Ana Julia Jatar wrote this excellent article which was published in
yesterday’s El Nacional (by subscription) and you can also find the
original in Spanish in her website. Here is my translation:
President…What are you laughing at? by Ana Julia Jatar
When I see
the Venezuelan President smile with joy and satisfaction when signing an
economic agreement with his counterparts of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, it
reminds me immediately of the words of that famous protest song that Soledad
Bravo used to perform entitled “Mister Minister, what are you laughing at?,
dedicated to all of those that reach the heights of power and forget the
poverty and anguish of those “down below”.
of the President and his presents to other countries has an impact when you
contrast it with the desperate cries of the mothers of the prisoners at the La
Pica prison. Those poor mothers clinging to the bars of the jail, as if it were
an imaginary rope that is tied to her son at the other end and that, when she
holds on to it, may help her prevent that he may be taken away by that horror.
It just so happens that those women do not know if their loved ones may be
among the nine dead. In the face of that mistreatment and in the absence of
information on the part of the authorities, they can’t even manage to see among
the decapitated and burned bodies that were thrown at the courtyard some
familiar feature that will confront them with the terrible pain that, finally,
the rope broke and that holding on to the bars will not return their jailed
son, husband or brother. The situation in Venezuelan jails is a shame for all
of us. Because of it, we can not understand why one can subsidize Argentinean shipyards
so they can build ships without competitive bidding, but one can not alleviate
the souls of the Venezuelan men and women that have to live with the humiliation,
pain and shame generated by a prison system, criticized by all organizations of
human rights of the world. That is why I ask Mr. President…What are you
The President’s smile and his presents to other countries impacts us, while his
own followers realize the vices of an electoral system servile to the designs
of the Miraflores Palace and because of it, the resounding failure of his much
ballyhooed representative democracy starred by the people themselves. The
tupamaros, ideological allies of the President, have taken to the streets to
protest against the National Electoral Council.
rabid followers of yours Mr. President have been battling with bottles and guns
other followers of yours, because they feel that their votes were not counted
and they demand the democracy that you promised them. That is why, Mr.
President, when you run to Brazil to give a ”resounding backing” to Lula’s democracy
and you hug with a big smile the Brazilian President, I can but ask you…
you laughing at?
President smiles next to his Uruguayan counterpart, Tabaré Vázquez, who gladly accepts (how could he not to?) not
only the subsidy to Venezuelan oil but a block of the Orinoco oil belt, which
requires for its production technology of which the Uruguayan oil company Ancap
has no idea about. To make matters worse, when the agreement was signed, he
makes it clear that the Uruguayans will have up to 15 years to pay and that,
according to him; Venezuelans will accept barter in case they can’t pay us. Who
has President Chávez asked to dispose of the inheritance of our grandchildren
in this manner?
The picture of the smile of the President turns into a hateful grimace, when
you compare it to the desperation in the faces of those ill with cancer that
can not be taken care of today because there aren’t sufficient radiotherapy instruments
in the country. In a cry of desperation, the Venezuelan Society for Oncological
Radiotherapy has asked that a national emergency be declared on the treatment,
that a “Mision Radioterapia” be decreed if it is necessary, because gentlemen, cancer
does no wait for anyone. And until when, do we Venezuelans have to wait for the
President to devote himself to solving the problems of this one, his country,
instead of going around solving those of our “other” brothers, by the way much
richer than us?
Venezuela is falling apart…
literally speaking, roads sink, hospital can’t cope, the promised housing does
not show up, there are riots in the penitentiaries, elections do not solve the
problem, because there is a huge problem with the elections, the money is not
sufficient but the President decides giving countries such as Brazil a lot of
money, which has an income per capita 58% larger than Venezuela’s, or to
Uruguay with citizens 68% richer than us, we understand that Kirchner, Tabaré
Vázquez and Lula laugh, but you Mr. President…What are you laughing at?