Valentina Guzman was the first case that Teodoro Petkoff talked about in his Editorials in Tal Cual on the victims of the Tascon or McCarthyist list. She was a lawyer at FOGADE and was fired along with most of the employees of that institution who signed the petition to recall President Hugo Chavez. Her great grandmother was my grandfather’s sister. She wrote this article in today’s Tal Cual.
I am not marrana* by Valentina Guzman Ramos
(*Marrana means either a swine or a converted Jew during the inquisition)
At the height of the Inquisition, according to Argentine writer Marcos Aguinis in his book “The heroic deeds of the Marrano”, those considered “heretical” by the Spanish crown, would be exhorted to “convert” to Catholicism so that they would not be taken to the bonfire for the sins charged due to their religious conditions. Those that were forced to accept would be called “marranos” because even though they had to accept, as their own, the catholic doctrine and faith, their blood was not one hundred percent clean or pure.
Many did it to save their lives and that of their families, others simply preferred to continue practicing their thousand-year traditions in silence or in some reckless cases, quite openly. Torquemada, the Spanish monk of the inquisition in charge of executing the decisions of the Kingdom, prepared his famous lists to inquire one by one, who had obeyed the royal edicts of conversion and those who because of “rebelliousness” had not complied with it. Of course, the latter were searched for in each corner of Spain and in each area of the new America, a continent to which they had to escape as their only way out of extermination.
This whole story took place during the years in which Isabella the Catholic governed the vast territories of the motherland, an epoch which was later called obscurantist, and of course, of little tolerance. I don’t know if I had a sort of “déja vú” or a close encounter with my recent reincarnations, but something similar (of, course, not as drastic as death) happened to the workers of FOGADE, for not being with “the process”. At times, I felt like a poor Jew or gypsy because for believing in a Constitution, or in the “rule of law” or in a “participative democracy”, I was “marked” and “pointed to” for manifesting my position both publicly and openly, signing the petition for a referendum that constituted a right, as much as any other consecrated in our “Carta Magna”. Thus, my new boss and some of my colleagues that worked with me, turned themselves into cruel instruments of persecution and harassment, elaborating lists, laughing in hiding, point at us as “opposition” and accusing us as if we had committed a terrible crime against an ideology that was imposed at all costs.
The saddest thing about the case is that in order not to be fired, many “converted” with their silence, or with their tacit acceptance and filthy complicity with the “process”. And with that change in attitude, the qualification of “marranos” ended up being too small and poor, because they literally sold their soul, their values and their beliefs in order to survive (Of course, this presupposes that they had had those souls, those values and those beliefs). At the beginning I judged them, and was so disappointed that they even got me depressed. With time, I learned that there are people whose dignity is worth very little, or better, is not worth anything.
Was I discriminated against? Everything seems to indicate that yes…But I have to confess and I say I in all honesty: I DO NOT REGRET HAVING EXPRESSED MY OPINION and what is worst (because for many this attitude is stubborn and arrogant) I continue to maintain it. I prefer to be condemned to die in a bonfire and burn in the fire of injustice, that sell myself for a salary, for stability, for economic benefits that in no way feed neither my spirit, nor my soul. I AM NOT A MARRANA and I say it with honor. I don’t need redeemers that want to scratch my name to “wash their hands” and “clean their sense of guilt” nor do I want either that my name be removed from any list, because if being in it meant fighting for what I believe in, then that is precisely where I want to be. Thus, Mr. Tascon and all the other “Pilates” of this Government: I don’t need your last hour favors, or your late “mercy”. I feel proud of what I did and happy because I did not silence my ideas, nor saved my thoughts. Signing to express my disagreement can not be considered a heroic act, or least of all a superhuman effort, it simply consisted on the exercise of a right that the same “inquisitors” established in our Constitution and which I exercise with pleasure.