Caracas Chronicles on Restorative Hiatus

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Well, you must have noticed that I’ve moved more or less permanently to the Futbol Blog. I can’t help it – ever since España ’82 my life has been running on a four-year cycle: 47 months feverishly awaiting the next World Cup followed by one month of total, fanatical immersion in the tournament.

I’ve gotten an inordinate amount of crap in my inbox about this. Typical emails run something like “while you’re off watching grown men chasing a little ball like monkeys, Chavez is doing X, Y and Z under cover of mundial, finally enslaving all Venezuelans.” I tend to roll my eyes at this sort of message: as if Chavez was going to slow down if we paid more attention. As if he gave a toss about scrutiny. As if we could actually do something about it.

We can’t. And I think it’s important for us to come to grips with the fact that we can’t. From 1999 to 2004 we fought the good fight, and we lost. At this point, we can act as observers, as scrutinizers, as commenters. But not really as activists. Not meaningfully. Not anymore.

Yes, yes, I know. What is happening in Venezuela is unacceptable. The cruel thing is: we have to accept it. Accept its reality.

To my mind, learning to cohabit with the reality of Chavez in power is not just a sign of maturity, but actually a pre-requisite for staying sane. Getting stuck on the ongoing affront to basic decency represented by his regime does nothing beyond raising our blood pressure. Folks, if our principled anger could change the reality on the ground, Chavez would be long gone.

Faced with a reality we can’t accept but have to accept, it becomes imperative to find some way to keep our wits about us. To find some joy all the same. This is why I don’t apologize for a second for obsessing over futbol: the World Cup is something that gives me immense pleasure, something to hang on to faced with a reality I can neither accept nor change.

We all need our little coping strategies here. I’ve found mine. I strongly advice you find yours.

Trust me, I’m not happy that it’s come to this. But it has.

So, all together now, y sin complejos: GO BRAZIL! God I hope Parreira sees the light and leaves Adriano on the bench…

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