jueves, 28 de septiembre de 2017

México lindo



Visitar México siempre me da un poco de miedo. No me da miedo México, pero me da miedo abrir el corazón y luego cerrarlo abruptamente en el regreso. Ese acto de expansión y encogimiento nunca es fácil. Todo el tiempo en mi país traigo el desasosiego de la despedida y la distancia atorada en la garganta (una distancia que también se encoge y luego se ensancha, al revés del corazón), resistiendo las ganas inaguantables de mandarlo todo a la chingada y quedarme nomás. 

No es la comida (aunque daría lo que fuera, en cualquier momento, por una tortilla hecha a mano salidita del comal, o la visión de las montañas de fruta en los mercados, o un bolillo recién horneado, o un taquito de la esquina, o un plato de pozole o un tamal rosa de dulce  y un atole de cajeta y la lista es interminable). No es el clima (aunque hay que saber del pinche invierno, gris, oscuro a las 4 de la tarde, pelón y muerto, y hay que saber de la lluvia helada a tres o dos grados centígrados y un paraguas que no puede con las ráfagas de viento, y hay que saber del frío que duele en la piel y te encierra en espacios con calefacción para entender el lujo indescriptible del sol que no se acaba todo el año). No son las playas ni los paisajes ni los edificios coloniales (aunque me gusta cómo en México germinan los mejores cuadros de las escenas más modestas: un horizonte montañoso encima de los tinacos de cemento, o un cerrito verde detrás de un tendedero, o una calle empedrada y estrecha subiendo hacia una catedral amarilla o rosa). 

Lo que aprieta más fuerte al corazón cuando estoy lejos es una multitud de otras cosas: quiero escuchar el lenguaje de los chiflidos en las calles y en los portones y debajo de las ventanas, quiero escuchar ese chiflido fuerte y corto con el que los mexicanos le piden a alguien que voltee o que se asome. Quiero escuchar los llamados del afilador y el señor de los camotes. Quiero que la gente escuche el radio en las fondas, y en las tienditas y en los microbuses. Quiero la variedad y hondura de un mundo hecho de una multitud de mundos: el son jarocho o el son de tierra caliente o el abajeño o el huapango; el violín de los mariachis o de las pirecuas o de la huasteca potosina; el mole rojo o verde o negro o amarillo o coloradito (o blanco o rosa o de olla o almendrado); cada rincón sus máscaras y sus danzas y sus maneras de pedir la novia o celebrar un santo o recordar sus muertos o atesorar la imagen de un niño Dios o  peregrinar hasta una iglesia o una virgen. Quiero ver, de vez en cuando, chingá, una casa pintada de morado o verde brillante, quiero esa belleza chillona que es también una forma de alegría. Quiero que en la tienda me pregunten “¿qué te doy güerita?” y quiero que el taxista me cuente toda la historia de su vida y me pregunte la historia de mi vida. Quiero la familiaridad y la irreverencia con la que los mexicanos tratan a los desconocidos para crear intimidad y cercanía. Los canadienses son mundialmente famosos por su amabilidad y sí que son amables pero también observan siempre una distancia respetuosa que los mexicanos saben cómo romper de golpe y esa manera de hablarte de tú y hacerte un chiste no es necesariamente amabilidad sino calidez y esa calidez es irremplazable y dulce. Quiero la generosidad sin aspavientos que nace de tener por fuerza que apoyarse en la familia y en el barrio. Quiero las reuniones familiares multitudinarias. Quiero las fiestas escandalosas que se la siguen. Quiero que a veces la voluntad para ser felices y pasarla bien pueda más que las obligaciones. Quiero esa profunda, inexplicable capacidad para la alegría. Quiero el sentido del humor, negro y políticamente incorrecto, y esa manera de usar el humor para hacerle frente también a la muerte y la tragedia. Quiero esa fuerza. Es una fuerza indescriptible, sin medida, que sostiene a los migrantes a través del desierto y sostiene a la gente que trabaja duramente y sin descanso, en el campo y en las fábricas y bajo el rayito de sol en los semáforos. Más que otras cosas duele particularmente ver esa lucha, y saber que esa lucha es particularmente difícil, pero quiero la fuerza que nace cotidianamente ahí y la manera en la que la gente es fuerte sin ser áspera ni dura.
Porque quiero saber también que, si la tierra tiembla y mi casa se sacude, va a haber una multitud de manos extendiéndose hacia el derrumbe. 

Estuve en Michoacán los días del último temblor pero tuve que regresar a Toronto casi de inmediato. Y asistí desde la distancia, por televisión y redes sociales y crónicas individuales a la explosión generosa, a la solidaridad como maremoto de los mexicanos: un mar de manos, un mar de maneras de hacer cercanos a los desconocidos. En todos los países donde hay un desastre o una tragedia la gente hace lo posible por ayudar pero esto es distinto. Es espontáneo, auto-organizado (y bien organizado), es multitudinario y omnipresente, está hecho con ingenio y con imaginación, está tejido con actos de gran desprendimiento, de generosidad y calidez enormes. Así como los pueblos de pronto se levantan para hacer revoluciones, ahora en México se ha levantado el pueblo en un abrazo colectivo. Las dos cosas nacen quizás del mismo instinto, de una conciencia que vuelve a los problemas de los extraños tan importantes como los problemas propios. 

Eso lo traigo atorado como un nudo o una astilla y no hay manera de sacudir de adentro tanta distancia. Porque no es la comida, ni el clima, ni la arquitectura colonial ni las playas o los paisajes. Es la gente. Chingá. La gente chingona de México. Y esto es desde luego un error. Es un engaño del corazón que colorea las cosas libremente,  el corazón de todos es así y el mío mucho, desde siempre: una distorsión romántica tras otra. México tiene muchas cosas feas, muchas cosas malas, mucha gente chingona pero también una bola de lacras. Y acá en Canadá no hay que preocuparse por esconder el celular o la cartera y se vive en paz y sin tanto sobresalto. Pero si el corazón nos engaña es porque estamos enamorados. Y el amor no es por completo una distorsión sino también una manera de entender bien, de mirar por encima de la superficie y acceder a algo que sabemos cierto, y bueno. Estoy enamorada de México. Es mi tierra. Ahora hay que volver, de una vez por todas. Hay que volver a México. Hay que volver a vivir con los compatriotas y poner el corazón y el alma en casa, estar con la gente querida. No hay de otra.

domingo, 21 de febrero de 2016

Is Bernie Sanders an unrealistic option?




I’m in love with a 74 year old self-declared democrat socialist and I don’t even live in the States. Still, I’m in love, a little bit obsessed. Not only because his policies are wider and bolder than those of his opponent; they seem wild to some people in the States I guess, but for someone living in Canada (where universal healthcare is a given) and who grew up in Mexico (where there are some very good and completely tuition-free Universities), Bernie Sander’s proposals are pretty short from “radical”. Sanders is fascinating because he wants to change the way big money’s interests influence elections and in the end, public policy decisions. He is funding his campaign through small donations. He is not polishing a calculated public persona; he is the same, slightly cranky (but engaging), finger wagging, messy hair person now that he was before campaigning, and he says the same things he’s been saying for decades, and he didn’t remove the “socialist” label just to appear less radical or menacing to the general public. That takes guts and integrity, and it is so rare to associate those words to someone who has been involved in politics for many years. You have to fall in love because there is so much David vs Goliath narrative in there. Because it is going to be so difficult to take on the big machine armed with unpolished honesty, a small donations army, and no personal attack ads on the opponent. And because there is something absolutely beautiful about someone, in this day and age, willing to take on that fight. And there is something very inspiring about all the people who are taking on that fight along with him. People who don't have a lot of money, are donating money. People who juggle two or three jobs and don’t have the luxury of time  still go out and volunteer and campaign for David instead of Goliath. There has been suggested (very often), that these people are naïve, too idealistic dreamers, and that pushing for the nomination of Bernie Sanders, in a country so politically divided as the States, is pretty much like giving away the general election to the Republican Party, which would be not just costly, but catastrophic, to many of the same vulnerable people who are trying to get him elected. I can understand someone having reservations on Sanders based on his policies and views. If you’d rather have some kind of modest debt relief program for student loans instead of actual tuition free universities, if you prefer to keep the insurance companies embedded in your healthcare system as opposed to a single payer version, if you believe that big banks should be sort of regulated and broken if, maybe, they pose an hypothetical danger as opposed to acknowledging they pose a big risk and should be broken NOW, if you think that Citizens United should be overturned but you are not too troubled by super PACs putting money into your candidate’s campaign (if you are not troubled by Wall Street’s speaking fees), then, by all means, vote for Hillary. But don’t say that you agree with Sanders’ goals and then turn your back on them because they are “unrealistic”. They are difficult to accomplish. Difficult is not the same as unrealistic. The big choice here is not between “dream” vs “reality”, “idealism” vs “practicality”, or “heart” vs “head”. The choice is between more easily achieved top-down incremental changes and the hard work involved in opting for bottom-up meaningful transformations. Hillary is saying: I have the experience and the connections to fight, modestly, within the confines of the status quo, for you. Sanders is saying: to change the status quo in a meaningful way I need you, all of you, to keep on fighting along with me, before, and more importantly, after the election. Sanders’ road takes more work, it is more unlikely and unpredictable. But it is not by any means impossible, or unrealistic. It is not less necessary, at a moment in history when so many decisions are so obviously determined by lobbyist and corporations instead of regular people. 

He is not Ralph Nader; he polls very well and even better than Hillary against GOP candidates. Yes, he is going to be attacked for being a “socialist” and the right wing will associate him to communism and labor camps and they are going to underline time and time again that he wants to (oh no!) “redistribute your wealth”. But that seams easier to fight against than the way the GOP will use the email “scandal” and how they will continue to push the eroding narrative of Hillary as a candidate “you can’t trust”. Both Hillary and Bernie will face ardent opposition from the Republican isle, regardless of the scope of their agendas.  No matter who wins the Democratic nomination, democrat-leaning voters will rally around their candidate if anything just to push against the Republican nominee. The Democrats better have a passionate, committed and energized electorate behind them when that time comes (and in that sense Bernie seems a more dynamic and inspiring option, with a clearer and broader message, than Hillary). 

The Democratic Party has opted too often for the more timid, cautious road. The Republicans have certainly not.  As Bill Maher once said, “Democrats listen to polls. Republicans move them”. As a result, the country as a whole has gravitated forcefully to the right. Maybe the Democrats would be winning more battles if they were less scared to claim their own ideals and goals. The Republican voters don’t care about how outrageous their candidates are. Trump voters don’t overthink whether or not he has a chance to win. And there he is, winning. Not that I want in any way draw any kind of similarities between Sanders and Trump (who are unmistakably very different indeed), but maybe this is a year when it pays better to be bold and honest than to be conciliatory and restrained.

The reason why Hillary has better chances to win the nomination is none other than the fact that she is already a big, well-financed machine, with the party’s establishment closing ranks behind her. She is the Goliath of this particular equation. So, there has to be a lot of idealism, indeed, to be pushing for David instead. And I do not think idealism is a bad word. I believe, in fact, that is the best word the party can put forward against a rabid, fear-mongering, Republican side. Not tentative aims and speeches like “I will sort of regulate big banks and brake them if they pose a risk”, but clear, resonating statements like “If they are too big to fail they are too big to exist”.

Bernie has been prematurely written off, many times. Now that he lost Nevada (even though he closed a very wide gap in a very short amount of time), he will be dismissed again. I believe this particular juncture has as much to do with him as it has to do with the role voters are willing to play. They can accept the inevitability of the big electoral machines, or they cannot. And I will end here with a rather sappy reference which, I must accept, reeks of romantic idealism; it is Paul Newman’s speech at the end of “The Verdict”. In the movie, an alcoholic lawyer is taking on a David vs Goliath fight against an evidently rigged system, and he is talking to the jury in his final argument saying:

“You know, so much of the time we’re just lost. We say, “Please, God, tell us what is right; tell us what is true.” And there is no justice. The rich win, the poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie. And after a time, we become dead, a little dead. We think of ourselves as victims and we become victims. We become weak. We doubt ourselves, we doubt our beliefs. We doubt our institutions. And we doubt the law. But today you are the law. You are the law. Not some book, not the lawyers, not a marble statue or the trappings of the court. See those are just symbols of our desire to be just. They are, in fact, a prayer: a fervent and a frightened prayer. In my religion, they say, “Act as if ye had faith… and faith will be given to you.” If we are to have faith in justice, we need only to believe in ourselves. And act with justice…”

What is at stake now, is how the game of democracy is played. People can surrender to the notion that it is not realistic to win without establishment endorsements and big PAC’s money. But the people are the voters. Elections are also decided by voters. And to believe that integrity and small donations are enough to take on the machine and push for the agenda they agree with the most, maybe voters (specially left-leaning ones) need only to believe in themselves.