MANIFESTO OF THE SCIENCE FICTION COMMUNITY IN VENEZUELA ON THE RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE COUNTRY
“[…] Why do the soldiers go? Why does a man go kill strangers?”
“But that’s what soldiers are for…”
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed
UTOPIAS DON’T EXIST
In 1516 Thomas More wrote one of the most important precursors to what we now call as science fiction. It was a book called Utopia, a vision of a perfect society where everyone lived in harmony and worked for the common good. In it people worshipped God freely and did not know hate, envy or sin. The argument was somewhat similar to what the Wachowskis would depict in their movie The Matrix some centuries later: a matrix prototype providing endless gratification to the humans connected to it.
The 20th century was a witness to science fiction’s rise and popularity. It likewise saw the upsurge of regimes such as the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, real-life promises of perfect societies that were put into practice but then deteriorated into some of the bloodiest criminal acts ever seen in history. It was not a utopia, but rather a dystopia, the ‘not-good place,’ which although seemed like a nightmare, proved to be all too real for anyone who suffers from it. Utopias, a term derived from the Greek words meaning ‘no’ and ‘place,’ are, by definition, inexistent. Countless sci-fi authors have demonstrated it and still insist on it because it is necessary. Because dystopias, on the hand, do exist.
Today, Venezuela takes a nosedive into anomie in pursuit of the promise of a perfect future. The national collective dedicated to genre writing, which, like the rest of the literary community, has been both a witness and a victim of the vaporization of free cultural spaces, has seen science fiction’s worst turmoil coming to life: a government slowly conquering spaces with a neo-language, demanding absolute devotion from a subjugated citizenry, justifying the betrayals among family members, and announcing that the matrix is perfect, even though in reality you are connected to a system that is killing you. Ursula K. Le Guin writes in The Dispossessed that “[t]he individual cannot bargain with the State. The State recognizes no coinage but power: and it issues the coins itself.” George Orwell adds in 1984 that “Humanity is the Party. The others are outside — irrelevant.”
The popular truism has it that 1984 is a warning and not an instruction manual, and yet the line remains relevant. We, the undersigned, affiliated with the Venezuelan sci-fi and fantasy literature community, raise our voice to promote art as resistance. In less than a month of struggle, there have been thirty-eight deaths,12 as well as hundreds who have been hurt or detained in a violent or irregular manner, most of whom are young people, the promise of a future that will no longer be. We exhort all the artists from different disciplines to hold each other’s hands and recall that line from V for Vendetta: “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.”
For in the face of dystopia, no one can afford the luxury of indifference.
Signed in Venezuela on the 12th day of May 2017.
Juan Carlos Aguilar
Rafael Baralt Lovera
Marco Antonio Bastardo Ordaz
Ana Camacho Guerrero
Julio Nicolás Camacho
Carlos Eduardo Demoly Briceño
Rafael Eduardo Figueredo Oropeza
Iliana Gómez Berbesí
Jorge Gómez Jiménez
Javier E. González F.
José Eduardo González Vargas
Romelia Guerrero de Camacho
Miguel Humberto Hurtado
Gonzalo Jiménez Sagarzazu
Carlos Francisco Millán Verde
Guido David Nuñez-Mujica
Danny J. Pinto-Guerra
Alcides Del Valle Rojas Barroso
J. Andrés P. Tovito
William A. Trabacilo
Vladimir Vásquez F.
(Translated from Spanish by Marlon James Sales, 5 August 2017)
Editorial Notes: Tanya Tynjala, our Spanish Language Editor – contacted me a few days ago regarding Susana Sussman, one of our Spanish Language contributors; they are both justifiably concerned about the situation in Venezuela. Inquiries regarding their safety reveal that Susana remains in country owing to family ties. Tanya currently resides in Finland. If any of our extened Venezuelan family needs assistance, Amazing Stories is ready to do what it can. I expect that our Euro-friends are in a position to do more, owing to the US’s currently volatile emmigration policies.
I think that Venezuelan genre folks could probably use some help; the internet is apparently down or spotty, there have been power outages and near-constant protests that have become deadly. I will be exploring some fund-raising possibilities with Tanya and anyone else who wishes to contact me.
Background: A timeline of major events
Amazing Stories has not had a chance to independently backrground these various support organizations; they are sourced from reputable news sources but one never knows in this era of fake news and political hacking, so please, before making a donation of any kind, please verify that your donation will be used to help the protesters and the uninvolved.