Vacunas bolivarianas / Heinz R. Sonntag

Bolivarian Vaccines

Every organism needs vaccines, so as to be protected against illness, malaise or harm. For example: during the first years of life, children receive numerous vaccines against childhood illnesses so as to protect their development. A recent experience makes me suspect there are other “occurrences” that require vaccines.

At the end of last month I was invited to attend a conference called “New Lefts/Rights and New Democracies in Latin America?” sponsored by the Center for Global Studies at the University of Montreal in Canada. When I showed up to sign in at the participant registry, I was shown a flyer printed up by an “Anti-Imperialist Student Committee” against the conference they labeled “pro-imperialist,” offering as proof the “coup-plotting” professor from Venezuela who was invited. Since I was the only Venezuelan invited, that had to be me. It didn’t seem the most elegant way to welcome me to an academic conference, but it’s well known that Chavismo has become a “revolutionary” ideological phenomenon in many parts of the world, thanks to the fact that its expansion is being financed by the lieutenant colonel’s unending and unfettered funds.

At the end of the first day’s session, a young man (that morning he had introduced himself to me and identified himself as a member of the General Consulate of the Bolivarian Republic) – I won’t name him, so as to spare him any future embarrassment – asked to speak. He noted that the Venezuelan professor was going to present a completely biased interpretation of “21st Century Socialism” and he warned the participants of his danger (the guests included approximately 350 academics and students, among them the Vice Minister of Foreign Relations for the Federal Government and a few prominent officials from the bureau of the Quebec province). I protested, but didn’t pursue the matter.

The next day, I was scheduled to offer my analysis, after a brilliant intervention on Argentina by Vicente Palermo. Before I spoke, someone had distributed flyers that indicated 80 “beneficial actions by the Bolivarian government,” none of them supported by any sources whatsoever. I presented my lecture, received some applause and was vilely and vehemently attacked by the representatives of the appointed “committee.”

At the end of the event, a friend of mine noted my “ingenuousness” for not knowing about Bolivarian vaccines as rules. We should remember: the ones who need vaccines are the weak! Could it be the lieutenant colonel’s project is so weak that it already needs vaccines?

Translator’s note: Heinz R. Sonntag is Professor of Sociology and Senior Researcher in the Center for Development Studies at the Universidad Central de Venezuela. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1999 and is a founding member of the Hanna Arendt Antitotalitarian Observatory.

{ Heinz R. Sonntag, El Nacional, 18 April 2007 }

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