November 4, 2006

"The new PDVSA is red, very red, from top to bottom"

Quico says: Normally, I don't translate humor pieces - jokes so seldom make it unharmed from one language to the other. But it's a measure of how far gone the country is that even Laureano Marquez has stopped writing funny pieces. His front page editorial in yesterday's Tal Cual struck me as uncommonly eloquent, so here you have it...

Unlike most of you, I think the Minister of Energy and Mines is one of the few decent people who remain in the country. He doesn't go around spewing half-truths, fooling people. He tells it like it is, and that deserves respect, because it demands a kind of courage the rest of us don't have. Other public officials keep beating around the bush, trying to hang on to established norms and turning their discourse into a juggling act. Dr. Ramirez's sincerity deserves, at least, some appreciation.

"We've come here to talk about politics." Not about the company's policies, but about politics. About who you stand with, compañero.

If we get oil out of the ground or don't get oil out of the ground, that's not a problem the new PDVSA is much worried about. What matters is our absolute support for the candidate-president. The transcendent goals of the nation are none other than the will of its leader. My respects, Mister Minister. What's this I hear about having to apply this rule or that regulation? Straight up, clear as day, he said it: there is no regulation other than loyalty to the chief.

If something like this had been said before the Chavez era, all hell would've broken loose. But, for sure, nothing will happen. We're coming to grips with our national character. It's no joke that Venezuela has changed. It's become more honest about its dishonesty, more coherent with itself. Yup, I ignore the laws, I do whatever I feel like, so what? Isn't that our most authentic face?

Isn't that what we all do in the morning with the stoplight down the street?

"PDVSA is red, very red, from top to bottom." It's a crime to slow down people's political expression with the old wife's tale about how the company, since it belongs to the state, belongs to every citizen.

Oh no, this is our sandbox, it belongs to those of us who think in a certain way. The others don't count, they're enemies, people who sooner or later we shall have to exterminate in one way or another. Otherwise, it'll have to be like that crowd shown on State TV in Petare was chanting during one of the candidate-president's recent rallies: "oppositionists, leave." ("Los escuálidos que se vayan.") It's the same thing the minister says, drowned out by cheers, applause and "Uh-Ah"s...

"We shall not waver...we already tossed 19,500 enemies of the country out of this company." I personally know some of those enemies: they're people who thought that thinking, studying and training yourself might do you some good around here. Turns out they were wrong; the only thing that does you any good around here is supporting someone unconditionally, "or do you idiots (he didn't say the word, but you can intuit it) think you are here because you're smart, because you're capable?"

No. You are here because he put you here, just like he put me here, because he felt like it. Your will doesn't exist, your conscience belongs to us...well, to him. And they applaud...confirming.

This is all stuff you can understand the nice way, or you can get it beaten into you. And that goes for everyone. That's what I call an election campaign, minister, a good one! Not that mixed message about how we have to hate because we love, which people just can't wrap their minds around.

We have to hate because we hate, and obliterate the Other. The path followed by Pinochet, Fidel, Mao, Hitler, Stalin, Franco and so many others. The stadiums will come, sooner or later.

You have given us the true measure of what we're debating as we lead up to December 3rd, of the crossroads history has placed in front of us. Of course it's tough what you're saying. But it's honest. I don't know what the other enemies of the homeland think but I, at least, believe you.

Sobering stuff.