Sunday, December 03, 2006

An interview with Milagros Socorro

Last Sunday Milagros Socorro published in El Nacional a great interview of Manuel Rosales, too long for translation, but you can find the text here. It occurred to me to ask her to give me her impressions about Rosales and about the coming elections. The result is the short interview below, with the English text first and the Spanish text at the end.

For those late coming, Milagros Socorro is perhaps one of the main Opinion Journalists of Venezuela, and a writer, and litterary critic. She also does some of the major interviews published by El Nacional. She has seen most of great Venezuelans in literature or politics sit in front of her recording tape. It is thus a great honor for this blog that she accepted to answer a few questions. I think it would be the perfect material to open this momentous voting day in Venezuela. And thanks to Alex Beech to improve greatly my initial translation.

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DD: Since you have been close and talked to Manuel Rosales, the opposition candidate to Chavez, could you tell us what you think of the man.

MS: Manuel Rosales - ?the man - is shrouded by the politician that he has proven to be. A man gets tired when the days get long, a man weakens when he has over-extended too much and home is away, a man tends to withdraw when the adversary surpasses him amply in strength and resources, a man wants a house where to fall exhausted at night and where to awaken with his wife and children. Rosales has not shown signs of exhaustion despite of the 420 Km that he has walked in two and a half months, he has not asked for delicacies when after an exhausting day the offerings are reduced to a Cocosette (1), he has not backed down in front of a demagogic adversary, who controls all the powers of Venezuela -authoritarian, unruly, violent - He has faced him with his humble face and his limited verbal skills. And when all is said, he does not even have a home to call his own, where he can lessen his exhaustion and relax with his family. His measure is not, thus, the one of a man but of a politician who has demonstrated an exceptional drive and who has calculated the dimensions of the leadership vacuum in Venezuela. He has risen to fit the profile, without stopping at his limitations or his weaknesses. I would say that before us is a figure who detected the urgent need for a democratic leadership and who forced himself to exert it against any prediction or caution and, above all, languor.

DD: In this interview you made, what struck you the most about his replies?

MS: More than his replies, I was impressed by his serenity. It was like an unusual calm, since he had just left a stage from which he dominated an immense highway full of people who clamored for him, demanding the effort of not one but a thousand men. It was the absence of passion in a politician who was not looking at 3D nor any date in particular but who was examining an immeasurable panorama where to exert his leadership. I had the impression that I was in front of a totally unshakable person - whatever might happen.

DD: We all know, or believe we know the importance of the vote next Sunday December 3. Do you think that all Venezuelans are aware of the importance of out ballot? In particular when we consider the famous "red, red PDVSA (roja, rojita)": do you think that those who plan to vote for Chavez will do so knowing full well the implications of such nonsense?

MS: Daniel, I prefer not to answer this question, because I have been feeling very emotional. I believe that in a few days the lives of Venezuelans could be torn by tragedy. I do not want to judge those who vote one way or another. That will always be the sacred way, even if they favor the option that for me seems like the abyss for Venezuela. I do not think that anyone votes or does something intentionally to seek the destruction of his or her country. I do not believe it nor do I want to. Of course, they are not unaware of the threats of the energy minister and of Chavez himself, stentorian and permanent, but I want to believe that even before such dire warnings those who relapse in voting for him do so guided by their conviction that that which to me seems the death of the democracy and the peace in our country, can bring some good to Venezuela or their own lives, which in a closer look is the same thing.

DD: For you, is there an elemental issue that we all must answer in the moment which we vote?

MS: Daniel, my elemental issue dwells in my life, in my education, in the books that overflow the shelves and surfaces of my apartment. That is my platform and from there I contemplate the world. I understand that my fellow Venezuelans have their beliefs and outlooks. My elemental issue is to put an end, by a democratic path, to a legal dictatorship -corrupt beyond and inefficient beyond reason. But as a writer and a journalist, someone who writes for her country and not for a group, I understand that we each have our own elemental beliefs, which I must respect and try to understand.

DD: Who do you think will win and why? If Chavez wins, what could you say to a foreign reader?

MS: I think Manuel Rosales is going to win but I know that I might be confusing my wishes with reality. A reality that, of course, I have not invented but that I have read in the growth of the opposition challenge and in the fervor and size of the rallies around the candidate.

If Chavez wins Venezuela will be harshly punished for its mistake. The autocrat will confuse a democratic gesture from those long forgotten masses who still believe in him, with a blank check to follow his whims and install a uniformed monarchy.


1) Popular Venezuelan cookie, as available everywhere in Venezuela as a "polarcita"?. Together with Harina Pan, Diablitos and Pirulin they are the closest definition of Venezuelan basic diet!

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The Spanish version.

Ya que usted vio de cerca y hablo con Manuel Rosales, el candidato de oposición a Chavez, podría decirnos que piensa usted del hombre.

-El hombre que es Manuel Rosales ha quedado arropado por el político que ha demostrado ser. Un hombre se cansa cuando las jornadas se extienden, un hombre se debilita cuando se ha esforzado demasiado y el rancho es escaso, un hombre suele retraerse cuando el contendor lo supera ampliamente en fortaleza y recursos, un hombre quiere una casa donde caer rendido por las noches y donde amanecer con su mujer y sus hijos. Rosales no ha dado muestras de agotamiento pese a los 420 kilómetros que ha recorrido en dos meses y medio, no ha pedido manjares cuando al final de un día agotador la oferta se limita un paquete de cocosettes, no se ha arredrado frente un adversario demagogo, enseñoreado de todos los poderes en Venezuela, autoritario, descontrolado, violento, y lo ha enfrentado con su cara de campesino y su escasa habilidad verbal. Y al anochecer de todo eso, no tiene una casa que pueda llamar suya, donde mostrarse exhausto y querendón con su familia. Su medida no es, pues, la de un hombre sino la de un político que ha demostrado un arrojo excepcional y que ha calibrado las dimensiones del liderazgo necesario en Venezuela para luego ocupar él mismo ese perfil, sin detenerse en sus limitaciones ni en sus debilidades. Yo diría que estamos ante una figura que detectó la urgencia de un liderazgo democrático y se determinó a ejercerlo él contra todo pronóstico, toda prudencia y, más que nada, toda pereza.

¿En esa entrevista que hizo, que le impacto particularmente en las respuestas que el le dio a sus preguntas?

-Más que las respuestas de Rosales, me impactó su serenidad. Era como una calma anormal, puesto que venía de abandonar una tarima desde la que dominaba una inmensa autopista llena de gente que lo aclamaba y también le exigía un esfuerzo que podría superar no a uno sino a mil hombres. Era la ausencia de pasión de un político que no miraba el 3D ni ninguna fecha en particular sino que estaba auscultando un paisaje inabarcable donde ejercer un liderazgo. Tuve la impresión de que estaba ante una persona totalmente imperturbable... pase lo que pase.

Todos sabemos, o creemos saber la importancia del voto del próximo domingo 3 de Diciembre. ¿Usted cree que todos los venezolanos estemos concientes de la importancia de nuestro voto? En particular en vista del famoso "roja, rojita de PDVSA": usted cree que en verdad los que votaran por Chávez lo harán a sabiendas de la implicación de tales despropósitos?

-Daniel, prefiero no contestar esta pregunta, porque me encuentro en estado mental muy especial, puesto que creo que en pocos días la vida venezolana podría estar desmedrada hasta los límites de la tragedia. No quiero juzgar mal a quienes opten, con su voto, que siempre será una vía sagrada, por la alternativa electoral que a mí me parece el despeñadero de Venezuela. No creo que nadie vote o haga algo intencional para procurar la destrucción de su país. No lo creo ni lo quiero creer. Desde luego, no hay nadie inadvertido de las amenazas del ministro de Energía ni de las del propio Chávez, estentóreas y permanentes, pero quiero creer que aun ante tan graves indicios quienes reinciden en votar por él lo hacen guiados por su convicción de que eso, que a mí me parece la tumba de la democracia y de la paz en nuestro país, puede traer algún bien a Venezuela o a sus propias vidas, que bien mirado es lo mismo.

¿Para usted, existe una cuestión elemental que todos debemos contestar en el momento en que votemos?

Daniel, mi cuestión elemental está plantada en mi vida, en la educación que he recibido, en los libros que repletan los anaqueles de mi apartamento y en la mesa que hace un rato recogí. Esa es mi plataforma y desde allí contemplo el mundo. Entiendo que cada compatriota tiene su piso y su atalaya. Mi cuestión elemental es ponerle fin, por la senda democrática, a una dictadura legal, inverosímilmente corrupta e ineficiente. Pero, como escritora y periodista, alguien que escribe para su país, no para un grupo, entiendo que cada quien tiene una cuestión elemental, que debo respetar y tratar de comprender.

¿Quien cree usted que vaya a ganar, y porque? ¿Si gana Chávez, que le podría decir usted a un lector extranjero?

Yo creo que va a ganar Manuel Rosales pero sé que puedo estar confundiendo los deseos con la realidad. Una realidad que, desde luego, no me he inventado sino que leo en el crecimiento de la candidatura opositora y en el fervor y volumen de las concentraciones en torno al candidato.

Si Chávez gana, Venezuela será duramente castigada por su error. El autócrata confundirá un gesto, que es democrático y provendría de unas multitudes largamente pospuestas y aún esperanzadas en él, con una dispensa para hacer lo que le venga en gana e instalar su monarquía uniformada.


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