Archive for September 22nd, 2010

Luck of the draw: My day as an electoral trainee

September 22, 2010

By the lack of the draw, I was selected to be part of the group of people manning the voting tables at next Sunday’s Parliamentary elections at the place where I vote. This implied spending the afternoon yesterday as an electoral trainee. No training, no credential, no credential, you can’t participate, which is obligatory. Go figure.

So, at 3 PM sharply I showed up at the public school where the training was to take place. I was sent by a National Guardsman to sit on the wooden steps of the baseball field at the high school to wait for the instructor. There were about 60 or 70 people sitting there with me asking “And now, what?” when at last around 3:25 PM (not bad for Venezuela “time”) the instructor and his helpers showed up.

We were all herded into a hot classroom, about ten to twelve rows deep and the instructor began telling us all the things we would have to do on Sunday beginning at 5 AM.

He was not bad, except that he had clearly memorized all the material and by now was clearly bored to death by it. The supporting material was absolutely awful as you can see above, where the instructor is explaining the seven steps to the installation of a voting table. Yes, each of those seven pie slices contains diagrams of little people, indicating the function of each of the members of the voting table. I was sitting on the second row and could not read the small letters.

I only saw two or three nerdy people like me taking notes of everything, the rest of the people either were bored to death or had no idea what the guy was talking about. A lot of time was spent on rules and technicalities such as what happens when a blind or crippled person comes to vote. Could not understand why it is that senior citizens have priority to vote first, but some of them are selected to spend 16-17 hours manning the voting stations. The guy also discussed the ever present Venezuelan issue: When and how to decide to close down voting. Seems fairly straightforward, but never is.

After a couple of hours of hours of training, the session was over and we all had to stand around and wait for half an hour for our credentials to be typed, so we can get into the voting places.

The atmosphere was very cordial, everyone seemed happy to have been selected as long as they gave you an interesting job. Many people did not want to do the boring jobs like organizing people in lines and the like. But since the training is random, those that are alternates or reserves will not know until tomorrow at 8 AM whether they may do a more interesting job.

So, Sunday I will take my cell phone and will try to give you updates when I get some time, but in general I will know very little of what is going on outside my voting center.

The Extremes of Hate by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual

September 22, 2010

On January 3d. of  this year 2010 a police officer named Junior Galué was admitted to the Hospital Universitario de Maracaibo , with two bullets in the head and his condition, of course, was absolutely critical.. He was attended to by Doctor Frank De Armas.

This doctor graduated twenty years ago and in his student days he became president of the Student Union at the University of Zulia. When De Armas was preparing to intervene agent Galué he received from the Director of the Hospital Universitario, Dr. Damaso Domínguez, this unlikely command: “Send him to a private clinic because he belongs to the police of the Municipality of Manuel Rosales.” De Armas, absolutely stunned, said the wounded man was dying and needed to be intervene immediately.

Dr. Damaso Domínguez retorted, even more unusually, “If you do not abide by my order, tomorrow you are fired.”

De Armas, faithful to the Hippocratic oath and his human sensitivity, disobeyed the baseness and cruelty of his superior and operated the hapless agent, and by the way, he saved his life.

But the next day, Frank De Armas was fired, as he had been promised by Dr. Dominguez. Frank De Armas denounced the abhorrent behavior of his boss to the Prosecutor and the people´s Ombudsman. Until now, nine months later, no response has been received and he informed us that is waiting for the expiration of the periods granted by the law for actions by national authorities, and if this does not occur he is prepared to bring the case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

We are told that Dr. Damaso Dominguez is a very reputable doctor. There are no special reasons to doubt that, in addition to being a good professional, he  is probably a normal citizen, a good father, a follower of his duties and may very well be liked by his friends.

Like all maracuchos, there would be nothing unusual for a person is friendly and open.

What has caused one person to be basically normal and correct, as Dr. Damaso Domínguez is, to make him act as a monster, capable of ordering that  a patient not be catered to because he is from the “other side” and then fired from his job just because a doctor attended to the dying patient? Is there a brain poisoned by the hate speech, who exudes contempt and insults against his opponents, who insists on considering them as “enemies”, continually threatening to “pulverize”, “annihilate” people back turning them into “cosmic dust”, or “demolish them.”

It is a discourse that has transformed ordinary people into fanatics, in individuals who have delegated the power to reason within their heads to the Maximum Leader, “who is never wrong.”

The Leader thinks for them, but also by some of his opponents. Eleven years after that speech we have been sickened  as a society and each end of it is simply the mirror image of another.

Fortunately, the ends are in the minority and the common sense is winning. But that is until now, the most painful and infectious legacy of Hugo Chavez