dating a Venezuelan? Oh boy, what are you doing? No, seriously, I don’t think this blog is the proper space to find an answer to your query. Maybe if you read enough you could guess a bit about my temper or what’s going on inside my head. But I really don’t know if I’m an average Venezuelan girl or not; I think all of us girls are troublesome, no matter where we are from. Best regards, good luck next time.

3. Google question number 3: “Exchange currency control Venezuela, Cadivi students”
I like to think of you as some administrator of some college abroad trying to figuring out why this Venezuelan student can’t pay on time; and why when you ask, he always give you the same answer which sounds to you as a code: “CADIVI”. We have a very strict foreign currency control system. There is a special dollar rate for students and requires a lot of paperwork to be approved. All of my friends studying abroad are enjoying Cadivi student dollars, haven’t heard of anyone who has not get them but who knows? What is for sure is that they don’t always get them on time. To access foreign currency on other ways is illegal and it can make our education abroad to cost double or triple. So please, be patient, we will pay you (I have never heard of anyone who doesn’t) and it is truly not our fault if we cannot do it on time.
PS: Why don’t you offer us a scholarship or some kind of financial aid? We have already proven to be great students, I hope.

4. Google question number 4: “Grad school abroad do I need the GRE?”
Well it depends on what do you want to do. For some programs you don’t need the GRE or any standardized test other than TOEFL and that only if you come from a non English speaking country or you have never studied at an English Speaking country. Most business schools prefer GMAT over the GRE. Many engineering and humanities programs are more inclined towards the GRE. It also depends on where do you want to go. Most Canada and United States institutions ask for the GRE, I know most UK ones don’t… So do your homework, research your dream school website and you’ll know what to do. Good luck, I’m having the same nightmare here.

5. Google question number 5: How many times do you take GRE to get admitted to graduate school?
As many as you need. Many – to not say all - schools have cut off’s, those cut off’s usually don’t appear in the school’s web site but you have to e-mail them directly. Another way to answer this question is: take the GRE as many times you can afford until you get the score you need. In my case I didn’t got an stellar score, but I couldn’t pay another 190 dollars for a re-take this year. I simply emailed all schools I liked telling them about my situation: “My GRE score is this one, I can’t afford a re-take…my GPA is this one, my TOEFL is that one and here is my background.. do I have any chance to at least be considered?”; a few ones said yes, others kindly advice me to retake. I couldn’t apply to the last ones, I prefer to think they missed it.

6. Google question number 6: “How to keep a low profile in Venezuela?”
In Venezuela…everywhere; is the same procedure. Try to have some common sense. Don’t wear any jewelry, don’t wear clothes (specially shoes) of any visible important expensive brand; same goes with women’ purses: avoid visible brands, huge sizes, anything that looks expensive. Consider that some brands might be average abroad but are hard to find here and therefore considered classy and expensive in Venezuela. Don’t use brand new or very expensive cars; try your car to be the last anyone would be tempted to steal. Don’t show up cash or count money where strangers can see you. Avoid to carry a lot of cash with you and a lot of credit cards with you as well.
Over all, I think to keep a low profile is more about the attitude than anything else: be humble, be simple. Do not brag about your earnings, your expenses, your life style. To talk out loud in a public place about your private jet or the cruise you just took in Europe isn’t exactly the best way to keep a low profile. How much did you spent on your daughter’s wedding can only be interesting for two people: you, and any potential kidnapper who might be hearing you; so you better keep the story to yourself.
To keep a low profile is, unfortunately, the key to stay in one piece in this country.

I hope this was useful to anyone out there… Until next time!

jueves, 9 de diciembre de 2010

I’m still here (An urgent read on upcoming Internet Censorship in Venezuela)

Honestly (I apologize for this), I wasn’t planning to blog until next year. I’m way too busy between my job and the endless- time consuming applications for grad school. To make things worse, I’m just recovering from a dengue fever that kept me a few weeks in bed, so I’m way behind on my schedule. But I read the news and this time, couldn’t help to publish. To make the long story short, there is a new law reform project which pretends (and if approved, will effectively do it) to control Internet contents. There are strong reasons to believe this law will be approved.
The specific procedures are all well explained here (In Spanish). You can also go to the blogs at the bottom of this page who will surely make detailed and valuable analysis on this controversial law. For now, let me just say that the part which worries me the most is the prohibition to make anonymous publications online and the prohibition to publish any text, image, recording or video which contains any explicit or implicit way of violence. The law allows a lot of discretion of what could be violence and what is not; in short words every message that the government doesn’t like will be qualified as “violence” or “offense to the public powers” and will be censored.

As far as I know this blog is not a Venezuelan site and it shouldn’t be subjected to those rules. But still, I believe it could be blocked arguing any disposition of this law let it be anonimity or “violence” or “public power offense”; or the fact that it is written from inside Venezuela by a Venezuelan citizen. What is for sure is that many vital information Venezuelan sites that I visit daily and that they are my only source of live, minute by minute news will never be the same after this law.

I’m afraid to wake up in a few weeks and see a totally misinformed country, an even more static country than what it already is. The Revolution is so obsessed with regulations. To every problem they find, to every aspect that bothers them; they come up with a law as a “solution”. They are eager to restrict every single one of our moves. And as a result, Venezuelans don’t move so much any more. They think it twice before they move, because who knows? anything they do might be illegal. And that makes us rigid, static, un- human, just sad, plain sad.

Internet means freedom for me, the only window I can fully enjoy at the moment. Once this law is approved, I can say I have officially lost my freedom. Internet with censorship is not Internet at all, is just something else. All I know that my life as I know it will change significantly.

If you live abroad (most of my readers do), your life won’t change. Venezuelan sites will probably find the way they can be seen abroad, although blocked in here. You will probably know the news long before us; you will have more access to Venezuelan information than any Venezuelan living in the country will; which will make us second class citizens (and you, even if you are a foreigner, a first class one). You might be able to keep reading this blog. Or you might won’t.

If you come back here some day and this blog doesn’t exist or you haven’t seen an entry in quite a while; keep in mind that I’m still here. I’m still here and I’m still living the things you hear.

I’m like you, I’m a normal person, nothing extraordinary.

I just turned 26 years old and asked my boyfriend to take me to see the new Harry Potter movie as my birthday present; which he did, but he added a perfume to that gift list: “Happy” by Clinique. It’s the perfume I wear, because it’s sweet and it has the name I want to be described as: Happy.

I grew up in an average middle class family, nothing special. I have a huge family. I was lucky enough to receive a good education; I’m a college graduate and I’m applying to go to grad school abroad (is just a dream really, I have to be accepted and get a scholarship, otherwise I won’t be able to go; so the scenery is not very optimistic). I have a job which has allowed me to pay my applications expenses but makes it impossible for me to move out from my parents home (which is very common between us 20 something’s in Venezuela).

I’m in love with a man I met almost three years ago; we daydream about getting married some day and have kids of our own, but our future is not certain yet. I love to dance and to have long coffee talks with my female friends – most of them now live abroad so is “Skype talks” instead of “coffee talks” for me. I also love to write and I want to be a writer some day, to publish something someone says “this is quite good and enjoyable!”.

I was born in Caracas, I have lived here all my life. In one of the most dangerous cities of the world, I have the record of never being mugged except for those couple of times I was distracted and someone took my cell phone from my purse and I didn’t noticed until I came back home. I think the key is to always keep a low profile. I don’t have a car of my own and I have developed a strange fear to driving which drives my mom, my boyfriend and the rest of my family; crazy. I know they secretly detest me for it. I like to take long rides on busses, preferably sited, watching all the people, and listening to music on my mp3 player. I love languages, I think they are an amazing door to get to understand other people, other ways of thinking. I’m learning French and my goal is to speak English and French perfectly so I can move to Portuguese and German.

I have put myself in a lot of ridiculous situations in the past, and I’m afraid my clumsiness will forced me to continue doing so in the future. I was not popular at Highs chool so this explain why I wasn’t kissed until I turned 16. I don’t remember the name let it alone the face of the boy who did it. I smile too much. I cry too much. I’m corny. Sometimes I don’t take things so seriously, I can develop a very sarcastic and unbearable humor. But I do take things seriously, more seriously than what I would want to. I don’t tolerate injustices. I’m way too sensible. I’m not strong or brave. I’m just a freedom lover who happens so be in the wrong place for freedom lovers. A dreamer (Don’t we all are dreamers at some point?).

So I just wanted to say that if you don’t see me, remember that. Remember that whatever you read in the news its real, its real as long as someone like me lives it. That’s what I’ve been trying to prove with this blog. The possibility of not being able to do it anymore makes me sad, angry and disheartens me a lot.

This is a bad day. This is a bad day for clumsy- freedom -lover dreamers. This is a bad day for naïve people like me, who always seek to open windows wherever a door is closed. Internet Censorship is worse than a closed door; it’s an entire house with its doors and windows blocked and me; just here, struggling to keep living a normal life; feeling stupid and unable to re- open them.

PS: I don't know it its related to this or not, but I haven't been able to access my blog all day. I can only do it via Proxy. It happens with many blogspots from time to time..
PS 2: In Spanish you also can read this and this brilliant post about it by Chiguire Bipolar