Crónica subterránea / Antonio López Ortega

Subterranean Chronicle

I hear two similar pieces of news in less than an hour. The first arrives via the phone from Mérida and concerns a student in intensive care; the second one I read in a morning newspaper and has to do with the unconscious state of another student. These two clinical cases are supplemented by news of torture, jailings, the faceless wounded, the disappearances. This is our harvest: extermination. Except it seems to be lived on a second plane, hidden from the reality of the surface. In other words, we pump gas while someone tortures; we buy what little there is to be found while someone assaults someone else’s body; we jog in a park while someone shoots to kill. There are two circles that never touch: normality, which shrinks each day, and abnormality, which we start to see as just another habit.

But make no mistake: it’s not just another habit; it’s the negation of life itself, of coexistence; it’s the death of the minimal requirement needed to call ourselves a country, because when it comes to the term republic, we fall into academic depths.

In the second circle, that pulses while we go to the bakery and can’t find any milk, there are mothers who cry, there are families in mourning, there is weeping that finds no consolation, there are victims without killers. Who talks about that chronicle, who brings it to the surface? Who’s keeping count of the abuses, who writes about the pure pain that will never know about the soulless beings who have provoked it? Mothers say they have to be close to their children; students ask to not be left alone; passersby say there’s nothing they can do. Meanwhile, the country bleeds to death, particularly the country of young people, which is like imagining the future and only seeing a blind old man. Everything in Venezuela becomes landscape, daily habit, conversation in the hall. Nothing transcends; nothing moves us. The murders are like trees: obstacles in the road; the deaths are like old news: they repeat our tedium. How can someone smile, how can someone go to the barber shop, how can someone swim in the sea?

Beneath appearances, themselves incomplete, there is a subterranean chronicle (that no one sees, that no one wants to see) that is only shared by mourners. Tales travel from one trench to another, as though carried by anonymous soldiers: the news of a death, the anxious search for a particular medicine, the cure that never comes, the beings that don’t wake up, the girlfriends that won’t see their boyfriends anymore, the mothers that suffer like titans, the fathers left with only tears of stone. The most understanding will ask themselves: What have we become? The most skeptical will tell themselves: To what country of oblivion have we travelled?

The death of feeling, the word, consciousness, of a reason to be. All we are is impulses, compliments, inconsistencies. All we are is servile beings, dead in life, carrying our heart in a wheel chair.

At least the subterranean chronicle brings us proof of life, news about people who are moved, faces of people who have reasons to suffer, suspicions of impulses that might be human. These lines are for them, these empty impulses that would rather be closer to their death than to our own are for them.

{ Antonio López Ortega, El Nacional, 8 May 2014 }

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