Absoluta Tristeza / Elizabeth Araujo

Absolute Sadness

The subway stops at the Bellas Artes station for seven long and anguished minutes. It’s 2:23 in the afternoon and the passengers, who aren’t scarce, look at each other with annoyance, saving their rage for later. “This piece of junk doesn’t work anymore,” a woman exclaims and no one responds. To justify her complaint, the woman explains, “I’m coming from Agua Salud and it’s been like this the whole time, stopping for more than five minutes at each station.” Welcome to the kingdom of inefficiency. The Caracas subway, which up until recently was a possible happiness in suspense, joins the catalog of broken streets and dirty sidewalks. As the Bolivarian Revolution has continued to disassemble each one of the city’s functional pieces, this system of transport—along with the PDVSA oil company, perhaps the only State enterprise that managed to exhibit its virtues proudly—begins the slow pilgrimage toward its own decadence.

Unfortunately it won’t be alone. Starting in May, the TV channel [RCTV] that invented newscasts and reinvented telenovelas joins the list of official media, with their boring afternoon programming, their annoying nightly talk shows, with somber characters always talking about the same subject and the jarring interruptions at all hours to transmit from the Teresa Carreño Theater or from wherever the President might feel like convening a socialist, farming or indigenous municipal committee, with a speech to go along with it.

Then we’ll see the tragedy of the telephone companies dismantled of service and maintenance. The incorrect or monitored calls; the control of Internet connections; and the discretionary cutting of service to businesses and homes, while explanations and payment receipts will be useless. To that we’d have to add the sudden black-outs in our homes, the desolate darkened streets, and the contingency plans to supplant what will end up being called normality.

Once the State—in this case Hugo Chávez’s revolution—has swept everything with its nationalizations and its transfer to State control, and free competition between people and businesses has disappeared to become a reminiscence of the past, then the Venezuela of XXI Century Socialism will sink into boredom “Cuban-style,” with volunteer slogans and praises for the leader. The long speech will install itself in the seat of diverse thought, and even the very philosophers of new media territory won’t know what to dissertate on, besides that obstinacy to impose an inefficient model of society that ends up generating the most absolute sadness.

{ Elizabeth Araujo, TalCual, 16 January 2007 }

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