by Jennifer Barreto-Leyva
VENEZUELA: Venezuela, the land well known as the territory where beautiful women are born, the land of oil â€” and the land of political controversy for the last ten years.
This is the most ridiculously extremist country, where everything and anything is possible.
While the Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero was playing a song for Mr. Obama in Washington D.C. during the inauguration, a group of students were almost tortured for expressing their opinion about the new referendum.
A referendum already passed last year where most of the 60% of Venezuelans told Hugo ChÃ¡vez: WE DONÂ´T WANT YOU IN POWER FOREVER AND ANYMORE, but he insisted and changed the rules in his favor once again.
Students take to the streets after unknown assailants threw tear gas at their meeting in Caracas. President Hugo Chavez, who is seeking an end to term limits through a Feb. 15 referendum, has denounced opponents and said at a meeting that he would order the use of tear gas against student protesters.
(Source: Associated Press, Howard Yanes)
Lovely democracy of oursâ€¦
This is the country where women are told since babies that they have to be plastic, tall and thin to be successful in life, they must participate in beauty pageants and thereâ€™s no other way to make it. The more surgeries you have the more you are worthy as a woman, the higher your selfsteem should be.
But the reality is that 90 percent of women are of medium height, over size 12/14 and havenâ€™t participated in any pageant. Among the 90 percent, 25-30 percent of women are battling anorexia or bulimia and the rest of them are dealing with deep self-esteem issues.
Thank you media.
While we have currency restrictions ($200 per person, per year for internet shopping and $2000 per person, per year only for traveling purposes), (the Department of )Customs have been stuffed with toys, liquors, clothing, computers and electronics since December.
Millions of people are starving on the streets, homeless, begging for government action; begging for help, while all the restaurants and international flights are booked, Hummers are all over the place and you must wait for two years on a waiting list if you want a new car.
Our culture is terribly homophobic and the reality is the GBLT (gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender) community is probably one of the biggest ones in the entire country.
I could give millions of examples of how dramatically different we are, and how black and white is the Venezuelan Society in current times.
While Iâ€™m writing this article, Iâ€™m wondering where is is the gray in all this? Where is the tolerance and respect? Where is the democracy, the real freedom?
When have we become so all or nothing? When have we become a country of life or death?
Where is the balance, the middle in all this?
My biggest fear: WHERE ARE WE GOING?
>Learn more about Jennifer:
Jennifer Barreto-Leyva lives in Caracas, Venezuela where when this 5â€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.
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.
Jennifer provides constant inspiration for women of all sizes at her blog, Facebook and MySpace pages and 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.