Em­bar­rass­ment as the com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor

The Taos News - - VECINOS - Ana Klenicki The Span­ish ver­sion of this col­umn is on Page C4.

The year 2018 will go into his­tory as a tough year, a hor­ri­ble year. How­ever, we still have the month of De­cem­ber left, one more month to be fur­ther buf­feted by new catas­tro­phes. After all, 31 days con­sti­tute a chunk of time.

I have to con­fess that I am not talk­ing in the ab­stract, about em­bar­rass­ing things one hears about. I am talk­ing about be­ing em­bar­rassed by events that are hap­pen­ing in mul­ti­ple places and that touch one per­son­ally.

I had an­nounced that I would not write any­more, but I just can­not hold my­self back. I can­not keep silent. (Si­lence is ac­qui­es­cence, isn’t it?)

I will share with you what it is that em­bar­rasses me and the pain that goes with it. I hate to sub­ject you to the ills of the mo­ment, but these are aw­ful mo­ments. I am not sure that shar­ing them with you make them less painful, but some­how talk­ing about them is quite lib­er­at­ing.

My first em­bar­rass­ment is about the coun­try where I was born. What hap­pened in Buenos Aires, Ar­gentina in mid-Novem­ber is so pa­thetic, so hu­mil­i­at­ing, so em­bar­rass­ing.

Ar­gentina, like Brazil, is soc­cer crazy. A fa­mous tour­na­ment (Copa Lib­er­ta­dores) was com­ing to an end, pit­ting two teams that have large fol­low­ings: Boca Ju­niors and River Plate.

This was unique in that the tour­na­ment was played by two teams from the same coun­try, and it was be­ing played in Ar­gentina where the two teams re­side. Sun­days are tra­di­tion­ally soc­cer days, just as here we have Mon­day foot­ball, but this match was sched­uled for a Satur­day af­ter­noon. The ex­pec­ta­tions for the match were great and the soc­cer world was wait­ing for what had been billed as the game of all games.

So, the world waits for the game to start, it waits and, waits. The River sta­dium was packed to the gills. Fi­nally, the world’s au­di­ence, to­gether with the fans in the sta­dium, learn that the match is sus­pended be­cause the bus bring­ing Boca’s team has been at­tacked by River fans. The bus was pel­leted with rocks and other ob­jects. The po­lice pretty much did noth­ing ex­cept throw tear gas that, among other things, in­jured the bus driver.

I am watch­ing in Taos, and the em­bar­rass­ment and shame are in­creas­ing as time passes on. The match was post­poned to the next day, a Sun­day. The Sun­day comes and still no match. In the mean­time, I learn that there has been some loot­ing at­tached to Satur­day’s events. My sense of em­bar­rass­ment grows ex­po­nen­tially.

Al­though Ar­gentina has never been a truly de­vel­oped na­tion, nei­ther was it one of hooli­gan­ism. Ar­gentina’s po­si­tion in his­tory has gen­er­ally been as a to­tal­i­tar­ian, mil­i­taris­tic, nazi, fas­cist so­ci­ety, but soc­cer was pretty un­touch­able. This is also a coun­try that a cou­ple of weeks later was to host a G20 meet­ing, where world lead­ers will feast on ban­quets while mil­lions of chil­dren in Ye­men are dy­ing be­cause of a war sup­ported by Saudi Ara­bia (present in the G20 meet­ing).

My sec­ond em­bar­rass­ment, how­ever, is caused by where I chose to live. The Amer­ica of lim­it­less op­por­tu­nity, the Amer­ica of pro­tec­tive laws, Amer­ica the beau­ti­ful. My sec­ond em­bar­rass­ment is al­most harder to take since I chose to be­come Amer­i­can. We live in a mo­ment when we are gov­erned by Twit­ter, when the prized in­de­pen­dence of the three branches of gov­ern­ment is se­ri­ously jeop­ar­dized, a mo­ment when the rest of the world does not take us se­ri­ously. Ar­gentina and the United States ap­pear to share many char­ac­ter­is­tics of not even the Third World, but the fifth one and that, friends, hurts.

I know, most peo­ple tell me to get over it, that things will change (maybe for the bet­ter?), but un­til then, the pain and the em­bar­rass­ment are too great. I hope that if I write at the end of 2019, it will all be bet­ter. Maybe there are forces in the cos­mos that will take pity on us, both the de­vel­op­ing and de­vel­oped worlds.


The River sta­dium was packed to the gills. Fi­nally the world’s au­di­ence, to­gether with the fans in the sta­dium, learn that the match is sus­pended be­cause the bus bring­ing Boca’s team has been at­tacked by River fans.

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