Zona paréntesis / Nelson Rivera

Parenthesis Zone

To Ingrid Peña Natera

At this very moment, certain men locked up in jails scattered throughout different places in Venezuela, Alka-Seltzer prisoners whom we've let dissolve and disappear like bubbles in the frothy surface of our memory, must be asking themselves about each one of us. Not only them, but their loved ones must also be spending their days and nights with the concentrated bitterness of an undigested walnut in the stomach: they must be asking what has happened with the democratic mobilization, what this scandalous political fading means.

The stare of a jailed citizen is the very emblem of the emergency. A question emerges with characteristic urgency: the wounds we received during battle, did they only weaken the fight for freedoms momentarily, or did they thunder even deeper within us, to the point of hardening our blood and the heart?

We are submerged in the "parenthesis zone," according to the formula Ingrid Peña Natera has suggested to me: behind us, the bite that won't let go our throats, the overflowing dossier of failed actions, the legs beaten by the trips that the hegemonic octopus has inflicted on us, the mouth thick from so much bitterness administered to us by the powers. Ahead of us: a thick grey and ochre fog. Wind that throws sand particles in our eyes. The dense perplexity of citizens.

The "parenthesis zone" is the fear of looking, not at what's coming, but at the here and now of our lives: at the Cyclops that advances among us. We have opted for withdrawing into ourselves, for turning our backs to his flagrant invasion within the doors of our psyche. Those who promote the idea that the hegemonic impulse has its own limits and that his desires are limited to controlling public life, in other words, to silencing dissidence, are mistaken. They don't imagine the voracity of his ambitions: he wants to mold our thoughts and our routines; to intervene in our confidences; to curtail the links of solidarity that still remain organically among so many citizens.

The Cyclops has a goal whose materiality can already be felt in the evasive looks, in the clipped words, in the absent actions of many people: to impose fear as the most extensive and routine coin of exchange. The goal: that dissenting, expressing, organizing and denouncing become episodes that are made impossible by fear. That fear become the element that separates us from ourselves. That out of fear we tear away from ourselves that dimension inherent to each of us which is the defense of one's rights. That fear fracture our duty to resist.

Colette Capriles has warned about this in words that are full of meaning: the country makes us illiterate. In effect, we must recognize the exalted presence of the complex and simultaneous: the country demands significant efforts of thought and action. The atmosphere has changed: we speak and it answers with a mocking face.

After each question we make, what we receive for an answer is a contract for blind obedience. A farce, the chattering surrounding dialogue is a systemic farce: the Cylops is deaf. Watch him, he doesn't listen. He launches decrees, he displays false airs, he runs over us. His contorsions are unilateral. He overwhelms. He wants everything for himself.

I insist: we have hidden inside the "parenthesis zone." Aggrieved, we have left the political sphere empty. We are looking at our toes. We walk through shadows. We don't look to our sides. We proclaim the most individualistic and insistent excuses with ease. The articulation of democracy trembles and, unaware of the consequences, we behave as if none of that were a matter that demands our attention.

An error in our calculations: to think that things will not get worse. This is how it has been throughout history: people and the mechanisms maintained by societies to protect the right to think differently, these always arrive late to the most grotesque evidence.

In its backdrop, the "parenthesis zone" has a morbid characteristic: as time goes on it ends up becoming an ally to the Cyclops. A certain disdain for public affairs; certain things forgotten which have a moral characteristic ( for example, the blotting out of detained citizens); a certain attitude of cutting ties with the defense of our freedoms, all these lead to the fracture of the "parenthesis zone": its steps toward terror, toward the emptying of the democratic model; its quick conversion into the "Cage of the Cyclops," where a place is reserved for everything, including indifference.

{ Nelson Rivera, El Nacional, 1 April 2005 }

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