viernes, 12 de octubre de 2012

I left. We lost. I won't give up

On Sunday night I told my husband I was off to bed. We had our computers tuned with Venezuelan TV Channels and my twitter account ready to receive the news. But I somehow knew I was not ready to hear them. My heart was still holding hopes of getting good news. Like Chavez lost. That we finally did it. My husband hoped the same. He even put a bottle of wine in the fridge, just in case of a celebration. Even if we wasn’t really there, in Caracas. Even if it was just the two of us and the other three Venezuelans we know in town. Obviously, I couldn’t sleep. I turned and turned in my bed, eyes wide open in the darkness.

About an hour later, my room door was open and lights immediately turned on. It was too important to hold any respect for my supposed sleeping. After all, my husband knows me too well, he knew I couldn’t possibly be sleeping at all in such a moment. We didn’t say much. He was standing at the door and his face told me everything: his face was that face of a man falling apart. We both fell, in a long embrace, crying. Not sobbing. It was a quiet crying as if it were disrespectful on our parts to cry, since we already left the country while others we care about so much are still there; and they throw all their best efforts on Capriles’ campaign.

Next, we had an odd conversation about our future. What to do next. It was implied that given how complicated things are in Venezuela, with absolutely not hope for us to have a better future – stuck in low paid jobs, in companies at risk of closing their doors…plus crime rates etc. – we were not going to go back. But we never told anyone so, this others’ supposition, what everyone thinks when a young couple leave. Not ours.

For us it was simply a matter of: “the Masters program lasts two years and once he’s graduate we will see”. In that quiet crying on Sunday I knew it: in our hearts, we never planned to stay abroad indefinitely, we both want to go back. We didn’t know if we were going to do this in two years or later on but we wanted (want.. I don’t know if I should put this in past or present tense) to raise our kids the way we were raised, where we were raised. To grow old in a house in some middle class Caracas’ neighborhood, in a backyard including an annoying mango’ tree.

I remembered all the elections I have witnessed since the Revolution started. Every time the CNE has announced Chavez as winner, I always go back to my bed and cry – an awful routine, I am aware. Inside, I always hold the same thought: that if some day I manage to leave the country, things like this will affect me a lot less; since I would be living a completely different reality. It couldn’t be farther from the truth: this time, being away, knowing the results; affected me a lot more.

My husband and I still haven’t figured out “the future”. Why should we? We just got married, moved overseas; that means a lot to handle, a lot of adjustments to be made. No one can ask us to decide yet if we want to go back, or stay or go somewhere else. I feel relieve we both want the same: to go back. If we can’t go back, it won’t be because we don’t want to. I suppose we will and we will keep monitoring with the aid of our family and friends still there how the situation develops before making any decision.

In the meantime, I want to share with you a few thoughts I had after this devastating results and after the immediate mourn and crying:

1. I don’t understand my country.
I have tried, don’t know if hard enough, to understand it. To study, to talk, see and work with all kinds of people. I still don’t fully understand how it works. There are many brilliant essays circulating in the web – unfortunately most in Spanish – talking about this, so I am glad I am not the only one. We – I mean “we” as those who oppose the current government – were so annoyed by the fact that a majority of Venezuelans voted last Sunday for a government that has done little good and much wrong; that we are working hard on finding an explanation. Or a word that can comfort us. Or both.

The classical “people- meaning, poor, low class people– ignorance” – is not enough. It is an argument often offered by people who think they are better than others and I don’t like that. I have seen a lot of sh… (excuse the word) in the middle class, as in the low class “barrios” as in the rich, exclusive class. In all those scenarios I have seen lack of moral, corruption, brutal ignorance, zero political even less democratic culture. Is like a plague and it doesn’t respect social classes. Explanations can also be found in the fear the government infringes on a lot of people: fear of losing their jobs, fear of losing their contracts or their benefits from social programs, fear of just… changing things. My mom asked me the other day if fear was not another evil derived from plain ignorance. I could not argue.

Last, perhaps the most “objective” argument is the power the government has. The overwhelming advantage our president enjoyed in resources and in having the military, the judicial and the electoral branches of power all for himself. I am still puzzled as to how we could ever be strong enough, smart enough, rich enough to overcome that power.
So for me, the “why we lost?” question could be answering arguing the following:
a) We, as a country, still got a lot to learn in terms of political culture to go to the ballots aware of our responsibility as citizens, and the consequences our actions have on others’ lives.
b) Our government in 14 years in power has manage to hold, well, a lot of power. This power comes in a ridiculous advantage when it comes to campaigning that will simply overcome any attempt to do to be in equal terms. We will never have fair election in those conditions.
c) However, and this is a paradox, it is only through elections that our current president must leave his office. Only this way guarantees a peaceful transition and sets the roots to establish a more democratic, respectful and lawful state.

2. We have a leader now: Capriles. And a great opposition alliance (MUD: hope it last). So no reason to give up.
I am quite aware we lost but we were so close to the goal we could almost smell it. Everybody agrees on this, on polls, on long opinion analysis, on reviews of the exhausting tour Capriles made throughout the whole country during this campaign. He did not make it but proved we can make it, proved that he has what it takes to go through this process. Capriles is the leader the opposition never had before and longed for. No one is more against populism than me, I don’t want to deify him or anything closer. I just want to state that this is a guy who is prepared for the job, who had the best possible reaction to the news of his defeat, who is political, smart, a democrat. Someone that can glue the whole unintelligible “salad” that is the Venezuelan opposition together. This, of course, with the help of those who have worked to make the MUD (an alliance of opposition parties), a reality.

Despite the results, the campaign was brilliant. Those in the opposition did exactly what they should. So I won’t lose my hope of witnessing the end of this Revolution and a peaceful transition leaded by Capriles and those who worked with them, from his party and from others.

3. Even here, far away from Caracas, I still have a role to play
When I moved out, I wasn’t sure of what to do with this blog. I decided to keep it open, until I figure it out. This blog, in my opinion, holds its value in the fact that it is an open, honest testimony of a witness within a particular situation; a political one. Now that I am away, it will be harder to bring stories from the ground, unless I include the daily talks I have with my family and friends back home (thank you, Internet).

But now that I have finished what is the first post here not published in Venezuela, I think there might be something valuable in the experience of an emigrant, who is still – as you have noticed – pretty much attached with what it happens back in Venezuela but who is also managing to adjust to her new life. My testimony and what I can recollect from those back home will continue filling the “pages” of this space.

Besides my vote from abroad which is counted only after the first, irreversible announce of the elections results has been made; Internet holds for us the possibility of sharing information, keeping those who needed informed, check if connections in Venezuela in key moments are working properly or if what we can do to spread a message and so on.
My physical address have changed. But my blog, my Twitter account and what I stand for remains the same, wherever I go.

3 comentarios:

  1. Once again, congrats on your marriage :)

    You are one of the many venezuelans abroad that want to come back but the circumstances are not good for them to do so, and as you say, they want to give their kids the best and sadly, that cant happen in this country...

    As those people abroad, you did what you could, and the venezuelans abroad proven that they care for their counrty, that despite not living in it they care as if they were for in first place (for much of them) they had to leave because of this government.

    You still don't know for sure what to do with your lives, and that's ok, and the fact that you don't come back to venezuela by 2015 doesnt mean you dont care, but is that not enough people care and you shouldnt throw away the good things you achieved with your hard work to live with ungrateful people of the effort of those that strive to make this a better country for all of us.

    I think that if the opposition manages to stick togheter, they can win almost half the states in regional elections and that would certainly be a blow to chavez pretensions, but if the oppo fails, prepare for a red sh*tstorm...

    I told my gf that even though I'm ashamed of sharing the country with a bunch of ruthless, irresponsible people, I feel proud of being venezuelan, precisely because of my countrymen overseas: they do what they can for their country and they did it even with all the CNE treachery and mumbo jumbo, people all over the world were motivated to do so, and even some were in line for HOURS the center opened and they could vote, even if they could come and go at any time... venezuelans overseas are (mostly) the best our country has to offer and that, sadly, are more prized outside that inside. I always say that our second best export is talent.

    Be happy with your husband and keep dreaming at screaming your kids to come down the mango tree, else they'll be hurt, the way a true venezuelan mom would say: "Ernesto David Garcia Olivares, bajate de ahi ahora mismito antes que te de una pela!!!" for maybe you can do so someday, hopefully, in the not too distant future :)

    P.S.: keep posting here :p it's been a while since the last one :p

  2. It is painful moment but it is a moment, and the coast is now clear. I have spent too many years waiting and working for a turn of the tide, for a sign that things will get better. That's settled. It is time to embrace a new future. A future definitely not in Venezuela, but the world is big place. You and your husband are just starting. I have to start all over again in middle age. Those were wonderful times in Venezuela, but they have been fading away at an increasing pace in the last years. There will be wonderful times elsewhere. Abrazos. Adelante.

  3. Hola. Hello!
    I know and Chavez does how he is still in power !
    The same answer as to why Fidel and Raul are, honey !
    Military power and control!
    Unless a magnicide occurs!
    But will this eliminate the 14 year old dominating "forces"?
    Sorry, but evil seems to always win, especially in Catholic Latin America !
    As far as I see it, only something extreme, can try and save Venezuela!
    I know poor people, that are the same as 14 years ago !


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