May 31, 2004

Email from my country-girl former co-worker...

From: "Julia"

To: "Francisco"

Date: Fri, 30 May 2004 11:11 PM

Subject: para tu disfrute

Just wanted to share a little story you might like. Hey, I didn't hear it on Marta Colomina's show, it's a personal story.

One of my sisters, who still lives in the little sea-side town where I grew up, was persuaded by the people of another near-by town to help them out by working as a teacher for Misión Ribas, the government scheme to get poor people high school diplomas. She agreed because she visits this town often, and she knows nobody else in the town is really prepared to be a teacher, and they would really appreciate her help. Plus, she isn't a university graduate; she did only some semesters in the history faculty at the Universidad Central, and well, she doesn't have a job right now.

She sent in her resume, went to several Mision Ribas meetings in La Guaira, but she warned the people in town and later to the Mision Ribas Coordinator in La Guaira, that she had signed for a referendum on Chavez. The coordinator told her that it didn't matter because they couldn't find any other volunteer who wanted to go to such a remote place for the Mision. So they agreed she would start teaching high school out there.

A few years ago, she had a son who has spina bifida (he's in a wheel chair), she had asked for help from the Fondo Unico Social - another Chavez-controlled agency - to help fund an operation for her kid, which she never got.

This week, we find out the chavistas have been investigating her, finding out personal details about her, that she has three kids and no husband and one of the kids is in a wheelchair. On Saturday the 29th she got a call from the Regional Coordinator for Mision Ribas to ask her whether she would withdraw her signature, arguing that someone who is against the president cannot be accepted for a job with the Mision.

My sister replied that she had warned them and they had not posed objections. Five minutes later she got a call from the Army Captain in charge of coordinating Mision Ribas in the region. He told her that they could get her a good job with her CV, help for her sick kid and scholarships for her other two kids, but that she must withdraw her signature.

My sister said no, that if she did it she wouldn't know what face to show to her children, he kept insisting and asked her to call again. This Sunday, he called her again to insist and offer her a face-to-face meeting with him this Tuesday to give her a "direct donation" from PDVSA for her kids as well as a job, of course all provided she withdrew her signature. She told them no again. He called a third time and she decided not to pick up the phone, and asked her kids to say she was not home.

It sounds like a Marta Colomina story, but no, it's my sister!

un beso,