The first thing that draws one’s attention in Yibram Saab Fornino’s video, Ombudsman Tarek William Saab’s son, is the context. There’s a garden bordered by a hedge wall in the background. To the left, a palm tree frames the image. The video was shot at night and the only light seems to come from behind the camera.

Ready? a voice asks.

Yibram nods and, immediately, a second voice adds:

I’m recording.

The following is one of the most significant episodes of the gradual but unstoppable process of chavismo’s destruction as a political power.

Yibram starts by introducing himself as a “citizen and Law student.” Not as “people” or indistinguishable mass, but as an autonomous, thinking individual. He reinforces this condition by stating what he does study Law; in other words, understanding the reaches and boundaries of his own freedom.

His skin is white, but his face shows the insolation typical of Venezuelan democrats these days: the burning evidence of many hours spent under the sun fighting to topple Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship.

The video’s scarcely a minute and fifty two seconds long, but it’s carefully structured from beginning to end.

After introducing himself and ratifying how the Supreme Tribunal of Justices’ rulings 155 and 156 have ruptured constitutional order in Venezuela, Yibram sets forth his stance, “freely before the country, as a Venezuelan and as the eldest son of Ombudsman Tarek William Saab: my dad.”

Yibram pauses for a second after saying this, raises his eyes from the paper he’s reading and looks directly to the camera.

“I do this inspired by the principles and values my dad taught. I thank you for that.”

Yibram doesn’t say “my father,” he says “my dad,” which despite the severity in his eyes, revealing the awareness of the moral lesson that he’s giving the Ombudsman before the country, seeks to preserve family unity.

The son’s courage reveals the father’s cowardice. In view of the ultimatum issued by the National Assembly to pressure him to assume the responsibility of his office, Tarek William Saab shielded himself behind his wife and children, seeing that demand as a personal threat and blaming the opposition for anything that could happen to him and his family.

This is Yibram’s response:

“First, I want to say that neither me nor my eighteen-year old sister Sofía, nor my youngest, fourteen-year old brother have been threatened in any way.”

Why does Yibram do this? Why does he do this to his own father? Yibram immediately clarifies it:

“I do this inspired by the principles and values my dad taught. I thank you for that.”

I’m sure that in certain radical circles within the opposition, this statement is enough to disregard Yibram’s words. They’ll call for what they truly wish would happen between Venezuelans: a lynching. However, Yibram has done something far more complex, smarter and also quite moving: he’s disarmed his father with his own weapons. The weapons of values and justice that the Ombudsman himself replaced with a kit of dumbbells and a few portraits of Chávez.

I want to say that neither me nor my eighteen-year old sister Sofía, nor my youngest, fourteen-year old brother have been threatened.

Yibram has fulfilled that ritual that all boys must deliberately go through to become men: kill their fathers. In other words, take the father’s shadow into himself. A ritual that Yibram has fulfilled with courage and also tenderness, before a stunned country that became an Elizabethan audience for a minute and fifty two seconds.

It wasn’t only the family drama that made Yibram do what he did, however. Yibram decided to take a stand at the end of a particularly painful day. The day in which the dictatorship murdered student Juan Pernalete, firing a tear-gas bomb directly to his chest at close-range, breaking his heart, and the hearts of his family and the entire country.

“That could’ve been me,” Yibram says and looks to the camera again. Looking, through all of us, at the man he still calls “dad.”

Yibram concludes by asking Tarek, with an impressive stoicism, to reconsider and do what he has to do.

“I understand you. I know it’s not easy, but it’s the right thing to do,” the son tells the father.

With his letter, Yibram Saab Fornino has become a man. Not just in the sense of an affirmation of virility that’s necessary on certain occasions, such as this one, but also in the sense of become a whole person. Someone who has embraced his own shadow, advising and loving it.

Deep inside, Yibram’s deed is spiritual. He’s vanquished the ghost that nervous Hamlet couldn’t defeat. The same ghost that devoured Jorge Rodríguez during a similar night and which has cost Venezuelans so many rivers of tears and blood.


This post originally ran in Spanish on the author’s blog, El Atajo Más Largo.

13 COMMENTS

  1. What this kid did was courageous, no doubt about it.

    I’m not sure that Freudian analysis holds the key to people’s motivations, or that Oedipus/Hamlet are role models, but there sure is a lot of Greek drama in Venezuelan politics (I’m thinking Godgiven, I’m thinking the shrink-mayor and his crazy sister), and I do wonder sometimes if Venezuela could have completely avoided the mess it is in if Hugo Chavez had had a better relationship with his mom.

  2. The most original and enlightening piece I have ever read about a kid who dares denounce his corrupt father. Not.

    The kid knew perfectly well what he was doing, so pieces like these are just an insult to his intelligence and to the reader.

    • This kid could be living the high life and simply enjoying the benefits of the robolución. Instead he is on the street protesting and taking the same risks as any other protester. With this video, he has publicly put himself out there as an enemy of the regime, thereby increasing his personal risk.

      Would he have to be imprisoned or murdered by the regime for you to acknowledge his courage??

  3. That the kid just made the video after the social pressure from fellow classmates seems like a more plausible reason than this coming-of-age mumbo jumbo.

  4. And again I wonder about the future of Venezuela after chavismo is destroyed, given some of the comments here.

    Some people are hellbent of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. We get somebody that had every reason to stay silent and decided not to. I respect him more than any of you “hardasses” over the Internet.

  5. A tendency to disqualify everyone else’s acts or words of altruism as self-interested, regardless of the FACTS is what got Chávez elected. Let’s hope cynicism doesn’t deceive our fellow citizens again.

  6. Nadie acá ha hablado del niño.Lo que se critica es el texto, que lo que busca es aprovecharse de un acto político genuino para imponer todo un discurso hipócrita en torno a él que sólo beneficia a quien lo escribió, quien así se confiere una autoridad moral que de ninguna manera se merece ni se ha ganado.
    El niño sabía lo que estaba haciendo, por eso pensó cada palabra de su discurso y asumió todos los riesgos.
    No quería que nadie hablara de Freud (después de todo, hablar del complejo de Edipo es un lugar común), ni de ciertos círculos radicales de la oposición que supuestamente buscan linchamientos. Quería provocar un efecto concreto.
    Su intención no era moralizadora, su intención era provocar una fisura en el chavismo y denunciar su hipocresía, la misma hipocresía que otros en la oposición también practican.
    El niño reacciona contra la hipocresía, al igual que yo, y al igual que todos los que critican a los corruptos y a los pontificadores del teclado, que únicamente quieren salir de una dictadura para instaurar la suya propia. Una dictadura triste, moralista, dominada por ellos, quienes dicen saber lo que está bien y está mal, como sacerdotes, como tiranos.
    Yo desconfío mucho de las personas que dicen “tenemos que demostrar con nuestras acciones que somos mejores que los chavistas”. Si usted parte de ahí, usted parte mal. No se puede partir de una superioridad, para lograr una igualdad. El propósito de la protesta no es demostrar que usted es mejor que nadie, el propósito de la protesta es demostrar su carácter de igual ante los otros que ha perdido a través de una injusticia.
    Hay que decidir entre ser superiores moralmente, o reconquistar nuestros derechos. Las dos cosas no son posibles porque quien aspira a ser superior moralmente necesita del opresor para lograr su objetivo. Es la lógica del esclavo. Es decir, de la derrota.
    Primero, hay que crear las condiciones de la justicia, de la igualdad, luego vendrán las otras consideraciones.
    Hay que distinguir entre la venganza como pasión, y la justicia como pilar de una sociedad armoniosa. Ese es el verdadero dilema de Hamlet y la causa de su tragedia. Si uno se deja llevar por la pasión de la venganza, no logra la justicia, pero si uno se deja llevar por la pasión desinteresada de la justicia, es otra cosa. El niño, me parece, fue motivado por la pasión desinteresada de la justicia y no de la venganza, y por eso su acto fue ejemplar. Es un acto que los moralistas de oficio pueden alabar, pero no imitar, porque para ejecutarlo se requiere una pasión por la libertad y por la justicia que les es imposible desde su posición de jueces.
    Quienes quieren criticar desde la moral las acciones de quienes luchan por la libertad, son simplemente enemigos de la libertad, vengan de donde vengan. Ya de entrada están diciendo: “yo tengo el poder de decirte lo que está bien y lo que está mal, lo que puedes hacer y lo que no”, o sea, que ya de entrada están planteando un nuevo escenario de desigualdad, en el cual ellos tienen la ventaja de la autoridad debido a su supuesta competencia como sabios. Yo no soy anarquista, pero creo que hay tener en cuenta lo que está en juego porque esto nos va a causar muchos dolores de cabeza si es que logramos vencer a la dictadura.

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