Optimismo / Francisco Vera Izquierdo


A single event will have as many versions as witnesses. Thus, an optimist will see his cup as half full and a pessimist half empty. Since the beginning of humanity, the truth is sought, and the ones most distant from it are those who believe they’ve found it, because the enemy of truth is not mistakes but conviction. I find a story I heard as a child about a dialogue between two friends to be exemplary.

“You’ve gotten so fat.”

“It’s just that now I don’t argue.”

“It’s not because of that.”

“Well then it’s not so.”

I say this because of my own experience of my optimisms. In 1948 I was extremely happy with the fall of Gallegos, believing that by eliminating the Adeco government, Venezuela would be able to find its path. I came back from abroad where I was living comfortably as a university professor and I found a breathable atmosphere, but only for the few months I spent under Delgado and the couple of years under Germán Suárez. After that, I saw the worst that has ever occurred in my years of living.

I worked in the private industry and the well-being created by the healthy economic policies of the regime allowed me to travel frequently to Europe, where I found myself when the dictator fled. I remember with disgust those years of imposed mediocrity. That was half a century ago and young people can’t remember, but occasionally certain articles in favor of Marcos Pérez Jiménez are published that allow one to get an idea of the intellectual standards.

I was also mistaken that time, believing the dictatorship would be brief and it lasted five complete years (from 1952). It’s incredible that an intelligent and cultured man like Laureanito [Laureano Vallenilla Lanz Planchart] could write those abject editorials for El Heraldo.

I was mistaken, if lightly, when I said Pérez Jiménez would flee running at the sound of a firecracker, because a few rockets were enough for him to do so. It was perhaps a unique case. Ignacio Andrade was branded a coward, but when he left, he had renounced the Presidency following protocol, designating Doctor Villegas Pulido as interim leader and he went down to La Guaira, where he embarked with full honors. Not even a thought of such a terrified precipitation that he would forget a suitcase with documents which might land him in jail.

But there are more groans than laughter. Refer to art and numerically compare the elegies with the hosannas. Happiness is frequent in real life, but not in literature. It tends to be conjoined with alcohol because of the latter’s exalting condition.

Somewhere I’ve read that one should only drink when one is happy, and truth be told, there are few things of a more dramatic sadness than weepy drunkenness.

Maybe it’s best to recommend pessimism because disillusionment is more frequent than favorable surprise. Of course the condition also provides an influence.

A beggar was glad to have a deformed child since that would make her begging easier.

Regarding Venezuela, it’s prudent to get used to the idea of Chavista longevity, because if that occurs we will be psychically resigned and how we’d dance if something else happened.

{ Francisco Vera Izquierdo, El Nacional, 15 May 2006 }

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