Three Minute Showers

Posted November 3, 2009 from El Salvador

His words are wounding my self esteem. A soldier with a red cap stands in front of my bathroom and cuts the energy after three minutes of showering, he counts down “Five, four, three, two, one, get out lady, time is out”. I cannot believe we have become so poor that we can’t take a good shower anymore. Tears roll down my face as I ask; “Why are the CIA , the FBI and the rest of the right winger marionettes doing this to us?” Then I wake up flooded in sweat. Thank God it was just a dream.

But it is not a dream for my Venezuelan brothers and sisters. Hugo Chavez has demanded they take three minute showers as a way of saving energy. They are very close to having the soldier in their bathroom doors. The second part of the dream is also very real for them, as Chavez and his people always blame the right wing and the CIA and FBI for everything and anything that happens in Venezuela.

The state of denial in which left parties submerge us in Latin America, more specifically in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua, works like a heavy rainfall in front of the eyes of the most vulnerable people. It doesn’t let them see the truth, or the truth lies behind the rainfall, which they won’t cross because they are afraid of being exposed as traitors to the revolution.

Valentina, a very poor woman, mother of four girls, has worked as a maid all her life. She used to make one hundred dollars a month until four years ago, when Evo Morales took office in Bolivia, and a good market for the week was worth 10 dollars. She looks up to Evo fiercely, and her vote is assured for him. ‘It doesn’t matter if he steals money from the government, at least it is a poor one who is getting rich, not like before, when the rich were getting richer’ are her exact words when asked her opinion on the huge amount of corruption in Evo’s government.

Today, she makes about 90 dollars, but a good market has gone up to 30 dollars. When asked about how she manages, her answer shows the denial syndrome: “This is happening because the rich are very greedy, they don’t want to pay more for rural fresh produce. It is OK to have better prices for producers” But how do you manage to buy your weekly market? I insist. “I have to back up brother Evo, there is a lot of work for us now and we have better salaries, so we don’t care about prices being high”, she says.

She would die and kill if Evo asks her. She is the best example of brainwashing techniques through marketing, drugs and bonuses. She doesn’t realize that even if there are more jobs for poor people, they are not decent ones. They have been created in non productive areas, such as marching (yes, poor people get better salaries from Evo to march than for real work), coca leave growing (24 cocaine factories are found in Bolivia every day now, as opposed to three per month before Evo) and of course, as public servers in oversized payrolls that are being supported by taxpayers who have seen taxes rise 50% in the last four years.

This happens in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ecuador too. Venezuela, being the leading leftist country where Socialism for the XXI Century rules, is the first one to reap the acid fruit of having no energy to take a good shower, to have to pay three times more for the same vegetables, and even worse, the empty shelves in food stores. People in Venezuela have begun to shout “Hugo, stop giving away our money to Evo and others, and begin to give us a better life”. But their voices are not heard in traditional media. Hugo doesn’t let journalists inform freely.

Millions of Valentinas back up these totalitarian governments. When I said “The rich will not stop buying meat because it has gone up from 2 dollars a kilogram to 7. They can still afford it. But how can you afford meat now, if your salary remains the same during this government? She laughed and said: “By voting again for Evo. He will take away the money from the rich to give it to us. He just needs more time”.

I wonder if Venezuelan Valentinas are eager to vote for Chavez again. The bottom line to this denial syndrome is that poor people are getting poorer, as the new jobs are hopeless in terms of bringing lasting and enduring financial mattresses for every household. These presidents will do everything to be reelected. They promise heaven and its siblings. Cuban people , though, have been very loyal to the revolution and have gotten nothing out of it in half a century. The lies and the marketing have not helped Cuban Valentinas fill in the pot, they eat meat once every two months, only if the government lets them.

Comments 2

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  • Maria de Chirikof
    Nov 03, 2009
    Nov 03, 2009

    Wow, you seem to have very decided views about things and maybe they are not quite the way they seem to you. Maybe it is not the man himself (Evo Morales) but what he is trying to do that he has such supporters like the Valentina you described.

    If you take an objective look at what has happened to the indigenous peoples (including the North American ones) you will see a long history of enslavement and theft of land, resources and culture by others. Where you were once a part of a free community (not 100% perfect but free) and then find yourself basically a paid slave at best or put into a tiny box and forced to live in a caged world like an animal at worst. In correcting this injustice things have to change from exploitation to a more equal and just system.

    I imagine Valentina looks to the day when her children have a future other then becoming a maid. Like in America where we need to pull together and work hard and manage with less as we recover from the excesses of yesterday (uncontrolled, selfish and mindless consumption), it will be hard but we are working toward a goal together. The days are gone forever when a few can pretend to themselves and others that they are somehow more worthy of things then others. In America we can see huge amounts of wasted resources that must change and is being changed. It is not the government demanding it but the people (the "we the people..." people I mean) demanding we all do our little bit to help. I think if you try to view it in that light it wont seem like "brainwashing" but "intelligence".

    In your example of a 3 minute shower, water is a precious resource and a look around the forums here will show woman from many lands talking about water concerns. Is it not better to limit yourself to a 3-minute shower to conserve the water so there is enough for everyone and everything that needs it? It is not a matter of "being poor" but being smart in how we should use our resources.

    Again, in America there is a huge push to think about what you use daily and how you use it and to begin realizing how it effects others not only in your neighborhood but around the whole world. While this idea is a common part of the whole in Indigenous cultures it is something new to others and can seem a bit scary at first. Just think of it as common sense mixed with a global awareness and it will be shown to be a good thing and something to embrace in your own life.


  • Maria de Chirikof
    Nov 03, 2009
    Nov 03, 2009