Ballots and Balloons / Regina Coyula

Our television was well into playing its role as Hugo Chavez’s political sergeant dedicating so much space to the Venezuelan election as if it was its own. No television-broadcast-informed Cuban could physically identify Capriles, let alone give an opinion about his program. He was only mentioned as the “far right candidate” and his “neoliberal agenda.” The continuity of Chavismo is vital to the continuity of Castroismo. I write this post at 4 pm on Sunday afternoon, while anticipating that there will be reelection by a small margin; my doubts are nevertheless with the president’s ability to survive until his new term, which raises the bigger question about the continuity of the so called XXI Century Socialism, which like North Korean’s Juche idea, no one really knows what it’s all about.

After the war of polls that preceded today’s election in the neighbor country, I do not pretend to establish a state of opinion with my impressions of two hours ago, born just behind a diverse group of young men that were exchanging white T-shirts for those of Barcelona, and heading towards a small hotel nearby where, for 2 CUC, they would watch the classic Spanish soccer league on a big-screen TV, in an air-conditioned room.

Excitement — and at times, animosity — defined these fans, to whom I asked, in a moment of courage, if they knew something about the elections in Venezuela.

A martian. That is what I must have looked like to them, at my age and with my dark glasses. Not one responded using words. The most they granted me was a shoulder shrug. Some will be happy with juvenile political apathy, not me. The great majority, going with the flow, will go and vote in our next elections, voiding their ballot or complacently casting it, but not one of them will be able to articulate a solution to a problem in their job, school or neighborhood. They belong to a society in which everything was thought about and decided way before their birth; in those young men, the initiative chip is defective.

I walked to the top of a street where one begins to descend a steep street that I plan not to retake on my return. From the top, I saw the fans wearing the colors of their favorite football club gather in front of the small hotel’s sidewalk. I do not want pay 2 CUC for something that is not food or soap, so I bought bread at the bakery and returned home to not miss the game, since I too have my little heart.

Translated by: Eduardo Alemán

October 8 2012