when eva golinger came to speak to us i asked her if, because there is such a huge divide between the opposition and people who support chavez, if chavez was working towards mending that gap at all by applying to their moral sensibilities to help those who are in need
she said something that really resonated with me. she said there was no moral appeal because they have no sense of community and they have the luxury of driving around in their cars and ignoring everyone´s lives and problems but their own.
that sense of community is essential to leading a proactive lifestyle with a built in set of moral checks and balances. the u.s. sufferes from the same convenience of ignorance.
i´m beginning to notice a lot of interesting differences (aka stereotypes) that i´ve been building up between the people that support chavez and those who do not.
a lot of the english students at UPEL at least plan on voting no on the ammendment for indefinite re-elections. i think it was robyn who explained to me that part of the english curriculum here is being taught to appreciate english speaking countries and they watch a whole lot of american t.v.. i mean, i think everyone here watches a lot of american t.v., but
meanwhile, those whom i´ve met involved in the art and cultural scenes and those who feel a rich connection to their community and compatriots tend to support chavez.
the workshop i went to on socialist values that nanu took me to on saturday was full of accepting, inclusive, compassionate people who were being productive and active and educating themselves and others on how to hold themselves accountable for their lives and the wellbeing of their comrades. taking it upon themselves to be involved in problem solving actions and a part of a greater community, not just locally, but as a venezuelan. there was a lot of national pride in the room.
there was a lot of united states bashing going on, too. they kept calling us the bourgeoisie, blood-thirsty, ignorant, etc.. that´s when i raised my hand and explained, crying a tiny bit in the beginning, that it really hurt me to hear my country used as an example of the ultimate evil in the world, when it is our government that they are referring to, and not our people. our government is systematically oppressing consciousness and human values, promotes conformity, and is non-representative of the peoples´ wants and needs, and it has grown so powerful that even its own citizens are completely overwhelmed by the idea of fighting against it.
i also got the opportunity to speak on the radio the other day, radio crepuscular 99.5, and i said something along those same lines.
when i started to talk about how important it was for the people of venezuela realize how special it is to have that kind of support from the government, an emphasis on virtues and education, and that so much power was in the hands of the people, i started to tear up again. it was an absolutely unbelievable thing to me before i came here and saw it for myself, and it is moving and inspiring
it´s so hard to have american pride these days, and it´s so important!
"sin orgullo en tu propio país, no vas a luchar para esa país"
without pride in your own country, you will not fight for that country.
critical analysis of your government is an essential part of being a patriot. the more your government lets you down, the more you need to fight for what´s right, right?
i realized how incredibly lucky everyone in that room was for having a government that supports moral responsibility, education, consciousness raising, and local culture. i wish the people of my country could only just taste that kind of systematic human support and empowerment for a second so that they could realize that their fight isn´t hopeless, and that it is absolutely necessary.
these are some of my venezuelan workshop buddies in coco e´ mono. that´s my friend nanu next to me in the blue skirt.
i realize i sound like a biased chavista right now, but i have spent my fair amount of time talking with the opposition trying to hear and understand their perspective as well. i even interviewed the leader of the student opposition movement at UPEL, whose name is Rocco, with a few other kids in the evergreen crew.
Rocco is with EUL - estudiantes unidos por la libertad (students united for liberty)
there are about 70 students in this movement in barquisimeto and they claim to be a group of students who care about their country, and want to educate young people in politics. they aren´t affiliated with any political party, but are generally right-leaning and are very open to everyone who don´t know much about politics and are against chavez.
this movement started with the non-renewal of the government sponsorship contract of the extremely biased and innacurate, openly manipulative television station RCTV.
we asked if it was an issue of freedom of speech, or why they acted against this now, when venezuela has a history of extreme censorship. he said he didn´t really know what it was about, exactly.
even he acknowledged how horrible the station is.
chavez was not really censoring anything, by the way, the channel is still on the air, but now it´s cable access, instead of being broadcasted by gov´t funded antennaes. and chavez didn´t shut it down after their incredibly irresponsible coverage of several important national issues, including the presidential coup, during which they only aired cartoons instead of the news. he let the contract run out its course.
Rocco is against chavez´s personality, and the fact that he was destroying ties to the more powerful (and in his mind, more potentially helpful) nations and international corporations. he said that chavez should stop donating to poor latin american countries and instead create alliances with the U.S. and big business. he had no concept of the history of exploitation and the ongoing oppressive gameplan of the capitalist empire.
these are opposition pamphlets handed out to illustrate how chavez is wasting venezuela´s money supporting other nations in need. (including supplying thousands of gallons of heating oil to indigenous reservations in the U.S. and to those who couldn´t afford heat in boston and the bronx during the winter). however, they fail to acknowledge the fact that those oil dollars are more in the hands of the venezuelan people through social programs than they ever were before: free education at all levels, healthcare, micro-loans, affordable food, and even wages for stay-at-home single mothers, just to name a few.
he believed that all the good things should stay, like the missions and the mercal, but he doesn´t want people to become too dependent on the government. there is also a serious problem with a lack of accountability with where the money goes when it is provided for small cooperatives to create their own businesses. he said he basically wanted someone just like chavez but with a more cautious and respectable/respectful demeanor.
this is a common ideal among the opposition, a lot of people here have serious problems with the way chavez talks and acts so impulsively. i agree, he sounds like a lunatic instead of a leader sometimes. however, until someone like chavez but better comes along, the premature booting of the leader of all of these insightful and empowering changes makes me really nervous.
then rocco´s mom walked in mid-interview. she is a ballet teacher and she went off talking about how thanks to chavez her studio is being subsidized by the gov´t and now poor children can afford to take her classes and have access to more free things, like dance performances.
he started to mistranslate her and leave out whole sentences. when we told him to translate her straight, he started to preface everything she said with his own leading statement. this took away a lot of his credibility for me... i guess he didn´t realize that a few of us spoke spanish pretty well.
anyway, i guess my point is that yes, chavez isn´t perfect
but the opposition often doesn´t have a concept of the greater picture, that things may take time, or such a great sense of national pride
that is a generalization but it is late here so i want to stop elaborating and go to bed... people probably aren´t reading this anyway because there´s too much text and i´m rambling.
but, finally, here is a quote that we read aloud during the values and virtues workshop, which was really right-on:
¡Democracia es esta en que tú, campesino, cuentas y recibes la tierra que hemos recobrado de las manos extranjeras usureras que las explotaban! ¡Democracia es esta en que tú, obrero agrícola azucarero, recibes 80 mil caballerías de tierra para que no tengas que vivir en guardarrayas! ¡Democracia es esta en que tú, trabajador, tienes asegurado tu derecho al trabajo sin que te puedan echar a la calle a pasar hambre! ¡Democracia es esta en que tú, estudiante pobre, tienes la oportunidad de sacar un título universitario si eres inteligente aunque no seas rico! ¡Democracia es esta en que tú, hijo de obrero, o hijo de campesino, o hijo de cualquier familia humilde, tienes una maestra y tienes una escuela donde poder educarte! ¡Democracia es esta en que tú, anciano, tendrás asegurado tu sustento cuando ya no te puedas valer por tu propio esfuerzo! ¡Democracia es esta en que tú, cubano negro, tienes derecho al trabajo, sin que nadie te lo pueda arrebatar por estúpidos prejuicios! ¡Democracia es esta donde tú, mujer, adquieres la plena igualdad con todos los demás ciudadanos y tienes derecho hasta a empuñar un arma para defender tu patria junto con los hombres! ¡Democracia es esta en que un gobierno convierte las fortalezas en escuelas, que le quiere construir una casa a cada familia para que cada familia tenga techo!
¡Democracia es esta que quiere para cada enfermo el médico que lo atienda! ¡Democracia es esta que no recluta a un campesino para volverlo soldado, corromperlo y convertirlo en enemigo del obrero, de su propio hermano campesino, sino que convierte al soldado, en un defensor de los privilegios, sino en un defensor de los derechos de sus hermanos, los campesinos y los obreros! ¡Democracia es esta que no divide al pueblo en sectores humildes, enfrentándolos unos a los otros! ¡Democracia es esta en que un gobierno busca la fuerza del pueblo y la une! ¡Democracia es esta que hace fuerte al pueblo porque lo une! ¡Democracia es esta que les entrega un fusil a los campesinos, y les entrega un fusil a los obreros, y les entrega un fusil a los estudiantes, y les entrega un fusil a las mujeres, y les entrega un fusil a los negros, y les entrega un fusil a los pobres y le entrega un fusil a cuanto ciudadano este dispuesto a defender una causa justa!
¡Democracia es ésta en que no sólo cuentan los derechos de la mayoría, sino que les entrega las armas a esa mayoría! ¡Y eso sólo lo puede lograr un gobierno, realmente democrático, donde las mayorías gobiernan!".
Fidel Castro Ruz.
i hastily translated this, in case you english speakers are interested in what it says:
"Democracy is that in which the majority governs; democracy is that in which the majority counts; democracy is that in which the interests of the majorities are defended; democracy is that that guarantees the man, not just the right to think freely, but the right to know to think; the right to know to write down what they or others think; the right to bread, the right to work, the right to culture and the right to count within society. Democracy, therefore, is this, democracy of the Cuban Revolution!
Democracy is this in which you, the farmer, count and you receive the land that we have recovered from the usurious foreign hands that exploited that land! Democracy is this in which you, agricultural sugar laborer, you receive 80 thousand cavalries of land so that do not have to live in boundaries! Democracy is this in which you, the worker, have the assurance of your right to work without the risk of being thrown out into the street to be hungry! Democracy is this in which you, poor student, have the opportunity to receive a university degree if are intelligent although not rich! Democracy is this in which you, son of the laborer, or son of the peasant, or son of any humble family, you have a teacher and have a school that is able to educate you! Democracy is this in which you, the elderly, will have the guarantee that you will be supported when you can no longer work to support yourself! Democracy is this in which you, black Cuban, you have the right to work, without anybody snatching it from you because of stupid prejudices! Democracy is this where you, woman, acquire full equality with all other citizens and you even have the right to seize a weapon to defend your country along with the men! Democracy is this in which a government converts the fortresses in schools, a government that wants to build a house for each family so that each family has a roof!
Democracy is this that wants for each sick person a doctor to attend to him! Democracy is this that does not recruit a peasant to turn him into a soldier, to corrupt them and to convert them to an enemy of the laborer, of his own rural brother, but he converts the soldier into a defender of privileges, as such, a defender of the rights of his brothers, the peasants and the laborers! Democracy is this that does not divide to the town in humble sectors, turning them against one another! Democracy is this in which a government seeks the force of the town and unites it! Democracy is this that strengthens the town because it unites it! Democracy is this that delivers a rifle to the peasants, and delivers a rifle to the laborers, and delivers a rifle to the students, and delivers a rifle to the women, and delivers a rifle to the blacks, and delivers a rifle to the poor and delivers a rifle to as many citizens as are willing to defend a just cause!
Democracy is this in which the majority´s rights are not the only rights that count, but delivers the weapons to that majority! And that´s something a government can only achieve if it´s truly democratic, where the majorities govern!".
Fidel Castro Ruz.
apparently i am listening to music of the opposition right now, but it´s really catchy
calle 13 - no hay nadie como tu