Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta politics. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta politics. Mostrar todas las entradas

jueves, 15 de diciembre de 2016

The president

   In the kitchen, everyone was working at full capacity. There was not a single person standing by, doing nothing. Every single worker was doing something, even if they were just apprentices or the chef himself. All hands were needed for the banquet to go exactly as planned and one of the most important parts of the whole experience was, of course, the food. It wasn’t possible to do a proper banquet without a great menu and the one for that event had been checked at least a hundred times and by a diverse group of people, all with different tastes.

 Of course, the most important person in the whole gala was the president, as he had been the one to organize the event. It wasn’t one of those planned things that took place every single year but an impromptu kind of thing that had arisen from the fact that the president wanted to do a benefit for a cause he thought had not been helped enough in recent years. Public opinion was really divided on the subject but most people admired what he had done and how he had done it. After all, it was very uncommon for a president to stop his work to do something else.

 Some papers were criticizing every single aspect of the event, from the price of the food and the flower arrangements, to the list of guests. Some said it was too big and others too small. Some said he had invited people from the wrong countries and organizations and others praised him exactly for that. It wasn’t new that the press was not in agreement completely; they had always been very divided on the presidency from day one, which had taken place a little more than a year ago, after a very uncommon period of transition.

 Awkward was the better word because the new president had asked the old one to give him an office in the presidential headquarters, as he wanted to check on everything as it happened. Such a thing had never been attempted and a certain distance was thought to be the wisest thing when dealing with such a moment. But from the first moment of him been the president elect of the country, it was very clear he wasn’t going to be like any other president, in the country’s past or in other countries. He was, for lack of a better word, uncommon.

 Very uncommon indeed as he had won in the most unexpected way, when many people had decided it was the best to make a change at the very last minute. Polls had never granted him the presidency and he thought, the morning of the election itself, that he was going to lose for sure but he wanted to go away gracefully so he did something unexpected: he shared the day with people around his city, visiting tourist spots and taking random pictures. Apparently people loved that because in the afternoon, polling stations were filled with voters.

 By the end of the night, he had been declared the winner with over five percent of the vote over the other candidate; a woman everyone had predicted would be the next president. She was the very opposite of him, someone who seemed to have fire in her eyes, always talking with an amount of passion that seemed to much for such a small woman. Millions adored her and, of course, by the big conglomerates that actually controlled the country. She loved to speak about economics and foreign affairs and all such things.

 However, the new president had never really been passionate for anything. To be perfectly honest, he had been chosen out of nowhere by the third most important party in the country. It was predicted that the two most voted parties in the last election would hold the same spots in the new election but that didn’t happen. People were tired of the game between those two parties that, at the end of the day, were exactly the same party if you were to compare their policies on several key elements of people’s lives. They just had slight differences.

 Studies on those elections would last for years, as never had predicted that surge of a third option. And now that third option was organizing an impromptu dinner in honor of a cause many thought wasn’t “attractive” enough. In this day and age, people still thought some subjects were best not spoken out loud, in the open, much less in a fancy dinner table with expensive Champaign and a band playing music from eighty years ago. The president was known by now for his odd choices and that was also reflected on his choice of food.

 The people in the kitchen had elaborated a menu that mixed very high cuisine with foods that everyone loved. The dishes were particularly successful among the special guests of the evening. In other words, the people that were directly affected by the charity they were raising money form. After all, they were all normal people that did not really have experience in fancy dinners and strange food, so the combination of high cuisine experiments with almost fast food, was a success among them and many presidential supporters.

 Of course, the richest people in the event weren’t very thrilled to be eating what were basically hamburgers, hot dogs and fried chicken, in a very old hall that had a long history of elegant banquets to celebrate the riches of the rich, instead of charitable efforts. However, the rich were never shy when it came to donating, as it was the perfect way to pay fewer taxes and to be seen as some kind of savior by the people that were benefitted by that money they didn’t need.

 It was incredible to see how the people, the same that had voted for the president, supported him again on that decision and thought the choices overall were just excellent. Some thought they were funny enough but everyone agreed that it was the necessary shake up that needed to happen in such a stiff political environment. Everyone took things too seriously sometimes and it was nice to see that the president had a sense of humor or at least the capacity to be different. People admired him for that, long before he was a president.

 It was never really clear if he did those things on purpose or if everything was kind of a “happy accident”. Whatever it was, it always seemed to work. It was the same thing when he worked for a large software conglomerate where most of the workers were younger than him and he wasn’t even that old. At first they mistrusted him because they didn’t thought it was possible he would even know about what they did in the company, but after a while he showed everyone how interested and invested he was on the company, surprising them in many ways.

 Of course, he was always nervous. He had even joked that he would love to have a first lady by his side to have someone to hold hands with in the most tense and difficult moments. He even joked he would settle for a first gentleman and some of the journalists laughed out loud that day. He was something very unexpected and was attacked because he wasn’t the same kind of politician everyone had seen once and again for the last hundred years. But that’s exactly why so many people supported him; he was very different from them all.

 Some of his supporters had even organized meetings to help him with some subjects and to get him to talk about things that people felt were important in that moment. And he was gracious enough to hear them, after the meetings he had to attend about the economy or foreign trade or who knows what. He always had time for everyone and he seemed to be happier when talking and sharing with actual people. That’s why some said he was the best president in the world and others said he was a disaster waiting to happen.

 After the gala, he sent the millions won for the charity to the proper people and many were able to find some kind of solace in the fact that he had remembered them as victims. Rumors of a second term were already in the air. But when asked about it, he always laughed loudly and said he would rather end the one he was in first to see if he was successful enough to deserve more time. Of course, three years later, he won by a landslide, another unexpected win.

martes, 10 de mayo de 2016


   Thousands of cameras flashed at the same time and then over and over again when Amy came out of the house. They al wanted to ask the same question: “How well do you think it’s going to go for you tonight?” And Amy wanted to answer but she just entered the car that was waiting her and drove away without saying a word. Her publicist praised her for not saying a word but she didn’t even heard her. She was too busy trying to answer the question the media was asking.

 Would she win the election? Maybe. There was a strong possibility that it might happen for her. It was no mystery that her campaign had been primarily focused on the fact that she was a woman and the she was not one of the political elite. She was just a councilwoman in the most populated city in the country and she had become an important part of politics in a single day.

 The party she was running for had chosen her over many other candidates because they had thought they could mold her into someone people would like and vote for, someone that did not look at all like all those older men that had dominated politics for so long. They wanted to restart with a fresh face, especially after failing to win the election for a third time in a row. They had to take advantage of the opportunity being offered by the fact that the current government was shaking.

 One scandal after the other had taken its toll on people’s opinion and, according to the latest polls; the two candidates were virtually tied. So everything could be decided by a handful of votes and that was very important. They had to ensure that they had every single possible vote in their pocket and that’s why Amy had travelled across the country, without a rest, for the last five months.

 She wasn’t an experienced politician but what the party liked about her was that she could be able to be close to people in a way most politicians just couldn’t. She didn’t look fake when talking to a mother or a person that had lost it all. They could take Amy to a prestigious country club or to a soup kitchen in the most horrible part of a city and in both cases she would be able to be sympathetic and relatable.

 By the time she entered that car, the truth was that she felt exhausted. She didn’t want to walk anymore. She just wanted a good night’s sleep but that wasn’t possible on Election Day. They had paraded her around all day and she hadn’t even been able to properly eat anything, only some fruit her assistant was able to pass to her before the day properly began. And she couldn’t even eat it all because someone took the box away from her to give her a speech she had to memorize.

 Amy Walker was almost forty years old and that apparently was something people liked. They also liked the fact that she looked modern and seemed to know everything about the world today. She had all the gadgets and even tried to run her own social media but that was difficult because of the amount of things she had to do in a day. So, normally, Amy would only write herself a message once a day and the rest were images and phrases posted by her team.

 To her, that seemed a little bit like cheating but she reminded herself that it was all part of being a public figure. Most of those people had no way of managing anything by themselves because of their schedules and priorities. She would have wanted to be more in touch with her voters, but she could only do that in some events and even then it was extremely hard to get really close to any of then.

 In the car, her assistant gave her a box of sushi. She was so hungry that she ate five pieces in less than five minutes. Someone was trying to explain to her something about how the election work and such, but she was to hungry to even care. She asked for a bottle of water and has some, drinking almost half of the bottle in one gulp. Amy not only felt hungry and thirsty but also desperate. She felt like the space she was in was too small. In a second, she had fainted.

 When she woke up, she was still in the car. They had apparently stopped because the doors were opened and, as soon as she opened her eyes, her assistant got closer and grabbed her hand. She helped her sit down properly, as she had been lying down in the back seat of the big car. In a strange moment of privacy, they hugged and her assistant told her she was sorry for not being able to give her more time to adjust to it all and to eat. She felt guilty somehow.

 But Amy didn’t say anything about that. Instead, she asked where they were. One of the bodyguards helped her out of the car and she realized they had arrived at the convention center but they were in a lonely part of the parking lot. Policemen had possibly closed it only for her. She was thankful for that. Amy told her assistant to walk her wherever she had to go and the poor assistant did exactly that, a bit scared she might not have recuperated fully.

 Indeed, Amy did not feel very good, but there was no point in turning back and laying in that car forever. It was her night and she had to be there to see if everything went as they thought it would go. It was the final step of the road and she couldn’t just miss it.

 They all entered a backroom and then descended some stairs to the place where she would get her makeup done and a new outfit. She asked her assistant to update her every time there was something big happening and the younger woman just nodded as the candidate entered her prep room. Inside, many more people were waiting for her, in order to turn her into one of the many images that people liked.

 One group washed her hair and the other retouched her nails and toes. She had undressed behind a curtain and taken off her dress and everything else and put on a white bathrobe to be more comfortable. As she had sat down in the chair, her assistant had told her that the polling centers had closed and that results would start coming in very soon.

 It was a tense moment for her but she tried to enjoy being pampered and taken care off. That always helped her get a bit more relax. Besides, she really needed to be refreshed because of all that she had done that day: visit a school, then greeting the military and visiting a factory. And all of that had happened before noon. Afterwards she had done so many things that she was sure she couldn’t even remember them all.

 The first state had been called within the next five minutes and it was for her rival. Then the second and the third, also for her rival. Her team reminded her that those territories did not make part of their plans, so it was a predictable thing that they hadn’t gone their way.

 Another two were called as they blow-dried her hair: another for her rival and one for her. They celebrated but the cheers were not precisely happy because of the disadvantage she was in. Amy thought to herself that, if she had to make a speech from a loser’s point of view, she could even pull it off in a better way than if she had won. Maybe all of that fancy politics stuff wasn’t just for her and she needed to go back to the city council and stay there.

 Two more states were called: both for her. As they finished preparing her and changing her into a new, more modern dress, the race became an almost tie. It was really going to be close and everyone in the room was as tense as they could be. When she was done, they all watch the TV screens together and waited until it came the time to go out to the stage.

 At least half of the votes had yet to enter the race and Amy realized she might become president. She might be the one to lead a whole country. And she knew that it would be difficult and hard on her. She didn’t know if she was the best for the job. But there she was. Only a few more votes…

miércoles, 26 de agosto de 2015

The death of the world

   My breathing was really heavy and I almost couldn’t move after pulling myself out of that lake full of tar or petroleum. I had no idea what it was and I wasn’t going to find out by staying there. The people that had dropped me there to kill me had already gone and the night was very dark in this part of the world. I wasn’t in the city anymore, I was somewhere where water was very highly contaminated and the birds didn’t even sing. As I cleaned myself with my hand and some big leaves of a tree, I realized the substance was very oily so it had to be petroleum.  Walking was the worst as I couldn’t move properly but I made the effort any way because I didn’t want to stay there through the night. I walked for an hour until I saw some lights and ran towards them.

 The lights became brighter and there were so many I couldn’t even count them all. They lit a huge factory with chimneys on top and suddenly I realized that place was the source of all the pollution. That was the place I had tried to shut down but many people were not at all interested in that. Money flowed from that factory and all because of the oil the tankers brought from the sea. I had been there and I had seen the platforms, horrible places were people that had nothing to lose decided to win their living. Those were not factories but prisons filled with heavy warmth and an awful smell. Needless to say, you couldn’t see a bird or any other animal near those places. Even they knew those places meant death.

 Instead of asking for help in the factory, I went the other way, following the road the trucks used to gain access to it. In no time, I was in the main road and a nice old lady picked me up. But there was more to her than what met the eye. I hadn’t called her and I would never use auto-stop, as the country was too dangerous for that sort of thing. I hopped into the backseat and we didn’t say a word until she left me in front of my home, an hour later. I just said “Thank you” and she just nodded. She was called Delilah and had been my friend for a long while but we never really spoke about our lives or anything like that. She had saved my life once and that was enough for us to become friends.

 Delilah had been married and had too sons and a daughter but they lived far away and she didn’t really care about them coming into her life again. She had raised them well, done her job and that’s all she was interested in. When I went up to my apartment, I wasn’t very shocked to see that every single object in my home was on the floor. Broken, torn apart or just laying there, all my life was on the floor. They had come here, maybe as they drugged me and dumped me in that thick lake, and destroyed everything. My backup files, all stores in hard drives, had been stolen and my computer was just a bunch of metal on my desk. But I had more backups so I didn’t really care about the state of things.

 I went through my ripped clothes and destroyed drawers. I grabbed some things that no one would care to take away like my mother’s wedding ring or my parent’s picture I kept in a book. They were my link to them because I wasn’t the type of person that was into graveyards or however you want to call them. I just liked to talk to their picture and tell them what I was up to then. I had always been the rebellious kind of kid and I knew they would be so worried about me. My mother would asked me if I had a way to clean myself and brush my teeth and my dad would remind me to check my body for bruises in the shower. Somehow, he said, the body bumps into things and you never realize it until it’s too late.

 They were the only two people in the world I cared about. They had died years before and now I was all alone, fighting against something that was bigger than me and that any other human being. I was trying to bring a corporation down and, although I had some friends like Delilah, none would be so much into this cause as I was. I had invested my life in investigating; taking advantage of my position in society to bring everyone involved in this down and now my life had an expiration date. What I couldn’t understand was why they had dropped me in that pond and not shot me or something. Were they cowards or was that their style? I don’t know and, honestly, I have no idea if I want to know.

 Proof. That’s what, supposedly, justice wants from me in order to apprehend the people that have cause so much misery and despair around the world. Because this city is just a piece of the whole puzzle. I have traveled the world and seen children drown in similar ponds to the one they wanted to use to kill me. Huge factories built just next to all the little and rattled houses that people have built with their effort and suffering. There’s nothing quite like misery because it’s brutal and forces you into the real world. It makes you see how more than half of the world lives their lives and that has the capacity to shock anyone that has feelings or even just a pair of good old eyes.

 I was the kind of person you would find in high society events, whether they happened in a club or in a yacht, in the Riviera or a penthouse in Paris. I was always there and I had been educated to know what to do, how to talk and who to be “friends” with. Because even then, I was friends with no one. My family knew that I hated all of it but that I did it for them because they were all too important in society. Every man and woman wanted to have my attention because they knew who I was. But they weren’t interested in knowing anything more than the amount of money I could give them or what I could show off to them. It was very pathetic.

 It was the day my parents died when I knew how vicious that society I had been feeding could be. The day of their burial, no one was there but me and a couple of people that were too afraid the ghosts of my parents would pull their legs as they slept. Cowards. They never moved a finger when I was being dragged through the mud, laughed at for everything I did to help people that had no way of helping themselves. None of those high and mighty people had any heart or soul. They only cared about profit and making their wallets and bank account even more filled with money. They cut every single link to my parents company and I had to save what I could before they tore it apart completely. My parents weren’t being stupid: they had left me enough for me to keep on living in peace for many years.

 I moved fro my former neighborhood, which helped me exterminate many bad feelings I had for all those people. I didn’t want to hate them so I just disappeared from their lives and asked them to disappear from mine. They heard me, at least that time, and I have to say I lived a very good year after that. I was teaching and I was helping the people I had met so many years before. But nothing can be as perfect forever. Life has a way to even out and that’s exactly what happened. I discovered the contamination of several national parks both in the sea and the land as well as contracts between oil companies and banks in order to make the economic system fall to their feet. That wasn’t a difficult thing to do.

 This world, after all, is not built on solid ground. Our society was built by greedy men that only thought of their profit in that moment of time but had no interest, or very little, in the future. People were not aware of how easy it was to influence the stock market in order to benefit a certain country or a certain type of company. I have to confess that when I discovered it all, I felt sick to my stomach and I felt guilty because I was part of the problem. I was the kind of person that complains but never does anything. I was the kind of person that things their ideas should be implemented and then I would go and have cocktails with my friends.

 I’m not saying people shouldn’t have fun. I only think we should all be more aware of what happens around us. How people in power use us to get there and never recall what the promises that were made were all about. Politicians are rotten because the whole system is in decay. I thought this to my students: the economic and political system of our western society cannot last for a thousand years. In one moment, everything will stumble because that’s what nature does. It has to keep changing in order to stay alive and nowadays, nature is slowly dying and we cannot do anything anymore. It’s too late for the world and now we have to pay the consequences of our ignorance.

 I help because I need to. Because I still feel guilty. Because I don’t have anything else to do. When I went back home, I put everything that hadn’t been torned apart into a suitcase. I grabbed it all and left for the place where I hid part of my archives. Those were not all but I didn’t need them all, not all the copies. I needed even more copies until the world decided to wake up and listen to what the planet had to say. After I picked up the information, Delilah came for me and took me to a city four hours away. It was the first time we actually chatted. And it felt good.

viernes, 8 de mayo de 2015

Local politics

  As Marina walked to her polling station, she repeated in her head the names of all the candidates or, at least, the names of the ones she knew about. This time there were so many names. She liked it more when it was between three or four people. But this time there were almost ten and that just seemed too much for a race for a mayoral post.

 Nevertheless, it was the most important mayoral post in the country. Some people even called it the second most important political figure in the country after the president. And that wasn’t surprising when you realized how really useless was a job like the one of the vice-president. Marina thought that office should disappear and pass their responsibilities to other hands. Most people in the country didn’t know who their vice-president once, except maybe this time around because it was well known he was going after the presidential seat in a few years time.

 But anyway, today was about the city. Marina had been born thee in a middle class neighborhood and had grown up there. She had never moved, except after college when she decided to leave the country to learn another language but that was it. She could say she knew every street, every corner of her neighborhood and also the whole city to be honest. After all, as a  girl who had worked as a delivery person in a pizza place, she had to know addresses and a good chunk of the city.

 Her district had grown through the years. When it first appeared on maps, some seventy years ago, the neighborhood was on the edge of the city and was home of the wealthy. Their house, beautifully constructed Victorian buildings still stood on every street of the district but wealthy people had long been gone. Many of them now lived in country houses or large apartments overlooking the city from the hills, which were the tallest geographical feature. Now her district was middle class and very diverse.

 Marina had seen change before her eyes, because her neighborhood had also attracted, over the years, a very diverse group of people. From people from other regions that had come to the capital for a better life to artists and intellectuals who made the Victorian houses their homes or cultural centers for the whole city. Many of them had been converted to dancing schools, acting schools, music conservatories and other uses. And maybe because of this, it was becoming rare to see big families leaving in the neighborhood. Instead there were a lot of “new” families coming such as homosexual couples and many singles and students.

 When she got to the polling station, Marina was already sure of her choice. It wasn’t difficult after all because there was only one person that would seek to preserve the past but also embrace the present, exactly what her district was all about and what she honestly loved about her neighborhood. Marina voted for a woman, one of only two women there, because she was the one most vocal to embrace the “new” city instead of going back to the old, ragged politics.

 In another part of town, more exactly near the hills that watched over the shallow valley were the city sat, Albert was stepping out of his polling station. He didn’t really put much thought about his vote as he had decided many months ago, since the candidates had become public.

 Albert was almost fifty years old, had a lovely wife, two kids and worked in the city’s stock market. It was a difficult job but one he loved because he had always been fond of numbers and, to be honest, of money. He made a lot of money in that job, more than he could have ever imagined and with his savings he had bought a large apartment, two cars and a flat by the beach, which they visited at least once a year.

 The truth was that, different than Marina, Albert wasn’t really in loved with this city. Yes, he had been born there but from a young age he had travelled around the world because of his father’s work and had learned how much better it could be for everyone. People in other countries could be financially better and be able to live an “easier” life. In this country, the differences between the rich and the poor were abysmal but the rich were not that rich to begin with.

 Besides all this, he was tired of the mayor’s policies to forbid him to use his cars as he wanted, the taxes went up every year so he could help pay what the poor spent in water and power and he thought that the city was mixing too much for his taste. As an example, in his neighborhood many people that used to live in other parts of the city had begun arriving recently. Some were foreigners hired by multinationals but some others were just people that made his district look bad.

 At work and around his family members, he would always try to convince them to vote like he did. He told them that the mayor had to be someone that worked the same way the government worked in the good years for the economy so the city could grow to make a better life for all of its inhabitants. As a proof of sorts of what he said about the current mayor, he told everyone he could hold on to for more than five minutes that he was thinking of moving to the countryside, to another jurisdiction, because he thought smaller towns knew exactly what to offer to people like him.

 So after he voted, he took his wife voting too and after that left the city to their beach flat where they would check the results o f the voting.

 Another person that was leaving the city was Juan. Juan had arrived to the city some two years ago, when looking for a university where he could study to become a designer. He worked very hard in his classes and always tried to innovate and be the one the teachers looked at. After all, his family had gone through great challenges in order to send him to another city to live and study. At the same time that Albert, Juan was leaving the city to visit his family back in his hometown after going to vote early.

 He preferred to do it really early so the voting station would be almost empty. It was well known that in the capital very few people voted earlier than midday and besides he had to be at the airport so he didn’t have much choice either. And talking about choices, his was a really difficult one. He had arrived to the city fairly recently but was able to vote because he had registered his ID in a polling station near his knew home.

 Juan lived a few blocks away from Marina but was only learning about the diversity in the district. He had grown in another kind of town, where people were less open and much more predictable in their voting ways. His parents had always voted for exactly the same party since they could remember but he didn’t want to be like that. He wanted to be the one of the few people that voted after thoroughly reading every single one of the proposals of every candidate.

 Some of them promised better transport, others better health other more security and so on. They seemed to be agreeing on several things but the truth was, when reading between the lines, that the same things meant different ways to get there for each candidate. One of them thought better transport was just having more buses and another thought it was all about the subway. Some declared security depended on education; other announced they would increase the number of cops in every part of the city. Two offered more hospitals, others more housing for the poor and one of them, funny enough, offered to reform the whole administrative division of the city to make it more realistic.

 It was a hard decision to make for Juan as this one was the first time he voted in the city and he planned to stay there long after he finished his studies. After all, this city offered more work opportunities and a lifestyle with more options than any other towns in the country. Yeah, of course everything was globalized now and things where changing even in the most traditional towns, but he felt that this city had a potential, had the capacity to be so much more than it was and he wanted to be a participant in that new era for the city.

 So when he went to cast his vote that morning, he decided to vote for the one candidate that had convinced him in most issues. He knew the man wasn’t going to win, if the polls were right, but he felt at ease thinking he had spoken his mind and had made the right choice, staying true to what he thought the city should be all about.