Sunday, 22 July 2012

The invisible beings

In August 1998, six months before the election of Hugo Chavez as president of Venezuela, official figures released by polling company Datanálisis revealed that of a population of 22,789,025 of the country's inhabitants, the number of people within the D and E sectors (structural and critical poverty) reached 77%, which meant that more than two thirds of Venezuelans were miserable, of which more than 7 million children had no home or school, and of these more than 4 million endured severe malnutrition. 
These were the invisible beings, heirs of other invisible beings, a thousand times betrayed.
Everything that was done or undone in the course of half a century to change this devastation was not only pointless or mendacios: the devastation had increased to such proportions that it politically devoured its creators.
While the invisible beings -invisible to official history, individualist paroxysm and frivolous insensibility- struggled to survive in neglect and excluded from almost any human right, others by contrast, performative and visible, either in their own right or through their proxies, assaulted and plundered the public treasury and properties that belonged to the common good, in cahoots with the powerful and with debased civil servants, until they left the country and its people in such a state of agony as that denounced by the aforementioned figures and realities.
Such iniquities heralded these insurrections, at the victorious helm of which Hugo Chavez has been elected by our people time and time again.
Because, from then on, the invisible beings became visible.
And I now hope forever.
Gustavo Pereira

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Because he saved my life

Reason No. 12

Chavez saved my life. I was ruined and without hope before he came to power.
Times used to be very hard. I have always been a progressive, and for that reason I paid a high price. 

At that time I understood that if your vote is not going to really help transform the order of things, then it’s just not worth it.

In 1998, when Chavez won, I felt differently. At the time my apathy was already changing, eager to see what would happen in our country with a president who was different to all the others? A military man, irreverent, dark, Amerindian and brave.

I say he saved my life, because given the rythm of hopelessness and frustration that I had endured, I don’t think I would have endured much longer.

Nowadays I keep up with the press every day, with people on the street , with the TV, with the changes taking place. I have developed a genuine interest in what’s going on in our country, because for the first time in many years I feel identified with someone, with something. 

I feel I have been taken into account, basically.

Carlos Luis Mendoza

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Reason No. 11

The main reason is that I love my country. That is the basic reason.

And Chavez taught me to truly value my country.

The fact that you should care for your neighbour, for our living together, for the environment, is an important change. Before we were kind of more shut-in: all that mattered was what was "mine", full stop.  Now it's about what's "ours".

Before we were so heavily infiltrated that it was easier to learn about foreign stuff than our own.

When I begin to feel the benefits of the social missions -because I really do benefit from such programmes as Mercal [subsidised groceries], the CDI [Integral Diagnosis Centres] and the Barrio Adentro mission [health modules in disadvantaged areas]-  that's when I truly realise the significance of these 'misiones'; and not just for me, but for my whole family, even if we have private health insurance.

I also realise I love my country when I go back down memory lane and remember the times when other people used to take our country's resources away, and left us only the crumbs, if at all.

The big fish used to eat the little fish. That's what they were doing to us. Now what's ours is truly ours.

In my own case, I used to study Design in a private institute and used to work in the FEDECAMARAS [Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce] building. But when my employers found out I was pregnant, they fired me. I was forced to abandon my studies. I tried to survive for a while with my redundancy pay, . Thankfully, my family helped. In contrast to those times, I now find that our New Labour Law (also known as 'LOTTT'), protects women and children far more. What happened to me then would no longer happen to me now.

During El Caracazo [1989 urban riots], people went out in desperation to sack food from the store near where I live, and the National Guard, without any consideration whatsoever, came in to get people out with tear gas. We were choking! That date marked me forever.

During the 2003 Oil Strike (organised by the anti-government elite), I used to live in the port city of La Guaira, and it was outrageous to see the banks closed. They were closed with my money inside, and I couldn't buy milk or food for my daughters, just because someone decided to shut them. That decision was taken by an elite. In those days, the Bank of Venezuela was owned by the Spanish Santander Group.

You had to queue up the whole day, in order to fill your tank with petrol. I expect those bankers didn't have to queue up at all.

I have always seen Chavez as our hope. and events and actions confirm it. Even beyond our borders, he represents hope for many people. Leaving aside the TV or newspapers, Chavez has transmitted us his empathy and love.
¡I remain firmly by his side, wherever it takes!

A note of caution: I am no fanatic, I am attentive to our errors, and I am a critical person. But he truly does stand for hope. You can relate to him as if he were someone from your own family.

He is a teacher and every time he speaks to us, he teaches us something of history, geography, culture and of life itself; and I want him to continue his mandate because I don't want to return to the dark hole where we had been buried for so many years.

You feel Hugo to be part of the family, a friend, and if he could hear me right now, I'd tell him:

Hi Hugo! You can count on me. I also want a country to be proud of!

Dileny Jiménez

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

In order to not go into reverse

Reason No. 10

I'd vote for Chavez in order not to turn back, to set limits to that past of ours, those grey sleepless times that obeyed a logic that was neoliberal in as far as it was oppressive.  

Pedro Ibañez

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Because he has been the President of Inclusion

Reason No. 8.

The whole of society that had been excluded during previous governments has been taken into account by President Hugo Chavez' Bolivarian administration.

I say this as someone who belongs to the indigenous Wayuu people. As an architect and researcher, I have devoted myself to rethinking my people's housing, adapting all the knowledge I gained at university to my roots, to the land of my ancestors; and I have found that this governement has opened up all the possibilities to develop new approaches and projects for my people.

This is the most important reason for me, so you can say it's about awareness of our sovereign well-being! 

Alonso Morillo Arapé

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Because we had never previously believed in our ability to be creative...

Reason No. 7

If we had to list all the reasons why our 'Comandante' Hugo Chávez must continue, we would fill the sea with never-ending blessings.

It's to do with the social missions, it's about the visibilisation of the man and woman of the barrio [slums], of our indigenous people, of the 'Llanero' [inhabitant of the plains], of Afro-venezuelans; of our children and youth, adults and grandparents;  of the disabled, of the rural poor, of athletes, of cultural agents with ancestral wisdom, of our soldiers as part of the people, and of scientists, because we had never before believed we were able to be creative in our own right, and produce cell phones, Canaimitas [mini laptops adapted for schools], of putting a satellite in space, of building houses fit for Life, of having athletes that fill us with pride, of having TV channels where programmes are produced with and for the people, where my people organize and achieve wonderful triumphs.

Because we never before had a healthcare network so close to the barrios [slums]; more subway lines, urban cable cars, rapid bus transit and railways; new towns; universities, schools and colleges, which are beginning to narrow the gap between knowledge and the daily practice of life. Because studying is not a luxury but a right, because living with dignity is no longer an impossible goal, but our new life project; because PDVSA [Venezuelan national oil company] does not only mean economic wealth, but also social wealth; because CANTV [Venezuelan national telecommunications company] and the Bank of Venezuela now truly belong to Venezuelans.

Because we never before knew that we could have friends in the rest of the World, in Cuba, Belarus, China, Iran, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Russia and many other places, as well as learn and share our knowledge, our values, our cultures.
Because we have raised the flag of food sovereignty, and of communicational, territorial, cultural and industrial sovereignty; the sovereignty of being independent and free, of being independent in thought, action and love, and in continuing to proudly build our country.

Because we have a man, a national project, a leader who embodies his people, whose voice is heard in the World, and who stands for hope, life and strength to keep going; because we've only really just discovered what Venezuela is about, and we have come to like her so much that we're proud of her, and of being her children.

There are hundreds of more reasons, but my own personal one is that I'd like many more Venezuelans, as in my case, to continue to count on the support of PDVSA to help with the costs of otherwise expensive life-saving surgery,  and for our Social Security to keep dispensing high-value medicines to patients who normally would not be able to afford them.

The battle continues, from our different spheres of action, and so will the landmark achievements and the necessary transformations. But always with the courage, the dignity, the morals and ethics that must characterize us as revolutionaries

Because, without a doubt, nowadays ALL Venezuelans are made of REVOLUTION.

Susana Moncada 

Friday, 6 July 2012

Because he has helped us overcome nine colonial disgraces

Reason No. 6

-Which are the 9 colonial disgraces - colonising or recolonising-  that are being continually defeated by Chavez, minute after minute, and constitute part of the magic or the secret of his empathy with the people, in its true sense? 

-The first three are crucial. The rest are but ramifications of these:

 1.- FIRST COLONIAL DISGRACE: The disgrace of being poor, or the disgrace of class.
Chavez has always prided himself in having once been "the hawker of Sabaneta". A boy who sold home made sweets around the streets of his native town, to help support his family's meagre income.

2.- SECOND COLONIAL DISGRACE: Our racial disgrace, the need to overcome our self-racism.
Chavez has always taken pride in "The Amerindian that I am, the black man, or the 'zambo', so what?"...

3.- THIRD COLONIAL DISGRACE:   The ethnic disgrace, the contempt for our own culture, even of our own landscape and people.

Chávez has always been proud of his Llanos [Venezuelan inland plains], of his people and of our music; even of his most marginalised and persecuted people, such as the Cuiva of the Capanaparo river: “I would like to spend my last days by those small streams and landscapes with their most excluded of peoples: the Cuiva and the Yaruro.”

Already in his own time, José Martí denounced those who felt shame of having an Amerindian mother; the first of our mothers in the Americas, also known as Abya Yala.

The native peoples call upon the vindication of Mother Earth from our primordial cultures. Feeling shame for the land where you are born is perhaps the worst disloyalty you can have towards yourself and with our peoples.

4.- FOURTH COLONIAL DISGRACE:  The disgrace of religion, creed or philosophy.

Chavez always goes around wearing his cross. He had his crucifix in his hand when he returned from his momentary uprooting, following his rescue from the ghost of death by his people and the armed forces. From the standpoint of his Catholicism, taken up by the sphere of Liberation Theology, he finds agreement with Critical Marxism, Protestants, popular religions, the beliefs of our native peoples and afro-americans, agnostics and atheists, in the various walks of social and political life.

Curiously, an intercultural society seeks above all -among other things- a relationship of peaceful coexistence and equity between persons and peoples of different religions, philosophies or beliefs, where believers, agnostics and atheists can all live happily together.

5.- FIFTH COLONIAL DISGRACE: The disgrace of defeat.

In the wake of every defeat, every adversity, Chavez assumes a “¡Por ahora!” [For the time being] (Feb. 4th 1992).

He thus converts a visible but transitory military defeat, for instance, into a political triumph, a historically far-reaching diplomatic victory. It’s like the condor thriving in the storm and rising over the shoulders of the very social and political hurricane of our times.
Of the revolutionary hurricane.
In terms of his continuous triumphs, on the other side of the coin, he does not take advantage of these to persecute, kill or repress his enemies in their defeat. Even though his style and speech, his wounding word, can at times confuse some and conceal his great soul, as a Gandhi to ‘Abya Yala’ [original pre-colonial Amerindian name of our American continent].

  He returns to power on April 13th (2002) in the arms of the people and loyal armed forces, crucifix in hand. He returned with the upfront offer of pardon and dialogue, only to be promptly misrepresented by his opponents, coup after coup, and impunity after impunity. But the dialogue, rather than pointlessly engaging the unpatriotic elite, takes place below, with peoples and armed forces as units that guarantee peace with justice, and the political stability required to spearhead structural transformations and progressive changes in mentality. However, the unity of the people and the armed forces has operated like a kind of ‘collective Gandhi’, as a factor of national cohesion, and as a dissuasive element in a “revolution that is peaceful, but not unarmed”, in Chavez’ own words.

6.- SIXTH COLONIAL DISGRACE: The shame or fear of taking on illness and death.

He does not cover up his illness, presenting it to his people with purpose and taking it on with a sense of dignity. “I have a cancer. They’ve extracted a tumour from me, but there’s no metastasis, as our enemies have suggested”. He confronts a second operation with prayer, resolve and firmness; and with the adequate treatment from our sister, Cuba, accompanied by the song of life; as well as understanding that a revolutionary has the right of preserving life, in order to fully carry out his or her historical mission. “¡Viviremos y venceremos!”
[We will live and we will win!].

In response to the other face of illness, which is death, comandante Chavez has given sufficient proof of having challenged it with courage on many occasions. Even on the 11th of April, 2002, when he was kidnapped and held hostage by the fascist powers that placed him on the very edge of death, having been unable to obtain –either through force or seduction– the signature of his resignation as president.

The shame or fear of “assuming a sense of ridicule”.

Chavez has gone beyond the frontiers of the fear of ridicule.
He breaks with protocols here and there. He talks, he sings, he dances, he shouts and plays around his own discourse. He makes fun of his own English pronunciation, in order to make clear that Americans and Brits don’t pronounce Spanish too well either when they come here. Nor do the French or the Germans make such a good show of Spanish pronunciation.

When the bourgeois guys make up some anti-Chavez joke, he picks it up like a baseball in the glove, he tells it himself, he disarms it and throws it back at them, deflated, like an unexpected home run. Not without first unmasking its racist and classist, as well as Eurocentric, and –last but not least- patriarchal content.   

8.- EIGHTH COLONIAL DISCRACE: The shame of being Venezuelan, not just in the political sphere, but even in things such as sport. Everything that came from outside was always better. This is a problem that has not been altogether resolved, because it has roots that date back almost half a millennium. But there is no doubt that there is a new pride in being Venezuelan.

Recovering our pride in being Venezuelans implies resolving these nine variations of our colonial disgrace, beginning with the pride of being Amerindian; of the legacy of our original peoples, and our indigenous descent.

The shame of being “Sudaca” [pejorative term for South Americans used by Europeans].

It’s a feeling of induced shame, which dates back to the earliest days of the colonial conquest.  Already in his time, Francisco Miranda spoke of the mortal sin of being born in the Americas. Bolivar spoke of that “denatured stepmother” in reference to Spain, and of our people as its ill-treated and oppressed “stepson”.  However, our academic institutions used to impose on us the narrative of Spain as our supposed “mother country”.

In response to our overcoming of this shame of being “Sudaca”, the current King of Spain shouts to Chavez in a Summit in Chile: “Why don’t you shut up?” Chavez’ Bolivarian reply to that order of “Shut up, you Amerindian!” is simply: Our North is the South. The South looks to the South: Latin America and Africa, as well as the Middle East.


     The surpassing of the shame of being colonised must open our eyes to feeling and thinking more about our diversities, in order to achieve inclusiveness; starting from the unity and diversity of our peoples, working teams, political factors and social movements; where the PSUV [United Socialist Party of Venezuela] and other parties of the Bolivarian alliance are present, but not just the party, as Chavez himself has emphasised on various occasions. There isn’t just one historical subject or actor on the scene. There is a host of men and women who have been rendered invisible over generations. It’s not just the ‘proletariat’.  There is a written history, which has been imposed on us, and an oral one, yet unwritten, still in the murmur of our peoples –although it has already begun to be heard and written with the direct participation of its own actors, who had previously been erased and excluded.  There are indigenous communities, sections of African descent, women’s movements, coupled with an as yet subtle sense of being heirs to a rich Amerindian legacy; embodying a dialectical tension between our ancestry and our contemporary life, as different faces of the same process, and of its historical present; the need for liberation theologies as a challenge to a pseudo-evangelizing crusade at a global scale, fostered and financed by the great centres of World power; environmental movements that are emerging in response to the planet’s imbalances and developmentalism; peasants of Amerindian and African descent, and in some places, of European ancestry in more visible rural and urban pockets, in the context of our present sense of being Venezuelans and of our multiple and mixed heritage. And, finally, the need to open our eyes, in order to understand that, if the processes of integration in our America or ‘Abya Yala’ are to have the Good Life as their ultimate purpose, we have to find the keys to progressively uproot unsound Developmentalist policies, from the heart of revolution and of social change, as part of the ultimate surpassing of all forms of internal Colonialism.

Saúl Rivas Rivas

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Reason No. 5

For his kisses and hugs
He is the first president who truly identifies with his people, he's ours. We feel we're on the same level.
He's also really on the ball, nothing passes him by; he's switched on about everything.
What's more, he has a great humanitarian capacity and shows true solidarity; which is why he always expresses his love for his country and his people.
He feels no disgust for anyone, which means he can hug a well done-up lady just as much as someone who is not clean; he hugs the slimy man, and anyone who is ill.
I remember that he once wanted to meet a girl with cancer, and he gave her a big hug and a kisss, treating her with true, spontaneous tenderness.
It's not the usual fake kiss or hug of your run-of-the-mill politician.
Grandma Dora

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

My reason is Chavez himself

Reason No. 4
  My reason is Chavez himself: his sensibility, his attitude in terms of social consciousness, the best promoter of books, deep down a poet and outwardly a creator; all of this blended into the love he feels for his people, and as no other leader in history that I've known of during the few years of life. ¡Our great 'comandante'! Enrique Hernández D' Jesús

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Reason No. 3

Objective reasons and reasons of the heart.
It's easy to reply to the question, what's more difficult is to arrange the reasons. For me, there are two kinds. First, the objective reasons, which can be felt through the material improvements in the living conditions of our population, such as the steady increase in our minimum wage, the battle for attaining balanced economic indicators, the significant reduction of poverty and extreme poverty levels, the increasing empowerment of people, while dignifying our international profile and making sure that our voice is increasingly heard and recognised, without fear, in defending not just our own sovereignty, but that our great American brotherhood of peoples, etc.
All of these statements are probably better handled by other people, organizations, etc.
I would like to concentrate on the reazons of the heart, and that is what the opposition does not get; the fact that we have reasons of the heart to vote for Chavez.
Some of these reasons boil down to the fact that Chavez symbolises what for me is the most authentic expression of the Venezuelan character: a tireless fighter, unsubmissive, and at the same time with such a tenderness it sometimes turns into innocence; the best expression of Venezuelan frankness, which at times is shocking, but is always authentic.
I see him, and I see myself reflected in him. I see my brothers, my sisters, or in better words, I see the best of us reflected in Chavez.
Chavez is the idealisation of the father, the image of the mother. He is the person that pushes us not to give up, after everyone used to tell us we couln't make it.
He is the hope of better times. Not an illusion of hope, but hope in a very Venezuelan sense: that where "God helps those that help themselves"; where we recognise that we have achieved a great deal, but a lot more remains to be done.
He stands for the positive reaffirmation of aknowledging ourselves as different, now with a true respect for those differences; of knowing that we are Black, Amerindian, White, and at the same time one people.

I vote for Chavez because my mother, for the first time in her long 73 years, believes in politics and in political activism, and got up on the 10th of June to accompany the registration of Chavez at the CNE (National Electoral Council), because -for her- that's what she can do for him.

With Chávez I know we have achieved much, but with Chavez, I am also certain that we will achieve a great deal more, because that's what we decide; because we are now truly independent and sovereign.

Carmín Navas R. 

Monday, 2 July 2012

Reason No. 2

My main reason to vote for the guy is that I know the history of my country and can see that this is a stellar moment for the people of Venezuela. For Chavez to remain in Miraflores (the presidential palace) means the guarantee for us as a people in uproar to keep building the country we never had; the country taken away from us by the rich, and by anglo-saxon powers.

Chavez has to continue his mission, and we ours, which is basically the same: to push the wagon of history so that this country never again returns to the hands of multimillionaires, to the powerful. Chavez represents the advent of the poor people at the time when we will save our mother country, and with it that portion of humanity which may see us as their example.

José Roberto Duque. "El Duque".

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Little red riding hood tells us why she votes for Chavez

Reason No. 1

In 1998, I had had enough of so much misery. I remember that 80% of us then voted for Chavez, but they stole heaps of votes from us. I know this, because I was a witness at a polling station. He's the only president we've had that has worried about educating his people, and developing social missions: Robinson Mission, Rivas Mission; and the Simón Bolívar satellite. Do you know how valuable that is for a people? He has been the only president who has taken the initiative to launch a satellite, and now he's going to launch another one, because he knows that our people need education, health and decent access to food.

¿Who said "fear"?

God has good sense in what he does, given that with the president's illness, those dunces have become so pathetic that they have even made fun of his affliction, revealing their own ignorance. They haven't had the remotest consideration that can be had towards a human being who is ill. They were so stupid that they said the president had to submit a health certificate, in order to register his candidacy at the CNE (National Electoral Council), in a display of evil.
Capriles lifted up his shirt to show that he was healthy and then went on to faint in some other place. He's human too, and we're all exposed to getting ill. He appears to ignore the fact that Chavez was young too, and remains young, given he has a very good mixed indigenous and african heritage, which gives him a lot of physical strength.

Caperucita Roja ("Little red riding hood"), Chacao. 72 years old.  

Photo: Courtesy, PSUV Miranda