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domingo, 23 de octubre de 2011

Fernando Mires: a Chilean philosopher reflects on the Venezuelan situation

From the Spanish : http://polisfmires.blogspot.com/2011/10/fernando-mires-venezuela-un-callejon.html
I have translated a portion of the reflections of the Chilean philosopher Fernando Mires on Venezuela, in the hope they are read by non-spanish speaking people interested in what is going on in my country. Mires is an acute and articulate observer of Latin American politics and his reflections carry much credibility, as they are devoid of the passion that readers could adscribe to Venezuelans writing on the same topic. This is what he says.

VENEZUELA: A labyrinth with a way out.
Every time I travel to Venezuela I can hardly resist the temptation to write about a multiplicity of topics. At the airport, for example, I imagined I could write a piece about the swarm of red-shirted staff in whose backs one can read slogans about the revolution. They remind me of the boys who distribute propaganda at the door of supermarkets. Or about the spectacle offered to car travelers [in their way to the city] of the hundreds of houses crumbling down, one on top of the other. How can a “socialist” government that posseses such a wealth of resources manage to increase visual urban misery exponentially?

Or should I write about the streets overflowing with trash, about the residential areas that were once beautiful, now converted in nauseating swamps? Or, when I arrive to the hotel and put the TV on, I ask myself: Should I write about the colorless, boring, monotonous programs of state-controlled stations, so similar to that swallowed by Cubans who have not been able to flee the island of happiness? Incidentally, talking about Cubans, should I write about the insult to Venezuelan sovereignty , when – hard to believe - I see the photograph that shows the Cuban flag waving in the Paramacay Barracks [located in Valencia, Venezuela], in precedence to the Venezuelan flag?.

Or should I have to write about how, when changing some euros to have a coffee, the vendor insists in giving me 12 bolivars to an euro, instead of the official exchange of 5 bolivars to an euro? Or write that, because of this encounter, I finally understand what is meant by “popular capitalism”? Venezuela today is, in effect, the perfect synthesis of the worst in “real socialism” and the most grotesque of “savage capitalism”. Almost as great an accomplishment as having the highest inflation in the hemisphere together with one of the highest planetary incomes.

I arrive to the university and find my old friends and colleagues. Shall I write that I find them tired, some of them already ill? Evidently the government is trying to destroy the system of higher education, the nucleus of the national intellect. Since 2007 the budget for universities remains frozen in an inflationary environment that averages 30-35 percent per year.The majority of academicians live deeply in debt, their money is simply insufficient. Some try to find additional jobs but, in doing this, their ability to do research and teaching suffers. If the government wins the presidential elecions in 2012 they will have no other alternative than to emigrate o, simply, surrender and accept the conditions imposed by the uncouth regime. For the regime the destruction of the universities is equal – in their military language – to occupy strategically one of the bastions of the burgoisie.

However, in spite of their importance I will not write today about any of those topics. I am going to write about the next elections…….

Mires goes on, in this essay, to write about the next Venezuelan presidential elections and leaves us with an optimistic message. He is certain that the democratic candidate who will be elected in the February 2012 primaries can and will win the elections in October 2012. This explains the title.
The Venezuelan labyrinth, he says, has a way out.

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