TO EMMA AND EMILIANA
Dear Emma and Emiliana,
I want to welcome you to this world. It's the only one we have and it's our duty to protect it and add good things to it--we've got enough of the bad. You are lucky to have a great mom and dad. They're the type of people that fight for what they want and are attentive to the needs of others--people of good heart and good convictions. If you grow up following their example you'll get far, but above all you'll be happy, which is the only thing that really matters in life.
While you were born in a different country, you both are Venezuelan, and that's something that is a bit hard to explain. Because the truth is that you were born in a moment when our country is at the brink of a dark and steep cliff and a powerful few are insistent on pushing. But a lot of people are fighting for Venezuela, too. Today, while I write this letter, there are young men and women--just a few years older than you--ready to lay down their lives to rescue it. Over one hundred of them have done so already, and more will soon, I fear. Some say they fight and die protecting big ideas: Democracy, Human Rights, Dignity, Freedom, Justice--things that twenty years of corruption and greed have slowly eroded until only the shapes of them remain--and that is true. But the fight is also personal, it's a fight to put food on the table, it's a fight to walk safely down the street, it's a fight to have antibiotics, to have pencils, to have a drink at the corner bar. It's a fight to stop making extra notches in a belt so it can keep up with weight loss.
We owe them a debt. I include myself because, like your parents, I'm not in Venezuela to join the fight. Circumstances made us part of a Venezuelan Diaspora that looks upon their country from afar, but feels it so very close. When we see tear gas canisters flying, our eyes water too. When we see an old woman stand up to a military truck full of hate with her body, our muscles and spirit also grow large and strong. We too feel our country at our fingertips, but our feet are not planted there and so we can't do as much as we'd want. This Diaspora that you and I are a part of also has a responsibility to give back in any way we can. I have a feeling that very soon we will have a chance to do even more, and we have to be ready.
You girls don't know it yet, but there's nothing like dancing salsa at El Maní es Así. Like dipping your feet in the tranquil waters of Playa Guacuco. Like going down the long slides in El Museo del Niño or visiting the otters at Parque del Este. You don't know yet how pretty El Ávila is in December, how high the stairs of El Calvario go, how fun it is to go to a Caracas-Magallanes baseball game. But, coño, it's the commitment of many--myself included--to make sure that you have the opportunity to live all that. The fight will be long and hard, but there's nothing in this life worth fighting for that isn't.
In the meantime I hope for the day that you'll hear the tic-tac of the Cruz-Diez floor as your luggage rolls through the Maiquetía airport--when you run through it's halls dizzied by all the yellow, blue and red. I hope to be able to wait for you there. I'll give your mom a kiss, and I'll hug your dad, who's like a brother to me. The first thing I'll say is: "Welcome to your country. Lets get to work."