The 2007 Christmas Post: the Christmas miracle of 2006

Nosotros vivimos bajo 'e la matica
Verano con ella, y ella verdecita

(sung by Un Solo Pueblo)

What a difference a year makes. Last year at this same time I was in no mood to celebrate Christmas. The country had reelected Chavez for 6 years and he was showing no signs of settling down to the task of ruling the country. In fact we were already having serious ominous rumblings of what the next year would be. Instead, today on Christmas eve we have regained some of our composure, and even, shall we say it, some Christmas spirit, Venezuelan style.

All because during some nightmarish Christmas moment Chavez decided to come out publicly to close down RCTV. And today in retrospective we can tell the whole year as a Christmas tale on how evil finally starts meting some of its due.

Oh, for sure, our problems are far from been solved. Even if Chavez were to resign tomorrow, he has done such deep damage to the social fabric of Venezuela, such big damage to our ability to live together, such material damage to the way the country is built, kept up and run, that it will take at least 5 years of excellent management and skillful politics to regain some form of institutional commitment, of common purpose for our nation's project.

But no matter how grim are our prospects for peace and growth all together, this year, this Christmas, something has changed: for the first time since 1998 we are facing a relatively peaceful Christmas with the sense that we have again a voice in our future. That is, after December 2 we know that there is a way out of the nightmare that Chavez represents. We do not know how or how long, but we know there is a way out that does not necessarily require extensive bloodshed. In 1999 we were grieving Vargas. In 2000 we were worried sick on the increasing power of Chavez. In 2001 we were entering the open conflict after the first general strike in decades. In 2002 we run out of gas and the country was on the verge of breaking up. In 2003 Chavez had denied us our civil right to call for a recall election. In 2004 the whole country had fallen into the hands of Chavez bringing a new crop of local officials that would soon reveal their general incompetence. In 2005 we had lost the last voice we had left at the National Assembly and wondered if we would even be able to field a candidate against Chavez. And in 2006 we thought it was all over, that Chavez was in power for ever.

But this year we got hope again. Once Chavez closed RCTV his deterioration started. He created a generation of bright new leaders, ideas suddenly had values of their own. He forced the opposition to put its act together. He revealed himself the power hungry dictator that he really was. And on December 2 he met defeat for the first time. Nobody could have predicted that this Christmas we would have a diminished president, a president who lost the initiative and who does not seem to find ways to regain it except through vain attempts at shouting louder than the rest of the world.

We have the opportunity to enjoy Christmas for the first time in years, for what Christmas means for Venezuelans. Song, food, family, partying, good cheer all around, forgetting who is chavista and who is not. Next year will be very hard for all of us, but tonight let's have an Hallaca, some Pan de Jamon, a little bit of Ponche Crema, maybe a roasted Turkey or Pernil and let's enjoy our family and friends. Tomorrow we will have the whole day to recover and watch kids play with their new toys. Let's us all remember together that life can be good while we listen to our Aguinaldos.

Nosotros vivimos 'bajo la matica
Verano con ella, y ella verdecita

Merry Christmas to all, and thanks to all who have already written to me or expressed it in the comment section. I apologize for not replying but I am dumbfounded by the amount I have received this year from so many people.

Ps: the simplicity of these folksy words form Un Solo Pueblo make any translation useless as it would require a small post to just explain them. I am sure that one reader will come up with one good way to account for them. Let me just say that if you "get" them, then you are truly Venezuelan, and I mean "get", not "understand". these simple words cannot express better my admiration for the resilience of the Venezuelan people, the one that should be admired tonight.

-The end-