Sunday, 12 August 2012

Because I don't want to be invisible again

About three days ago, I was invited to write, in simple terms, a reason why I'd vote in favour of president Chavez; currently candidate, and the object of this write-up. A very good friend girl, of those friends you think of as having known your whole life, even if you've just met, suggested the idea and I accepted with excitement.

I straight away began to think about the precise words, the commas, the full stops, the accents, and the dramatic moments of those primitive ideas, and right there, only seconds after beginning to ponder the task at hand, an immediate problem sprang up. What single reason could I choose from the thousands I could muster? What profile should it have? What qualities did it need, in order to be placed above all the other possible reasons?

So I saw myself up against the conflicts that emerge when you contrast an idea with another, all of which, to my mind, are of vital importance for our nation, for all Venezuelans, and -without wishing to sound romantic or cliché- for our entire continent: the social missions, our liberty and sovereignty (true freedom and sovereignty), the meeting of social help demands, our constant efforts as a country for greater regional integration, the battle, as a political and social process, to raise world awareness about the terrible and more than proven consequences that the Capitalist system has inflicted on our ecosystems, and on the delicate balance that makes life possible on our planet; the trascendental and radical shift in World History, following the skewed vision we had of it, the economic, political, sporting, technological, social and cultural awakening that Venezuela has had, and its impact for Latin America; and if I continue, the list would never end.
But this morning, on waking up, a phrase by Eduardo Galeano came to my mind, which transported me to that conference where, with his particular measured and intelligent voice, he spoke about that very strange and peculiar "dictator" that Chavez is for the Venezuelan bourgeoisie and for world elites. A poor Venezuelan who was interviewed at some point in our recent times, said simply: "I don't want Chavez to go, because I don't want to be invisible again."

And what a great phrase that is, not just because of its social weight and power, nor because of its enormous emotional content, but because, to all practical and real effects, in this modern society of people made invisible, it takes on an incalculable philosophical dimension. Probably that man (the one who said the phrase), wasn't thinking about philosophical questions, or currents of world thought, nor was he trying to sound clever, in terms of a well rehearsed answer to a question. He was talking straight from his heart, and he summed up one of the most important reasons that could ever have existed for any Revolutionary on this side of the planet. How many of us, and for how long, were simply a statistic? How many were just a piece of paper in a cardboard box, which used to perpetuate the white [Acción Democrática] or green [COPEI] party in power? How many of us were only heard of when they did a demographic census? Who could, in times gone by, make opinions, or dare to make opinions about politics or about Government, without fearing or suffering repression, persecution, or even assassination or being made to disappear? How many voices silenced during those awful times when the Right badly governed?

Every four years somebody different, or not so different, came to power, to promise, in Alí Primera, "our right to our little right".

I remember how the social help any of those governments boasted so much about, barely amounted to handing you a little quarter of milk, a Caribe notebook, a quadrant, an eraser, a pencil-sharpener and a pencil, now and again. Some times there was a little arepa [corn bread] along with the quarter of milk, or an extra pencil. But with a little arepa at every electoral event, you couldn't feed a people who was dying of hunger and neglect; who had to endure endless queues for a cube of water on some forgotten hillside slum, overpopulated thanks to the deceptive promise of Capital.

I don't want Chavez to go either, because nowadays we are no longer invisible. We can finally have an opinion, and opinions certainly have been expressed in Venezuela over the past 13 years; we have made firm and giant steps forward in the mass access to culture, and socio-cultural events, mostly free-entry, are organized in communities every weekend, the Librerías del Sur [Southern Book Shops] network, where thousands of books are sold at fair prices; radio and TV programmes that are directed, created and produced by and for the most disadvantaged; where Empowerment takes on its highest expression through communal councils, which receive funds to carry out works for the improvement of their communities; free health for the poorest communities and/or those most distant from state capitals; food at fair and supportive prices; free quality education. Those of us from below are, without doubt, no longer invisible.

The world clearly changed. The peoples' drive and their just struggles, in the quest for their own sovereignties and liberties, was reborn 13 years ago, when our president told the empires: "Venezuela now and forever belongs, firstly, to Venezuelans". From that moment onwards, Latin America, and South America in particular, began to be recognised throughout the world. We are no longer just as a backyard, playground, or a big mine to extract resources from; we are a brotherhood of sovereign peoples, who cry out together to the old system: we no longer want you, Capital; and we shout out to the old vices that we do not accept any more hunger, pain or exploitation; any more wars, destruction, lies and inequality.

For this reason mainly, and for a thousand more, I remain enormously convinced that my vote will contribute to our ongoing visibility. At last, after so many years, I feel that my actions are of vital importance, that I am not just a work beast that is blindly led to the electoral slaughterhouse. I am aware, now more than ever, that when I prss that button on October 7th, I will be saying 'yes' to the social missions and to social investment; 'yes' to our fair and supportive economic system, 'yes' to our right to be sovereign and free, and above all, 'yes' to our supreme right to Happiness. It's no secret that there have been great difficulties, that the struggle has been neither smooth nor easy. But what historical process of such proportions can ever be straightforward?
Onwards and and upwards, comrades! Your vote is the most important of all that can have been cast in our history. We are the majority, and we are no longer invisible...
On October 7th there can be no single Venezuelan who doesn't go out and vote!

Freedom, freedom and more freedom! Our sovereignty is ours, at last...

Alberto Plaza