There, I said it.
I remember our first encounters. We were in a contemporary politics class discussing the surge of the Latin American left. You explained your experience as a leftist NGO volunteer who spent a few months in Venezuela. I knew you supported chavismo and I agreed you had balls, leaving your European comfort to spend some time in a country plagued by violence. I was willing to debate. But when I mentioned where I grew up, you gave me that look. “Oh, right. Chacao.”
I was born in Caracas 34 years ago to a Spanish mother and a Japanese father, and I consider myself 100% Venezuelan – Más criolla que una arepa. Politics and education were always discussed at home, so even if I grew up in a rather comfortable environment, I was always aware of our inequality issues.
Even when I left in 2003 – I thought we’d hit rock bottom in 2002, silly me –, Venezuela never really left me, and I would come to spend the next fourteen years glued to local media, watching our slow, but relentless, downward spiral, struggling to make sense of what was going on.
The hardest thing to deal with, however, is your kind. You fancy yourself as educated about Venezuelan matters, an all around social justice supporter – as long as those you perceive as oppressed are in the same ideological axis you are. We’ve faced each other off quite a few times now, I always try to fight back with data, while your answer is that condescending look. “Venezuelans will fall prey to far right dogma” is one of your mantras, ignoring that a leftist leadership is, literally, killing my people.
Supporting socialist policies doesn’t keep me from denouncing the brutal monstrosity being inflicted upon my country.
Remember that time I told you about the horrific spike in violent deaths during the last two decades? You had travelled to Venezuela a couple of times during the 90s and knew it already was a country with violence issues. Somehow that was reason enough to dismiss the statistics proving my point, as, in your eyes, chavismo was not to blame. You were nice enough to remind me my opinion was worthless – anyone who can move to Spain must be filthy rich, right? Sometimes I wish I were; but nope, I do work for a living.
I’ve tried hard to understand how you can believe someone solely based on their social class, while disregarding facts. I can’t, and I think I never will.
But I’ve never been as upset as the time you swallowed the Chavernment message and said the MUD was at fault for calling an “illegal demonstration”, therefore being responsible for the killings. I tried to remind you, with a soul wrenching feeling, that the only ones responsible for the dead are those pulling the trigger. You did much worse than giving me your classic look then: you accused me of being sponsored by the opposition. Just because I voiced disagreement.
You know the worst of it all? We agree on most things. We both believe in public universal education and healthcare financed with taxes. We agree that every government should ensure that its citizens have a safety net and that wealth redistribution should be a major driver against inequality. Here’s a secret though: supporting socialist policies doesn’t keep me from denouncing the brutal monstrosity being inflicted upon my country. My critical thinking (and my empathy) doesn’t go out the window on account of my ideology.
So, next time, stop pretending to be more knowledgeable about my domestic geopolitics, and to conclude that we’re all victims of a CIA sponsored coup d’etat. To Venezuelans like me, who somehow made it this far without a bullet between the eyes, being away from home is an ache exacerbated by listening to you.
So I’ll spell it out for you right here, buddy: you’re a dick.