Photo: @juandgarciia

#BoardingPaz. Entradas a un país migrante is a multimedia conference, a hybrid between a theatre monologue and an oral presentation about the causes, vicissitudes and challenges of the wave of Venezuelan immigrants spread across numerous nations around the globe. Is it a performance, conference or monologue? Its unclassifiable nature is ultimately its greatest advantage when it comes to connecting with the audience.

The piece is based on the stories and contradicting views the migratory phenomenon created by the Bolivarian revolution, unprecedented in our country’s history. This piece brings together journalistic investigation, social media controversies and personal testimonies. Writer, editor and poet Zakarías Zafra; journalist and cultural manager Valentina Hidalgo and actor, director and playwright Oswaldo Maccio (all currently residing in Mexico City) are behind this experiment, in charge of playwriting, producing and stage direction respectively. #BoardingPaz premiered on July 22 this year, in the auditorium of the Memory and Tolerance Museum to a full house, which shows the active promotion displayed by the entire team, supported by the museum, Amnesty International and Venemex (Association of Venezuelans in Mexico).

Zafra is the speaker-character-writer whose adventure starts with a game of affirmation and refutation. At first, he was meant to participate in a literary event and immediately return to Barquisimeto, his hometown. However, he knew it wouldn’t be like that. The return wasn’t decided, it depended on whether he found a job. As it always happens in the case of immigrants, finding a job and a place to stay require both talent and luck: being in the right place at the right time. He found a job in an editorial company and a room in the same area, a big advantage amidst the colossal Mexico City. Sadly, the apartment’s owner evicted Zafra a few days later with the excuse that Venezuelans are dirty and messy. A Mexican co-worker he had just met, offered him to stay in a spare room in her home where she lived with her husband.

Zafra is the speaker-character-writer whose adventure starts with a game of affirmation and refutation.

Besides solving basic needs and avoiding trouble with the authorities, migrants need to be emotionally resilient to overcome the loss of everything one was and had back in one’s homeland. Zafra narrates these difficulties which include an overwhelming anxiety. Eventually, he had to make a tough choice: since his passport was nearing the expiration date and the Bolivarian tyranny prevents us from renewing it in consulates, he had to return to Venezuela. Even though he left in 2016, the country’s fast decline brings such astonishing changes that it’s easy to feel out of place after a short time abroad. He realized he was already an immigrant, a dweller of that strange no-man’s land where those who left move with a unique power, tempered in the fire of reality.

The recreation of Zafra’s experience in his two years abroad allows the connection with the experiences of other connationals. #BoardingPaz invites both Venezuelans and citizens of host countries to think in terms of common experiences. These goals are so important that the creators resorted to setting up focus groups before the premiere, to get impressions about the audience’s possible reactions. Regarding this last point, a few questions remain: did the presentation achieve this latter goal? Is it part of the work to study whether these goals are fulfilled and modify whatever necessary? Is the audience solely responsible for establishing networks? Or is it possible to see beyond the play and the interaction it garners? Which networks are they talking about?

Since it’s a multimedia conference, #BoardingPaz takes all the necessary liberties to cast this story in the common landscape of national contemporaneity, the Bolivarian revolution. Among the most important causes of the exodus, Venezuela suffers one of the worst economic crisis in the world’s recent history, but there’s also the climate of polarization that contributes to the imposition of hate. On the other hand, it shows differences and accusations between those who left and those who stayed, which result in Twitter controversies. It’s worth noting that #BoardingPaz also presents the point of view of the universally hated government supporters who decided to leave the country. To conclude the presentation, Zafra proposes that the audience creates a collective poem through tweets—an “exquisite corpse” in the terms of French surrealists from a century ago—based on the words “migrar es tocar tierra.” The result can be found on Twitter under the hashtag #BoardingPaz. The last verse will be the starting point for other poems in coming presentations.

#BoardingPaz takes all the necessary liberties to cast this story in the common landscape of national contemporaneity, the Bolivarian revolution.

I already stated that #BoardingPaz’s greatest virtue is that it’s a hybrid between the conference and the spectacle. Reality asserts itself in terms of empathy, through the natural demands of a staged story. It was an accurate choice to compose an original score, as well as the use of video and images, although we could ponder whether the discreet drama of the music performed by Zafra with a keyboard plugged to a computer is necessary. But, in any case, the chosen format allows them to review this thanks to its inherent flexibility.

Given #BoardingPaz’s dialogical and interactive nature, we could question certain aspects of the political point of view it presents. For example, it claims that the climate of hate in Venezuela can be blamed both on the government and the opposition. As an spectator, I disagree because the great author of that climate is power itself: chavismo-madurismo. Indeed, the unleashed hate turns against the internally divided dissident population, but I think we can’t forget the role that state power has played in the decline of national cohabitation until it reached its current extremes.

#BoardingPaz opens the way for a subject whose relevance must not be underestimated; it deserves to get the financing to reach other cities beyond the capital and even other countries. It’s doubtlessly ideal for universities, museums, human rights organizations and experimental theatre festivals. As a Venezuelan and a writer, I feel represented by this work whose freshness and seriousness show the dialogue between our people’s talent in other societies and cultures. Congratulations to Zacarías Zafra, Valentina Hidalgo and Oswaldo Maccio.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. “It’s worth noting that #BoardingPaz also presents the point of view of the universally hated government supporters who decided to leave the country.”

    CC should try to put together a story on just this one topic since those who have fled the country are represented by individuals from every Venezuelan socio-economic grouping. It would be interesting to hear their excuses and justification for supporting a regime that has looted and raped the country they supposedly love.

  2. My wife hasn’t had a valid VZ passport in years, since they closed the consulate in Miami.

    It was the push we needed to finally spend the $$$ for her citizenship in the states.

  3. “Sadly, the apartment’s owner evicted Zafra a few days later with the excuse that Venezuelans are dirty and messy”

    I admit, that his one racist, Mexican landlord should not be extrapolated to reflect the values of a nation, but these last few weeks, we are hearing of numerous instances of the like throughout Mexico, Central and South America.

    No doubt we have also heard of incredible kindness, but as a whole, as the mass migration increases in intensity, the welcome mat will become muddied and quite ugly.

    From the mini riot and the running off of Venezuelan on the boarder in Brazil, Ecuadors attempt to close its boarders, Peru seems to be at it breaking point, and of course Colombia as a frontline entrance point to the fleeing masses.

    In the USA, we are bombarded constantly of the inhuman policies we have of attempting to control migration from the south. Literally millions each year AND EVERY YEAR stream across our borders from people who simply want a better life. Mixed in of course are those that are truly in need, in regards to persecution and threat of life.

    And what does the LATAM press and people say? By all accounts, they ignore the 12 million illegal immigrants that do reside here ( 4% of total Population), and ignore the ADDITONAL 18 million LEGAL immigrants (since 2000), and instead focus on our polices that restrict and return those that come across the border. We are mocked, and ridiculed.

    Well, boys and girls. The shit is hitting the fan. And before some lout fires back that “as a percentage this or that”, pull out your google search engine and tell me why the 640 million Latam population can not absorb a mere 3, or 6 million fleeing Venezuleans (1/2% to 1% of the total).

    So to all 33 LATAM nations, look in the mirror as these desperate folk muddy your welcome mat, as a handful of these people commit crimes in your nation, as they take your jobs, as they suppress the wage market, because they are desperate for any job. As they overwhelm your social security systems, hospitals, transport systems, and corrupt your language with slang and unfamiliar inflection.

    Hold your tongue, when many of these immigrants excel in business, when they buy your property, and businesses, and when they naturally group themselves in mini colonies of expats.

    I think, NO. I know, that when being subjected to a real or perceived loss of control of the way of life (yes, the good old days) the ugly immerges with most people.

    It’s the age old NIMBY effect. (not in my backyard). All nations SHOULD take the suffering masses of others, and a pox on them if they are not compassionate. (Well, as long as there is no material effect on my or my community).

    For 30 years, Americans have only heard from our southern neighbors of our deficiencies, our “inhumane” treatment, our callus regard for others.

    Guess it is time to put up or SHUT UP.

  4. Look at the EU…things have worked out great for them after allowing tidal waves of immigrants from Middle East and north Africa into Europe! NOT!

  5. I am an American Republican, a slack-jawed, right-wing, Neanderthal, Old White Male. You know the type. And you know what? Up here in Gringo land, there are LOTs of us! Enough that we got one of our own elected President! And gave those Dems in Congress and in the statehouses an electoral whipping they won’t soon forget!

    My point is, I don’t think we are your kind of people. For the past two years I have been reading CC articles that say not-so-nice things about me and my President. From your leader, Quico, to the heavy thinkers like Clifton Ross, to every pedestrian writer here at CC, there has been a steady drumbeat describing what despicable people we are.

    So, no, if this is what you all think, then it is clear that you would not be happy living next door to us. Hopefully you will find a country more in tune with your culture and your political beliefs.

    Best of luck to you all.

    • at Lorenzo, Most CC writers are leftists who would feel completely at home in the Democratic Party, some even in the progressive wing, so of course they think the worst of President Trump.

  6. I’m a man. I do manly things, think manly thoughts. Manly man thoughts for which I do not apologize. I vote for manly men like me. I’m sick and tired of anything that is not manly like me. Simple and manly. Like for example, Venezuelan people and their lives when they leave their country. Who the hell cares? But I’m glad you want to know what I think about that. Or about anything. And if you don’t, you’re a socialist, and I will go to my other manly men for man help and we will write terrible, made up but still manly things about you and how much you are not manly like me.

    Goodbye to you all. You are shit out of luck. What comes around goes around. I say things that are manly in any place.

    • Ha ha ha ha ha Cuck you crack me up. Even your sniveling little attempt at sarcasm is pathetic. Ha ha ha ha ha what a pud

  7. CHead,
    I for one would not like you to go. You have provided me many insightful thoughts and arguments.

    Is it not possible for you to control your hatred of Trump and the GOP? Invariably your comments conflate the issues to Venezuela with the evil Trump/GOP! Really now?

    My God, Venezuela made its own bed. I realize that the US is the most powerful nation in the world, and hence any time we step on a piece of gum, the world cries foul. Support a regime, get bashed, do not support, get bashed. Play the middle, get bashed twice. It is a joke. Today Trump wants to withhold 250 million from the Palistinians!!! The nerve of the US not giving our money, to a quasi nation that has hatred to us.

    Mr. C – All republicans are not right wing. I’d say 85% are center right. And most of us cringe when Trump tweets or opens his mouth, and disagree to the core many of his policies. But he is a republican, and there are many many policies that he has promoted, that for 8 years under Obama were ignored. One does not toss the baby with the bathwater.

    When you group the whole GOP party as evil, it is just not intellectually credible, and is the same as those haters on the right. What do you expect the response would be?

    I read the comment on the NYT daily, and most GOP comments are blasted. Point being, is the democrat keyboard warriors, love to claim they are “fair and Balanced”, but have no mirrors in their houses.

    But like you, my Canadian friend; We live in 2 of the greatest nations ever to exist, and our government institutions are long and strong, and what swings to far right, swings back left, and visa versa (Harper to Trudeau)

    I am a firm believer that most Americans and Canadians are bunched in the middle of the political spectrum.
    That the biggest difference between nations is simply “my health care system is better than yours”.

    Anyway if you leave, I am sorry. I can take criticism, I can take arrows, and even a few snide remarks.
    I am a man. I am not a pussy.

  8. Cuck is not going anywhere unfortunately. He was just trying to mock Lorenzo but failed miserably like usual. Even now he is snuggling up to his husband seeking comfort.

    • Thanks waltz. I may disagree but I understand what you are saying. I am totally baffled by Canucklehead’s silly babble.

      Still waiting for an intelligent, point-by-point rebuttal to my comment.

  9. I put this whole subject into the “too difficult” category. Humanitarian considerations suggest that all countries should be prepared to offer sanctuary in some form to people suffering the dire consequences of warfare or civil strife in their own nation. Equally, countries must be prepared to offer asylum for individuals who are natural targets of a repressive regime.

    However, these considerations do not automatically suggest that countries should offer immigrant status to any and every economic migrant who seeks to flee the consequences of a catastrophic economic collapse of his/her nation. It is not clear to me what does constitute a decent response.

    I have seen various estimates of the number of Venezuelans who have already left the country. The more reliable of those estimates suggest around 4 million people to date – with an alarming acceleration in the rate of emigration over the last three years. However, surveys carried out IN LATE 2016 suggested that 57% of the respondents wanted to leave the country. That number is probably higher today. Over the next two years, we can reliably predict that the tide of would-be refugees will swell to telephone numbers. And, whereas the first waves of emigration included many professionals and skilled people, the present wave of would-be emigrants includes a very high percentage of impoverished people with poor education and skills, as well as an unknowable number of fully indoctrinated Chavistas and outright criminals.

    Offering full migrant status on humanitarian grounds to anyone and everyone who flees Venezuela would be a very noble but ultimately suicidal act by the receiving country. No individual country can carry this burden. Its magnitude really does demand an urgent international agreement on policy and accommodation.

    So far, the UN has done sweet f*&k all to recognise the severity of the problem. In March 2018, the UNHCR issued a worse-than-useless no-solution guidance note, the gist of which can be found in the extract below.

    “Against this background, UNHCR calls on States receiving and/or already hosting Venezuelans to allow them access to their territory, and to continue to adopt appropriate and pragmatic protection-oriented responses, building on existing good practices in the region.
    UNHCR is ready to work with States to devise appropriate international protection arrangements in line with national and regional standards, in particular the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Cartagena Declaration. Such arrangements are guided by the principle that providing international protection is a humanitarian and nonpolitical act. Providing international protection is consistent with the spirit of international solidarity, of which countries in the Americas region, including the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, have a long history.”

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