¿Por qué apoyo a Capriles? / Rubi Guerra

Why Do I Support Capriles?

A few years ago, when the current government was just starting, a group of four writers linked by sympathies toward or activism within Chavismo produced a type of manifesto where they called on people to approach the artistic act from the happiness of the new times that were beginning for the homeland. Give or take a few words, they were saying that the dark times had passed and now poets, playwrights and novelists had to abandon sadness, negative thoughts and feelings, those that described the pre-revolutionary world in such an exact and convenient manner. I remember reading that document with a shudder. How could I not recall that similar declarations of obligatory optimism and happiness were common in the Stalinist Soviet Union precisely during the years when the purges sent thousands of writers, musicians, painters and, in general, people from throughout the world of culture to concentration camps where they would pay for the crime of thinking differently from the official ideology and expressing that difference in their artistic creations. Of course the Venezuelan situation is not even close to the one in the Soviet Union during the thirties of the previous century; ours continues to be an imperfect democracy, and the Soviet situation was an almost perfect dictatorship; what made me shudder, and at the same time made me indignant, was seeing how both situations were united by a totalitarian idea of the world and of reality: the claim that artistic creation must be subordinated to politics, that in the final instance politics and ideology legitimated or discredited the work of artists and creators. Few among those artists who still adhere to the Venezuelan government would today publicly sustain an opinion such the one expressed by those four advanced individuals, and yet, the central idea remains in use: now we know that not only do they want to place artistic creation and culture under the shadow of ideology, of a single ideology, of an single way of seeing and understanding reality, but also education, history and, in general, all spheres of the lives of Venezuelans. They want us to walk one behind the other like a disciplined herd, without looking to the sides while we chant slogans about liberty and brotherhood, about world peace and the redemption of the poor, and they want to sell this to us as the best of all possible worlds. In that and in other no less important matters, 21st century socialism looks too much like 20th century communism.

While it’s quite true that all governments up to a certain point pervert the meaning of words like peace, the people, freedom and progress, I think that there is none like the actual Venezuelan government that strips these words of their meanings and transforms them into their opposites. To change this state of affairs, to reencounter, even with difficulties and stumbles, the true meaning of these great words, is barely one of the reasons why I support Henrique Capriles Radonski in the upcoming elections of October 7. I want for me, and for all Venezuelans, a society where we have the right to express what we think, as writers, as artists and as simple citizens, without fear of losing our jobs, suffering social ostracism or ending up in jail.

{ Rubi Guerra, Cumaná, Venezuela, 5 October 2012}

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