Fracaso y aprendizaje / Margarita López Maya

Failure and Apprenticeship

The tributes the poet Rafael Cadenas has received in Latin America and Spain make me think about how difficult but valuable it is to accept personal or collective failure. Cadenas began his poetic notoriety decades ago by expressing his existential failure in a context that included the defeat of his political convictions. One of his emblematic poems was titled “Failure” (1966) and another “Defeat” (1963). He wrote them several years after returning from exile in Trinidad.

Cadenas suggests for me today the idea of the new defeat of the Venezuelan left, or better yet, of that left that never learned from the disaster that was the armed struggle in the sixties. Hugo Chávez’s “socialist” project now displays its unviability, not merely economic but political and moral. A great deal of beautiful rhetoric and utopia, but at its core, it is not democratic and it is sustained by the volatile and sterile petroleum income. Nicolás Maduro in New York, with an entourage of 175 people, spending money all over the place while the country is facing shortages; the use of a PDVSA state oil company airplane for private errands in Brazil by the family and nanny of minister Elías Jaua; and Jaua’s wife checking in to the very expensive Syrian-Lebanese Hospital of Sao Paulo, Brazil, while Venezuela endures shortages of medicine and the collapse of our basic medical services. These all reveal an elite that is self-absorbed and alienated from the reality that surounds it.

The failure of the Chavista project is also the failure of Venezuelan society that supported it and kept it in power. But, as Cadenas says, that failure could be a “clue toward another more demanding space.” If this elite and us were capable of looking at ourselves in the face and recognizing that we’ve failed, we could begin to repair the “magical” side of our petroleum economy, which has once again brought us to this dead end. That acknowledgment would allow us to open ourselves to humility, which would in turn create the conditions for listening, engaging in dialogue, evaluating our weaknesses, while also examining our strengths. From this other space it would be possible to rebuild a less grandiloquent plan for the country, one that is rooted in the ground and allows us to take the leap we need in order to articulate ourselves for the globalized community of the 21st century. It won’t be easy, as is the case with all lives that deserved to be lived, or with the itineraries of societies that have provided dignity and well-being to their members. We need to learn from this failure that belongs to Chavismo, but also to the rest of us.

{ Margarita López Maya, Últimas Noticias, 10 November 2014 }

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