sábado, 23 de abril de 2011

My complete stance on MUD' primary date (first and last words)

So this is the thing: Opposition parties reunited in the MUD (roughly “Unity table”) have defined a date for the primaries; to choose our candidate for presidency. That would be next year in February. As always, I’m running late. Bloggers here and there, in English and Spanish had already spoke out their anger, their disagreement with the MUD’ decision and later on, their desire to turn the page – or not – and move on to the political campaign. But I prefer to take my time to speak out things, thoughtfully considered; than to be in the unnecessary spotlight of controversy.

As most, I strongly disagree with MUD’ decision. Presidential elections are supposed to be at the end of 2012 (we think, not that we are entirely sure of this, by the way…); so February does seem to me like too late to pick the candidate that is going to struggle against Chavez amazing machinery campaign, power and intimidation in the hope to beat him at the ballot boxes. I can name loads of reasons to support my stance. But I don’t think is important to state why I think February 2012 is too late and could put our only hopes in serious risk. What it really matters is that my disagreement with the way MUD’ took this decision is stronger than the decision itself.

The opposition parties (or most, the ones who were agree on delaying the date), took this decision against the claims of the citizens they should answer to. I don’t know if there is an stats proof anywhere but it does seem to me that the general mood of those of us who consider ourselves part of the “opposition” was to make those primaries this year; as soon as possible. The sooner we had our candidate elected; the longer was the time we had to make him/her stronger. More importantly; the opportunity for the Revolution to do anything “legal” to prevent this person to run for the office against the “great leader” itself, could be weaker. I never heard in the streets, in the radio, in the endless dinner talks between my family or at my office; a single comment of anyone in favor of delaying the elections. Everyone wanted them to be as soon as possible.

Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s not. But the message most opposition parties at MUD are giving us is this: “we want some extra time to make our candidates stronger for the primaries; so they can beat the guy who’s now the strongest (that would be Capriles, Miranda’ governor)”. Even worse, they are also sending me this message: “Maybe, if Capriles continues to leads the pools, the government will disqualify him; and with him out of the game, our candidates could take his place. But of course, we need time for that”. None of the messages is telling us they hear their voters at all.

They are playing their cards. And that’s ok, that’s totally legitimate, I have nothing against it. After all they are politicians and that’s what politicians do (among other things, of course): they calculate their moves and work to get access to power positions, so they can act from them. But they are forgetting something. They are forgetting the moment and the context they are acting in. They seemed too much into their game to understand that this country is suffering a crisis; and thus this is no time to be politician in that sense.

This is the time to act not rather like a rescue team. We expected them to be the fire-workers that would save us – or at least try - from the fire that is consuming Venezuela little than little; and perhaps even start to plant over the ashes. We wanted water, oxygen, an opportunity to breathe again in a place where all doors seem to be closed or about to close. We definitely did not expected them to throw some more flammable material.

I hope their mistake will no bring any further consequences. I hope that in opposition primaries we can vote and select the candidate we want; not the candidate they want or, more likely the candidate we had no choice but to vote for him because the one we really wanted was disqualify by the Revolution (I lost count of how many times I have had to make that nasty kind of vote). I hope that once this candidate gets elected, there is still enough time for him to make campaign, and to convince some ni-nis to vote for him on presidential elections. I hope the Revolution, in this remaining year and a half, makes enough mistakes to become more unpopular than what it already is, thus leaving us the road free and saving MUD’ leaders by the bell.

But either way I want to remind them (I wish I could tell them, but I have no access to them) that authoritarianism, dictatorship, fascism and all those things and attitudes we so deeply despise of the Revolution; do not belong only to Chavez and his comrades. They are inside each one of us. After all, in what other way you can explain the fact that Chavez – a military and promoted of a failed-bloody- coup d’ etat was elected by an overwhelming majority of Venezuelans back in 1998? And in this overwhelming majority many, many of you were included. Don’t tell me again the story of the deprived and old political parties and the hope Chavez represented for the low classes. The fact is when an entire country makes a vote of faith to a man who betrayed democracy in such an open and offensive way; is a country without democratic nor political culture. This is a country that has Chavez and all what he represents: authoritarianism, dictatorship, fascism in the blood, in the genes, in the most deep part of each one of their citizens.

We all have Chavez inside us, and even when we are working against him, we sometimes end up acting just like him. When you guys from the MUD took the decision of delaying the primary’ date against what your voters think, following personal interests and putting in risk the sake and hopes of an entire country; you acted just like a Bolivarian Revolutionary. It is really painful for me to say this. And I know I’m earning more than one eyebrow and a few “dis-follow”, plus million critiques as I write this. But I think it is important to speak this out, out loud, to force us to face our own inside demons. We have to recognize that the biggest and hardest battle we have to lead is not against a regime, or a political system, but rather against ourselves. We have to work in a different direction, work to strengthen our almost inexistent political culture and conscience; work to promote in the internalization of our democratic values.

But every time we make a cult around out own personality. Every time we refuse to let others take the microphone and participate. Every time we discard an argument because of the person and not the argument. Every time we shot our ears. Every time we consider ourselves way too important to hear others because a couple of radio stations called us to hear our opinion. Every time we look at someone as it was less than us because of their social class, their origins or their short number of professional qualifications (aka foreign institution’ diplomas). Every time we believe that is not important what we say but how we say it, and we write it in a complicated language just to brag about ourselves. Every time we take good use of “la viveza del venezolano” and pass over others just to achieve a personal benefit. Every time we do that, we act like Revolutionaries. Like the Revolutionary type we don’t like. Like the Revolution that has harmed us so much. Like the system we don’t want for our country.

But we want to be different, don’t we?

So please, lets act different!

Long – and- important PS:
As I promised at Twitter, this will be the fist and last thing I will say on this issue. I will now pass the page and focus on the primaries, and the elections that follow immediately. If there is any help wanted, to promote vote in Venezuela or abroad, to promote awareness abroad, to announce something, to denounce anything… I’m here.

Long and important PS 2:
On the other hand, I can say here and now that I have acted sometimes or carried an attitude that should be more characteristic of a Revolutionary than of someone who is against it. There have been times (hopefully not many) when my actions or my attitudes have been everything but democratic. It would be a good exercise to recall some of those anecdotes in this blog. In the meantime, I realized that long time ago, I already posted one of those here.

I want you to understand that I’m disappointed with this MUD’ decision, but at the same time I’m equally guilty of similar actions. I bet many Venezuelans like me can say the same, if they dare. We always complain of the limits this government puts to democracy. And that's all right. But what about the limits WE put to democracy?

PS 3: While this stance is yes, visceral (after all, this whole blog is... well, visceral). Miguel offers his rather more rational stance. I share it instead of the stances of others, because this one differs from mine, or at least try to see the things with a positive point of view. It takes some notes from Venezuelan history and it does have a good point. Miguel, I wish I could be agree with you. But more than that, I hope you are right. You are older and you have more knowledge than me, so let's hope you are right, for the sake of all of us.

martes, 19 de abril de 2011

Advantages and disavantages of being a woman here (aka: sanitary pads update)

On another piece of news, I have received many comments interested on the development of our odd sanitary pad shortage. At least in Caracas, things have changed slightly: you can find sanitary pads in almost any pharmacy or supermarket but only of one or two brand or varieties tops; when before December you were able to find more than 6 or 7 different brand or varieties. Probably it will be the same trouble we have with milk: after a major critical shortage back in 2007, the situation has never go back to normal. Milk reappears and disappears off the shelves. When it does disappears, it never does it for longer than a week. But when it's available, you can't hardly find more than one or two brands tops.

Back to sanitary pads, thankfully, I use one of the few brands that are now available at some places. My sister could also found the brand she uses but only with wings and wings cause her allergies... Similar histories and cases can be repeated from woman to woman. Probably most men won't get it. For them sanitary pads are like little diapers women use when they most be avoided because they can't have sex in these conditions and they are usually ill humored. But in our feminine universe, sanitary pads are our company and salvation to survive those unusually hard days we have to face month after month. And for every woman there is a brand - Always, Tess, Kotex, Carefree, Stayfree etc... -, a type of fabric - soft cotton or something like a mesh (more effective but it can cause irritation to many), a size - including daylight or night -, with wings or without them... etc. A sanitary pad is the representation of a choice that modern society has left us to bare those days in a world designed for men, a world where we have to still go to work and live our normal life without any excuses (who puts its period as a work absence excuse? No boss would ever approve it).

So in short, it is really unfortunate that we are now limited to only a few brands and sizes. For many woman in Venezuela, their periods will be less comfortable than usual. But we won't deny that we all now feel relieved to at least be able to find sanitary pads available.

My behavior during this whole shortage situation remind me of the grandmother of a friend of mine. She's from Spain and ran with her family from the Civil War when she was just a teenager. Even today, she saves cans of different food: think Tuna, tomato etc, under her bed. Her sons and grandsons freaked out because she has saved too many of them and more often than not, some pass their expiration date.

I look at my closet, where one drawer is completely filled with sanitary pads and I can't help but think of that old lady driving everyone crazy with their cans. I have payed an expensive price due to the uncertainty, anguish and paranoia I had while this shortage lasted (about three months). I have now loads of sanitary pads packages of different brads - almost none my usual one -. For a moment it seems they are looking at me, telling me "you are so stupid, you let "the system" beat you!, you bought all this in advance, for nothing!".On the other hand, I won't have to worry about buying those for the rest of the year, or a little less if I share some with my sister.

The trouble with "this system", in general and not just in this matter, is that you never know what to do. Making plans and being overcautious can be risky: for example if you save a lot in your bank account and your bank goes intervened by the government, you might never look again at those founds or at least for a while; put putting out your capital saying in an account abroad is terribly hard not to say illegal. Another alternative for you is to invest the money instead of leaving it in the bank but if you buy a private property you have the risk of having your property seized by the government, and same happens if you start a business. If I buy a lot of sanitary pads in advance, I have the risk of losing some after they have pass their expiration date; but while the shortage remained current, the scenario of never being able to find period pads again was a perfectly probable one.

So must of us, whenever a big or small decision in our life comes, not only do not know what to do, but also due to the Revolution' craziness, imagine terrible risks or consequences for each of options we take. We have to be impulsive, but also cautious; we have to be aggressive but we can't afford to be noticed too much. We want to have success but not so much to become a government' or delinquency target. And above all, we have to be intuitive, like extra super duper intuitive, if we want to survive "the system" without losing what we are and what we have in the process.

So women in Venezuela might not have the sanitary pad of their choice anymore, but although sometimes it does fail (do you need any more proof?); our unique feminine intuition does give us a little advantage.

PS: This post was published in a rush, no re-read or editing, so sorry if you find more grammar mistakes than usual, I'll promise I'll do something about it as soon as I can.

Introducing a new young-Venezuelan-English-Blogger

As far as I know there is only one major consistent Venezuelan blogger writing in English from Venezuela: that's Daniel. My blog is the other lone English blog written from Venezuela. The remaining English blogs concerning Venezuela are written either by expatriates, obviously from abroad; or by foreigners. Therefore I cheer any new addition to the blogosphere. The most recent I came across with - due to its author comment in my blog - is Naivety of the Young.

The blog is written by a 22 year old student living in Maracaibo (I still remain, therefore, as the only one woman and the only one blogging from Caracas). He uses a very rough English but it won't be difficult for you to understand him, since you are already used to our "particular", often grammatically incorrect English. I'm going to leave you a paragraph I felt related to, and it is a sample of the work his blog can deliver if he gets enough readers' feedback and if he posts some more (he hasn't posted anything new since December, 2010). So here it goes:

"Look around for a while.Look at the street,look at the tv,look at the internet.
Are you really going to deny that there is no division? that everyone is doing bad,that life is worse?
are you really going to believe the Utopic view of the government and the official stories?
Look around and say out loud that Venezuela is at its Zenith.
That Venezuela is the best country in the continent.
That the government's programs are working.
That "He" is always right.
That there is no need to question him because you KNOW he is honest.

Now go to church"

You won't deny that the last line is priceless. Read the whole entry here

lunes, 11 de abril de 2011

April 11' 9th anniversary

I really don't know what to say about this. I wrote about it before, way before when I started blogging. I don't know if I should edit those memories or not, having in store what I knew back in 2007, five years after the coup and what I do know now. But do K now much? No. It was a very blurry, confusing day. It all started with a demonstration. Just a demonstration, some people gathered at a square, it wasn't supposed to be a march. But then it turned into a march. And we marched. I was 17, with my mom. I was wearing a halter turquoise top and I remember I looked quite pretty. And while walking I was thinking pretty much that: things were complicated in the country, we were marching to trow down a president and go back the way we were and I looked pretty. The day was bright and I got a creepy "portuguese" tan in my shoulders and my chest...

Then what I told you before happened. To this date, no one from the government has been found guilty. But this happened. This really did. I have told this before and will do it again. Someday they will have to give an explanation to this country for what they did. I'm longing to hear it.

In the meantime, as I fall sleep ending another day of my odd routine, I think about those who are now remembering the 9th anniversary of the loss of their loved ones. And I'm so, so sorry for them. Nothing could ever repair their pain.

The blackout and the huge parking line

(Readers: sorry for taking this long before posting anything new. Work and life got in my way...But expect more updates in the following days since next week I'm on vacations!! (next week that is).. and, unfortunately, staying home. I have received some encouraging e-mails from Venezuelans wanting to participate in this blog; I have strong hopes that my proposal will materialize eventually. Back to topic, this post was written last Friday, when a brief blackout took place in Caracas and at least 11 other Venezuelan states).

In the morning, my mom heard on the radio a declaration of our energy minister: Mr. Rodríguez- Araque, saying that there was nothing to worry about: the energy crisis which has kept our country in some sort of state of emergency for more than a year, it’s over. Everything is O.K…And it was until 3- something in the afternoon when a massive blackout surprised us in Caracas and many, I suppose, in the rest of the country.

I was alone in my office when it happened. My boyfriend called me immediately to check if he was the only one who was left without power in the middle of his work journey. My boss followed. He was at the bank and recommended me to leave the office immediately and go home, since the blackout was massive and “who knows how traffic is going to be later on, without traffic lines to put an order to it.

I obeyed (because who doesn’t obey a boss who asks you to leave your work early?) and called my mom to let her know I was on my way home. But she insisted on picking me up instead “the metro is closed and all busses must be collapsed”. I had no choice but to agree.

When my mom picks me up at work, she usually takes from 15 to 30 minutes to reach my office. But this time, half an hour had already pass and she was still near home. “This is not traffic, this is a huge parking line” – She told me, via sms, and had to turn back home, frustrated.

By then, it was 5:00 O’ Clock already and I was afraid of staying in my office alone after dark. Electricity came back at least where I was, but normality did not.

I went out to see what I could do. The metro remained closed and the streets were unusually overcrowded. And traffic looked, like my mom wrote, like a huge parking line. I started walking until I reached an area where traffic was not so high. I stood at a bus stop watching busses passing by because they were already too overcrowded.

Then, a miracle happened and one bus stopped. It was hard to believe another could fit inside it, but before I noticed, I was in. The bus driver announced he would not complete the route, leaving everybody just a few blocks away.

I spent another 15-20 minutes in that bus, squashed against the rest of the passengers, unable to move a single part of my body; while seeing hundreds of people walking usually empty sidewalks, hopelessly trying to reach their homes without any public transportation system available.

I got down the bus (or more likely, the crowd inside the bus pushed me outside), walked for a few and took another bus to my boyfriend’ place. Luckily, this bus was no overcrowded since is a low demand one.

When I show up at his door; I was red, sweating, feeling a bit dizzy and tired as hell. I called my mom, also exhausted after going down and up 12 floors to get in the car and try to pick me up.

My boyfriend took me home two hours later, when traffic had already went down. I fall sleep in the sheets of a chaotic country were our journeys, affected by both our government’ inefficiency and our consequential paranoia; can’t hardly make for an organized, normal routine.

Image taken from HERE. No copyright infringement intended.