Saturday, August 30, 2003

MARS IN YARACUY
Saturday 30, August 2003

Mars also came close to Yaracuy this past Wednesday 27. But you would have been hard pressed to notice any excitement in the population. To begin with, Yaracuy is hardly a good place for astronomy since clouds are always passing by in their way from the Caribbean to hit the Andes where they end up feeding the mighty Orinoco. A clear night is a rare occurrence even in January, our driest month. Any wanna-be astronomer must be patient it s/he wants to catch more than the moon and main stars. Mars caught me, at 11 PM, alone in the parking lot of my apartment building, with my binoculars gazing in wonder at the Martian disk. Tiny disk perhaps, but more than a point in the sky and strangely troubling.

Why did I have to fight the garage lights to observe fully Mars? Well, besides the fact that nobody I knew was interested in a good night of star gazing, the rampant insecurity would discourage anyone from going far out in the dark country side, park the car and get out in the open. I personally think that late at night the Yaracuy side roads on a weekday are not very dangerous, but living daily with the crime anxiety that has crept on us in the last few years is a powerful deterrent. Mars is safer through the TV set.

If I could not find anyone willing to dare go for a night watch in the country side I could have found plenty of people to talk on the astrological effect of Mars. Astrology might be the black sheep of the star sciences, but in Venezuela there are probably more people able to read an astral chart than to find Aldebaran, the eye of the bull in Taurus. But even if Yaracuy is the center of “other world” in Venezuela with the cult of Maria Lionza in Chivacoa, Venezuela as a whole is much more willing to put its faith in the astrologer than financial planning. Chavez is rumored to be a particular fan of the Chivacoa voodoo, but he is certainly not the first president putting his fate into the hands of spirits. Carlos Andres Perez was rumored to have his personal astrologer, and most of Caracas elite supposedly consults them. The most famous tragicomic incident was under Rafael Caldera. An astrologer predicted the imminent death of the visibly senile president and he was briefly arrested and interrogated. Caldera is still alive, by the way.

Actually, with all the unrest that has accompanied us in the last few years, the link between our predicament, Mars and the war god could not fail to be at the center of all conjectures. Astrologers were invited to most talk shows to seriously discuss the implications to Venezuela of its brush with Mars. One woman even read the Tarot on prime time in Globovision and predicted trouble with the weather and airplanes. I suppose that she will be able to increase her fees now: 3 days after her prediction a small private aircraft crashed due to a storm killing its three occupants. That one was a member of the national assembly enhanced the coverage, and her coverage.

Nobody seems to have escaped that Martian mania. El Universal published, tongue in cheek one would hope, the comments of Rocco Remo, star astrologer. He pointed out that Marta Colomina, one of the most outspoken critics of Chavez turns her wrath against the opposition when Mercury is in retrograde. And since his statistics allegedly sustain this last claim he went on to announce that the conjunction of Mars and Mercury in retrograde these next weeks will create confusion in the country, with a big change at the end of September. We will certainly be on the look out.

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