Photo: Universidad de Carabobo

Close to a month ago, the Dr. Alfredo Celis Pérez Theatre shutdown was announced by the Universidad de Carabobo. The place that saw countless lawyers, physicians, engineers and other professionals graduate is now closed, after 100 ft of wire necessary for air conditioning were stolen from the premises. A final blow to a space already wounded by crime and lack of resources.

Close to a month ago, the Dr. Alfredo Celis Pérez Theatre shutdown was announced by the Universidad de Carabobo.

As Beatriz Bolívar Agudo, the theatre director, explains, “The Alfredo Celis Theatre had already suffered attacks; we were subjected to two months without internet in our offices because of a fiber-optic wire theft. Without enough money for proper management it’s impossible to recover from this loss of thousands of millions. It was decided, with infinite sorrow, to suspend until further notice the activities in this centenarian theater that has seen generations graduate from the most diverse academic institutions of Carabobo, enriching the city with concerts, theater plays and a stage for the most resonant and historical events of the region.

Though far from the worst thing this dictatorship has done, it’s still a painful loss. The theater represented a tradition that connects many professionals through the decades. Diana Ortega, a friend of mine who graduated with me as a physician, says “When I graduated, I felt joy, personal satisfaction and profound pride. It wasn’t easy for me to get in (the Carabobo University), let alone graduating. How do I feel with the theater closing down? I feel bad, there’s so much decadence and lack of culture… I feel nostalgia and melancholy.”

Carlina González, another colleague, agrees: “When I graduated, I couldn’t believe that six years had already passed and I felt proud to be part of that legacy. When I heard the theatre closed, I thought about those who came next in line, the ones who wouldn’t feel what I felt in such an emblematic place.”

The theater represented a tradition that connects many professionals through the decades.

Sure, students will find another place to graduate, but it’s not about that: This represents the decay of our college education. That’s the thing with this crisis: We lose our present and we also lose the meaning behind it. We’ve not only lost land to expropriating policies, we’ve lost years of work behind their productivity; we’ve not only lost TV channels like RCTV or CNN, we’ve lost our voice.

In this case, we have lost more than the Alfredo Celis Perez, we’ve lost a college education free from crime, ineptitude and corruption.

When I graduated, we waved a giant flag of our country over our heads, singing a smiling Venezuela. That can never be destroyed and I want the next graduates to start with that same spirit. A few days after the venue was closed, there was a protest against crime in the Carabobo University. Young students showed their support and I’m with them wholeheartedly.

Quoting the University’s anthem: Defenderte será nuestro honor, como escudo el pecho y el brazo, de bandera la mente y la voz.

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