Today, Venezuela faces another presidential election, its second in less than a year. And while many in the local and foreign private media are already calling it for Capriles like FUX Snooze did for Dubya in Florida 2000 (remember?), a very different truth is emerging on the ground. This week, Aporrea published an opinion piece from a former opposition supporter, María Alejandra Fernández, which caused a sensation on that site, becoming one of its most-read op-eds ever. It reveals some rather remarkable things that I doubt you will be seeing in our media up here, so I’ll take the liberty of reproducing it for you here:
It’s strange to be writing with the intent of publishing on a website which for years used to send me into rages. I am a Venezuelan, a professional for several years, graduated with honors from a recognized private university here. I don’t work directly in my profession, because I manage a local business from which I earn enough to lead a comfortable life.
I live in the east of Caracas. I was taught from childhood to love my neighbors, and honesty. I was a very innocent girl, which caused me to be deceived as to the human quality of many people. I’ve always been interested in social issues, since I think we all must have a role to play in this life, and this role is either social or it is nothing. Albert Einstein said “Only a life which is lived in service of others, is worth living.”
I always found it detestable how, in the 1990s, the great majority of the people in my country had not the least access either to healthy food, much less other resources necessary for life, knowing how the income from the oil bonanza was significant and one sector of society had those resources all to themselves.
I never had a very good impression of Chávez from the outset. My conservative family called him things like a “violent lunatic” and at my age, I was unable to analyze this more deeply.
Well, I know that this publication will cause me serious problems with my family. It doesn’t matter to me. I have to say that I’m tired of it. I’m tired of how the opposition, for whom I voted so many times (including last October 7) lies at every moment, all the time, without any serious consequences.
I remember how in 2002 they told me we would lose control over our own children. This caused me great anxiety and I felt a real hatred for Chávez. Every time he appeared on TV I cursed him, and changed the channel. That’s how I came to be. I almost never saw him.
When Chávez died, I was alone at home. I started to think: Was this man, really, deserving of all my hate? Wasn’t he, maybe, always coherent and sincere when it came to all his intentions and ideas? Didn’t he really live up to all the vows he made? With all these doubts, I confess, since I am a voracious reader and inveterate student, I decided to investigate and read in the most objective manner possible to recreate for myself a political criterion with the least possible bias.
Then, ladies and gentlemen….You can’t imagine how much I cried. I set out in a very objective way to seek information and videos of every kind, I read negative criticisms of Chávez, but without bias, I read the positive ones, the vision which I had despised for so long.
I must confess that I am deeply sorry for having opposed his mandate and for having cursed him so. He was a man with flaws, but, definitively, Chávez changed the political history of my country and he changed it for the better. That is something objective, palpable, demonstrable.
After having been in that state of shock, I began to ask myself: How is it possible that for so many years, a person like me, who considered myself intelligent, graduated with honors, could have been deceived like that? Because yes, they deceived me.
In no part of any of Chávez’s speeches, nor those of any Bolivarian speaker, did anyone say that the government planned to take away our children. The problem was bias. The media I read painted Chávez as a villain and that was it. And so I believed, because “it must be true, it was in the papers.”
For that reason, everything that was said about him, always negative, was automatically believed. And every week, some new commentary came out that struck terror. In me, they succeeded. And believe me, I never wanted anything bad for my country, quite the contrary. That’s how they kept filling us with doubts, fears and RAGE.
Once I read how they maybe wanted to throw us out of our homes. I believed it like a fool. Another time, I read that they would deny us credit for buying cars. And so, I made up a long list of things I remembered that caused me outrage, and which, curiously, NEVER came to be. Everything was false, to make us afraid.
And lamentably, much of the middle class, which had worked hard to get what they had, felt threatened by the government, through some error in the speeches of government spokespeople who didn’t know to distinguish the super-rich “bourgeoisie” from the middle class, which only works and lives comfortably. But fundamentally, the people felt threatened because of the media. May of the falsehoods which I believed, no one from the Chavista sector had said; always it was the private media.
So I started to think about many things. I recalled the items which insinuated that the government would take away our shops, that the government would prohibit us from owning two cars. I ask of the oppositionists who are reading me: Do you realize how many years they’ve been fooling you? I realized.
On the other hand, I tought: Chávez said “I’m going to start a housing mission”, and every day they gave people houses. Chávez said in the 1990s: “I’m going to make profound changes” and, do you remember? He did make profound changes. Always, from the 1990s onward (I found videos) Chávez took JUST ONE LINE, and always, he followed through. Look for videos, if you like, of Chávez on YouTube, on Oscar Yánez’s show. All, ALL of his campaign promises, he kept.
The truth is on Chávez’s side. I have not the slightest doubt. What I do have is a profound regret for not having listened to Chávez all those times and for not having contributed ideas toward the construction of this country which, I now understand, belongs to everyone. And it belongs to everyone not because I say so, but because it’s the truth. We all can use the medical system from the health mission, my neighbors vote for the opposition and they buy Orinoco cars. Instead of taking away the small shops, the government has closed NOT ONE, and has created incentives for new businesses. It is, for the first time in history, pushing national production. I suddenly began to see all that I had not seen before.
Yes, there are MANY problems. But many of those are not the fault of Chávez or the Chávez government. Insecurity, for example. The brother of a friend was killed a few years ago. After an investigation, it became known that one of those involved was a 25-year-old militant of [the opposition group] Voluntad Popular. Could anyone say that the homicides are the fault of Chávez and Maduro when the triggerman was a member of the opposition? Could anyone maybe say that it was the fault of the opposition? The answer, in both cases, is NO. The fault, aside from all cultural and structural causes, lies with him who pulled the trigger, and no one else.
Someone might say: The state is responsible for guaranteeing security. I reply: Yes, that’s true. And I ask myself: Has Chavismo made efforts? The reply, without any doubt, is an overwhelming YES. They created a UNIVERSITY exclusively dedicated to the issue of security, they are graduating thousands of police, they are working on the structural causes. This canNOT be denied.
The subject of oil, which, according to my studies, is the most important one in our economy, was rescued by Chávismo from all possible viewpoints. I have had the opportunity to study the matter. The transformations have happened from the ground up. I remember, as a little girl, seeing MANY malnourished children in the city, and now I don’t see even one. There are still poor children, but as a country, I sense that we are on the right track. Because you can’t reverse so much misery with just the stroke of a pen, that I have been able to think over, reflect upon, and understand.
Finally, I want to make an appeal to all people of good will who are absolutely in the opposition. I come from there, I know there is good will in many people who vote for the opposition. Many people want peace, tranquility, prosperity, and an end to poverty. What there is not much of there, is critical and profound reflection, self-criticism. You, friends, cousins who are reading this, students at UCAB, USM, UCV: Don’t go on being fooled. Look for materials, search the archives, be critical, reflect, have ideas, but let them be your own, researched. Question all rumors which come to you, no matter what. Don’t be fooled as I was fooled. Don’t hate me, you know that I respect you and that I want the best for Venezuela. Respect me and let me make my case. Be sincere with yourselves. Complexify your thoughts; those who are good in mathematics will know what I mean by “complexify”.
Don’t believe that if Capriles wins (which ALL the polls strongly deny), a stroke of his pen will make all the problems disappear. On the contrary, there will be a terrible conflict because it is clear that Capriles, in Miranda, interfered with the missions, and if he becomes president some day, it will be worse. The people of this land, who have been able to go to school thanks to Chávez, who have been able to work thanks to Chávez, who have better health thanks to Chávez — all those people won’t stand for losing those things and having them privatized. And that’s exactly Capriles’s plan, privatization; read it, I read it, read both of them. All of them. Don’t believe that the criminals will say “Now that Capriles has won, we’ll stop killing and robbing”. The problem is MUCH more complicated than that. I don’t believe a fanatical Chavista will take away their electricity.
The problems are complex. Don’t believe that Capriles will be a better president, since he has been a PATHETIC governor. I have a cousin who has a lovely daughter with a serious heart condition, and the little girl is alive thanks to the children’s hospital [that Chávez built], because my cousin lost her resources, she sold her apartment to take her for treatment in the US…Do you know why she sold her apartment? So she wouldn’t have to take the girl to a Chavista hospital. When she had no money left, she took the little one to the Children’s Cardiac Care Centre because she had no options left. The beautiful girl is alive thanks to that hospital. She didn’t pay a cent. She, my cousin Aracelis, will also vote for Maduro. We no longer hate Chávez, my dear cousin; that’s better. Want to see how the hospital came to be? Watch this, I saw it live on TV, my cousin agrees, and I cried:
Another thing: There is nothing more false to say than that this system of government is dictatorial, as many have said. I have friends who come from Spain and say that there’s democracy there, when there’s a king whom no one elected and the government is against the majority of the people, while they say that here there’s a dictatorship when there’s at least one election every year and the participation of the people in EVERYTHING is undeniable. Many of my friends are oppositionists because it’s the thing to do, not from principle. Pardon me, but it’s true!
I will vote for Maduro, in honor of that man who, though he had his faults, was a GIANT in the history of the world…and because I won’t let the same people who tricked me for years to go on tricking me. The Chávez project is represented by Maduro, and there is no rumor strong enough to belie this great truth. How I regret not having realized it sooner. Thank you, Chávez, for all you gave to your poor people, now I understand why those people love you with such a passion.
Sirs, you have taken a great weight from my shoulders. Thank you so much.
María Alejandra is by no means alone. A few days ago I posted an article and some videos about some other former oppositionists who have also done some soul-searching and come to the same conclusion: The Bolivarian project is working, Venezuela is changing for the better thanks to Chávez, and the only “transition” that can occur now, the only one that should take place, is toward a deeper and more widespread form of the same.
Capriles not only can’t do that, he wouldn’t do anything but the opposite. His only plan is the same disastrous old one that threw Venezuela into the crisis that spurred Chávez to action in the first place, back in February of 1992. All Capriles wants to do is privatize everything that Chávez either nationalized or built from the ground up. Everything, including the children’s cardiological centre that saved the cousin’s daughter for no charge. In other words: Capriles would have forced María Alejandra’s cousin to do the same things that the privatized US healthcare system would: sell off all she had, go bankrupt…and still not get enough care for the little girl.
And to think the opposition media demonized Chavecito as a stealer of houses and children? What a joke.
But here’s the real key to everything: When the media have a corporate agenda, of course they’re going to do everything in the corporate interest. Including lying. And even intelligent, educated people can fall for it if they’re not highly media-aware. María Alejandra found that out the hard way, and sadly very late, after Chavecito was already gone. She’s wiser now, and that’s going to make a huge difference. As more people open their eyes, I think we’ll be hearing more stories like hers.
And when today’s election results are in, and they show an overwhelming victory for Nicolás Maduro, at least you, dear reader — unlike your corporate media crapaganda peddlers — won’t be wondering why anymore. Just like María Alejandra.
PS: Looks like María Alejandra’s article was very impressive outside of Venezuela, too. Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, recently tweeted that everyone should read it. So there you go. What better endorsement do you need?