Thursday, March 17, 2005

Tale of a Venezuelan in Boston

During my scientific career I did live one year in Boston. I would have loved to stay longer but the quirks of the work place made me move out barely 13 months after I moved in first.

Boston is one of my favorite US city, one of the 3 I would consider moving to the day Chavez sends me on the roads of exile. Even the harsh Boston winter did not bother me much then. I remember the long walks I took in the snow covered banks of the Charles, from old Waltham cemetery to Cambridge.

I cannot tell you the long afternoons and evenings spent in Harvard square. That is, the pre-GAP square where bookstores pullulated and I could afford to see the premiere of some new play, such as a Philip Glass opera, The Fall of the House of Usher. A Harvard square of which I knew where were all the lilacs bushes to make sure to walk in front of them each time I went there during the two springs I enjoyed in Boston.

These days were also my most Liberal days. Though never a bleeding heart liberal (I was always fiscally conservative, if not in my own credit cards), there is no better place in the US to be a Liberal than in Boston, a place where you are spared all the flakiness of the West Coast. Winter snow flakes have a way to filter flake out of you surroundings.

Thus I must confess that the announcement of the visit from Venezuela officials (see previous post) brought me back to these halcyon days of meager means but rich mind offerings. Well, it seems that Boston has changed and I am rather disappointed.

Not that I really mind that chavismo promotes itself by hypocritically restoring a famous sign at Fenway (of my baseball team, yes, I am a Red Sox type of guy). After all, how many Americans know that Citgo belongs to Venezuela? And how many do care as to whether Chavez want to sell it to sink the proceeds in the bottomless pit of his corrupt system? No, fair is fair and Chavez there is not doing anything different than the US does promoting its ways outside.

However I do take exception at the announced visit of Juan Barreto. All the other officials from Venezuela visiting I can deal with it, but Juan Barreto is among the very worse representative that we can have, perhaps the most insulting possible affront to what Boston represents to civility and education.

Now, I am fully aware that the fact that Barreto will be speaking at Harvard or MIT might not mean at all that he is officially received by these campus: it is probably some student group that reserved some hall and paid for it (or rather Citgo). Note that the invitation does not specifically say that "Dean so and so ask the pleasure of your company". Such information only appears for Mari Pili Hernadez at the JFK school, and it makes sense as she is a deputy foreign minister for North American affairs.

But do the people attending the Barreto thing know who they are listening to? Do they know his perfect track record of homophobic comments against his political opponents as he is about to speak in a city that is struggling with Gay marriage, a city always on the fore front of the struggle for Human Rights? Do they know about Barreto frequent misogynistic comments? Do they know about his frequent apparitions in front of the cameras promoting violence?

Barreto might have been elected, by default, Mayor at large for Caracas, but that does not make him a suitable representative. When I see that the mayor of Boston is opening his doors wide open or that representative Delahunt is writing a perfectly ill informed piece in the Globe, I wonder where the educated, civil and informed Bostonians have gone (Delahunt is from Quincy, close enough). It is rather appalling that Delahunt from a state that includes Barney Frank as his representative did not realize who really are the folks he is trying to "reach out" to. He would do well to read contrary opinions if he wants to have some credibility in the committee he might aspire to lead someday. No wonder John Kerry lost if he was supported by such non entities. At least Kerry did know about the evil taking place in Venezuela.

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