By Jennifer Barreto-Leyva
CARACAS — We are about to experience an emotional day in Venezuela. On February 12, Venezuela will vote in the opposition’s primary elections. It is where the country will choose from among five different candidates, all of them with different political views and leanings but most of them with good intentions and qualified to take on such a big responsibility.
This will be the 14th election since Hugo Chavez has been in power. In previous “elections,” it has been a Chavez vs Chavez situation. For the first time in many years, we will have the chance to choose, with a very different system, someone who can represent and stand for that other Venezuela, not known to many. The tabloid-style Venezuela is what the world thinks we are, but nothing can be farther from the truth.
What complicates things in Venezuela is that no one knows how many more years Chavez will go strong. As with every political contest, dirty games and low blows are common practices among the pool of competitors. Yet, what almost all of the presidential candidates haven’t understood yet is what kind of position they are running for.
Venezuelan politicians, especially the candidates, are still acting and thinking as if there is no sense of urgency in Venezuela.
The old-school politicians refuse to understand that their time is over; we don’t want them anymore. It’s because of what they did for 50 years is the reason why we have someone like Hugo Chavez in power today.
In recent days, public fights between politicians have turned into a very sad public war. First was Omar Barboza, president of Un Nuevo Tiempo party, bad-mouthing the other primary candidates competing against his protégée Pablo Perez.
Last week, probably the lowest and most pathetic exhibition of violence, took place between Angel Palmieri, campaign director for Josy Fernandez, who is running for Alcaldia Los Salias, who verbally and physically assaulted Ovidio Lozada, current mayor of Alcaldia Los Salias, who is running for a second term. They’re supposedly both on the same political side, but obviously don’t have the same intentions for the country.
Another unfortunate display of what not to do in politics during such a critical time as ours was what my long-time friend, Julio Borges, did via Twitter. He urged candidate Gerardo Blyde to ask that his competitor, David Uzcategui, be disqualified — a move I totally disagree with.
During such a delicate time as ours, people who really love their country, especially public servants like politicians, need to remain united, working hard and giving their best towards the one and only goal — leading Venezuela into the future.
Maybe because the political parties are seeing how all the negativity is pulling the political process apart they have created the Mesa de la Unidad ((Table of Unity). It’s a kind of pact where they commit to stay together and support each other during difficult moments in the campaign.
There may be a mesa (table)(somewhere) but not many people are pulling their chairs up to the table.
Yet, for the sake of the future of our next generation, and for national dignity and peace, I particularly hope it will not be too late when politicians finally realize that their behavior is not only reflective of how the world sees our nation but how we want our country to be seen — with integrity, respect and honor.
Learn more about Jennifer Barreto-Leyva
Jennifer Barreto-Leyva lives in Caracas, Venezuela where when this 5″11 venezolana is not defending the rights of her clients as a lawyer or inspiring people as a motivational speaker, she is an outspoken defender on the rights of plus-size people.
Jennifer is Miss Plump Venezuela and the first Latina who participated and won the Miss Universe for Plus-size title. She is also the first venezolana plus-size model and, consequently, is credited for introducing the plus-size modeling division throughout Latin America.
Since 1999, Jennifer has penned a regular column, Tu Rincon con Jen, for the only online site dedicated to plus size people in Spanish, gordos.com. In addition, Jennifer is also taking her message about body issues as a blogger with Estilos Blog, a celebrity blog based in Florida.
Because of her sassy outspokenness and willingness to force the issue that beauty does not lie with a person’s weight, Jennifer has found her message much in demand from South and North America to Europe and Asia.
As a result, Jennifer has launched the first spanish-language magazine in history for plus-size people — Belleza XL.
In addition, Jennifer continues to provide constant inspiration for women of all sizes through her blog and Facebook page. She says that she always knew that when it came to defending who she was, no one was going to do it for her.
I saw myself different (as a child), not only when it comes to my size but my beauty as well. I’ve always had to deal with people’s cruelty because they think I’m ugly and have no hesitation letting me know that. I had to be strong and mature when no one around was. I’m beautiful because I’ve decided and feel that way, not because everyone else says it is so.