Eulogia’s Struggle

Guarenas Barrio

Each house, its own story.

Over in Centro Gumilla’s SIC, Sebastián de la Nuez is on a tear in this long-form piece on the day-to-day life of one barrio family, where Eulogia, on her own, struggles to bring up a troop of children and abandoned grandchildren, 14 strong.

The entire piece is powerful, but one bit stood out for me because I just had never heard of it:

En un primer encuentro con SIC contó que no había podido pagar los cinco mil bolívares por la boleta de uno de los niños. Se había quedado limpia. La llamaron del colegio para saber qué había pasado. Le dijeron que la Lopna podía tomar cartas en el asunto, y ella se molestó. Se molestó por el apuro, por la amenaza, por tener que esperar al día de plancha para contar con cinco mil bolívares que cuesta la boleta. Había pagado cuatro y sólo le faltaba la de Jesús, tampoco era para tanto. “En el colegio saben mi situación”.

Now report-cards come with a price tag?! This one was new to me.

54 thoughts on “Eulogia’s Struggle

  1. So the gov helps with the medicine that’s good, but honestly what is going on with charging for a boleta? Some chanchullo from the principals of the school, must be.

    What a woman, God bless her strength and give her health. She is going directly to heaven, unlike the anticristo the grandkid sees in dreams (mira como sabe the little piojo). About the other kid without boleta: “A Jesús, por cierto, le encantan los animales. Los protege como no ha podido proteger a algunos miembros de su familia. Lo han visto agarrando por el cogote a un gato para que suelte a una rata. No acepta que un animal mate a otro. Un día que fue a un botadero de basura y vio zamuros por primera vez, quedó fascinado. Le dio mucho gusto, dijo, conocerlos “personalmente”. :( warms and breaks my heart at the same time.

    I wish somebody do something to prevent irresponsible paternity. Caramba!

    • A vasectomy/whateveryoucalltheonewomengetinEnglish for a monthly harina pan for a year. If you think this sounds expensive (or maybe, hopefully it sounds too cheap) then consider what each carajito is going to cost the state.

      • tube ligation I believe.

        IMO I would push for the Vasectomy for irresponsible fathers as well, It would be a “punishment” for them as their perceived virility gets diminished…

        I read through the end of the post and yes, this progresive break down of social thread, specially fo pporer segments of the society, but also tru in general, has had deep political implications. Venezuela has passed form the marginalizacion of the 70 and 80’s , to the africanizacion (think Nigeria/corruption) undergoing now, to the soon to see somalia-type break down it will become.

    • It is anti-climatic; everyone knew this was coming. But the part of Chavez losing his voice forever is frickin priceless. I still have a smile even if it turns out not to be true.

  2. And to compound on the gross inequality behind the charge-for-your-grades racket, 5000 Bs is 5000% higher than a semester at UCV (where you pay 1Bs. for your student card and registering fees).

  3. Bien putica la hija de elogia; tiene apenas 30 años y ya tiene 4 hijos de padres diferentes. Pa ñapa anda en “diligencias” pa otro bebe. Fast forward 15 años y alguno de estos carajitos nos va a sentenciar en alguna esquina de Caracas.

      • Please elaborate. A person who already has 4 kids and doesn’t take care of ANY of them should NOT be trying for a 5th kid as if it were just like buying a hamster.

        • there is a difference between supporting birth control and sex education iniciatives and calling someone “putica”. And your histerical lament of “carajitos” that are just going to grow up to kill ‘us’ shows your stupidity about social issues. those “carajitos” run a much higher risk of dying through violence than you ever will. it only becomes a problem when you feel threatened not when the poor have lived with the problem for the last 40 years. Your attitude is exactly what has allowed Chavistas to demonize the “IV Republica” . it is exactly why the poor in vene support the incompetent idiots leading the country now.

          • Yes, they face a higher risk of EVERYTHING than I ever will. And yes, perhaps being a putica ain’t putica’s fault. Her parents were not around when she was a teenager, maybe she thought that by getting pregnant she could make her “man” stick around. Understood. But where do you draw the line? Shouldn’t putica be held accountable AT ALL? One thing is to be wrong 1 time, but another thing is to be wrong 5 times. Following this line of thought no one would ever be responsible for ANYTHING ever.

            And by the way, I am by no means a 4to republicano, none of my grandparents knew how to read…however, they did not go around fucking anything with a hole and a heartbeat.

            • its not about fault you moron.its a social issue. i don’t really think its your fault you are a douchebag. i think that you need to understand that having your ridiculous moralist attitudes does nothing to resolve the problem.it just lowers the conversation to an “us” and “them” polemic where it becomes easy to blame issues on others.

              • At least I am honest about my beliefs, but people like you, and probably most other people who read this blog portray themselves as compassionate and understanding BUT:

                1) you probably live abroad, and if you don’t you are desperately seeking to migrate so you are not victim to one of putica’s offspring.
                2) Even if you live in Venezuela, you would never associate yourself with someone from the barrios.

                Long story short, I like to think of people as adults not kids who don’t know better.

            • “And by the way, I am by no means a 4to republicano, none of my grandparents knew how to read…”

              That’s an interesting non-sequitur

          • Right Fred… you can teach people to be responsible as we have by our parents… and against all odds many of those kids who grow in very poor homes with N siblings grow and become successful.

        • A 5th children is very conservative. The mexicans same eco-levels have 10 (!) at least, and they get sad if they don’t make the double digits. You see the 30 something woman with the adult daughter(s) and the grand-kid(s). It’s cultural you know. As it’s cultural for the male to leave. It’s not about how putica she is, imagine, do you think she cares about her reputation when her mari-novio is a convict? Something that can be correct with heavy education. Period.

      • What is the deal with birth control in Venezuela? I understand she has a boyfriend, that’s natural. But usually when people decide they have enough kids they start using birth control…

        • The deal is lack of education,poverty,no medical care,cultural machismo that equates men’s ability to propagate as proof of virility, and a country that is over 90% Catholic that encourages the belief that birth control is a sin.

            • sorry, but maybe my spanish is not good enough to understand this. i’ve heard the saying before but never used in this context.

              • I mean to say that a Venezuelan girl will use birth control if you give her a financial incentive her no matter what Ratzinger says or how hairy her macho yet broke boyfriend is.

          • Reproduction is negatively associated with income everywhere to some level everywhere, sure, but not so much… I suppose that is what you get with Venezuela’s bizarre toxic mix of populism and catholic phobia against birth control.

            • To be honest Norske I don’t think this is a Venezuelan thingy. South Asia, Latin America and Africa share the trend. These women don’t take birth control pills and men don’t use condoms for many reasons but not because of religion. Maybe it’s different in the Muslim world, but here is more that it links the kid with the dad. Like they need to have the baby right away for the man to stay, and be part of the family. And for the man, it’s like I don’t know, no real sex, who knows.

              • Citifeathers: I think you’re “I don’t know .. who knows” may be accurate. Rather than you’re attempt to tell us that (a paternalistic) religion, which aims for mindshare, beyond the confines of Church, does not affect how people think about birth control.

                Paternalistic religions, which don’t stress full, equal and quality education for both genders, at all socio-economic levels, have a huge influence on birth control, where women are viewed as not much more than baby-generators (= bigger congregations, more power, often more money for the organization).

                Too many examples abound to be playing dumb and innocent with this issue, particularly if one is a woman, or if one does not have an investment in paternalistic mindshare.

                Here’s something that might help — ojo! Catholicism is not the only religion that treats women principally as generating vessels. And yes, there are levels in each religion. But let’s face it, at the middle to lowest common denominator, women in these religions get the short end of the stick. And I mean that figuratively.

                http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2012/04/15/melinda-gates-fights-to-put-birth-control-on-the-global-agenda-and-save-childrens-lives/

              • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birth_control

                Birth control, also known as contraception and fertility control, refers to … and many cultures limit access to birth control due to the moral and political issues involved. ….

                See: “The Vatican’s Opposition to Artificial Contraception”

                http://www.globalization101.org/the-battle-over-birth-control-for-developing-nations/.

                As I said, the Vatican is not alone among religions in its condemnation of contols over female reproduction. Surely this is not news for you.

              • At the risk of offending……..But I’ve heard it said by many Venezuelan men: “Eso es como comer caramelo sin quitar el envoltorio”

              • The Catholic church in Venezuela, last I was aware, promotes the rhythm method which I understand, ranks somewhere near abstinence on the scale of useful family planning advice. It does not perplex me why men get women pregnant- there are no social consequences to it. It does perplex me why when men get women pregnant outside of marriage it raises their social status and for the women, theirs is lowered, but this seems to be the way of underdeveloped countries, regardless of social class or culture. I guess it suggests that men are the ones who determine the governing morality in these societies.

                It is not a coincidence that, being governed entirely by men, the Catholic church does not generally dispense of good family planning advice, or has made inroads into combatting the social ostracism of women who have babies without fathers. Which is again curious, because it was founded on this exact event.

              • Canucklehead,
                Even in so-called developed countries, unmarried and pregnant teens are still ostracized (though a little less so than before), while males are not. The issue of female shame is shared among most, if not all religions, the roots lying in a curious combination of myth, anthropology and biology. Or so I think. For it wouldn’t do for the male to go mopin’ around in shame if ‘his woman’ were to gallivant about, he not knowing his time slot. No, this would not do at all. Ve must haf order. How to do eliminate fear and ridicule? Why simple! Create stories and myths that elevate one gender and turn the object of one’s fear into subservience.

                Based on ancient myths, then, along comes the Church (other religions to follow) and says, “hmmmm, how do I get a piece of this pie?”. Meaning, how do I build an organization, where people pay a certain amount to keep me and my fellows in power over the population? Why, I can use the existing mythologies but develop an improved version, like a new detergent on the market, to pull in the believers and to construct my power base!

                In the beginning …

                I don’t know if I’ve answered some of the persistent life’s questions that you pose. In the meantime, allow me to disclose that I don’t condemn religion, per se, seeing it as a necessary force in society. But I’m not blinded by the behind-the-scenes (el manipuleo). And I’m free to put my allegiances where I want to, if I want to, without having to deal with cradle-to-grave brainwashing.

              • Syd, I think we mostly agree but here’s a true story. A priest in Venezuela recently told a close relation of mine that if she wore a certain blouse to mass she would be denied communion next time. True story. (The blouse was something you and I would recognize at a north american business meeting in the summer, but that is beside the point.) Now, this is not Caracas I’m talking about, but I can tell you and I think you would agree, if a priest made that sort of comment in urban North America, he’d be branded a letch and the woman would have an official complaint. It would be catastrophic! In the situation I just mentioned the consensus is more like: well, the priest has brought good things to the church like air conditioning and security for the parking lot, and men obviously can’t control themselves- even priests- so what’s the big deal.

                It’s just different.

              • Canuck,
                Regarding the priest’s comment to your relative, I’d ask in what tone it was said. For as you know, tone can make a difference, especially in Vzla, where so little is taken seriously by a vast majority who prefer their life lived light. If the priest chided his sheep congregant in an amusing way, joking that he would not be able to administer a sacrament if she wore the blouse, then I as the sheep congregant wouldn’t pay it much mind. In Venezuela. (Context is everything.) Otherwise, well, I’d have to fall back on my status as a sheep, put up and shut up. Fortunately, I am not, nor have I been educated to be a sheep. Age also helps. The combination does not allow me to suffer gladly priests or anyone else pulling an unecessary power trip. And hoo-boy! Does the fur ever fly when I counter folks who go off on ego trips, at the expense of others. It even happens in Canada. Btw, power tripping is not exclusive to males.

              • “Citifeathers: I think you’re “I don’t know .. who knows” may be accurate. Rather than you’re attempt to tell us that (a paternalistic) religion, which aims for mindshare, beyond the confines of Church, does not affect how people think about birth control.”

                You say this woman cares about what the church says about anything. I say she doesn’t. The reason is cultural, but it’s not directly derivated by a religious motivation because this people are utterly devoted and thinking they are going to hell because of birth control. That’s what I meant in case I didn’t make my self clear. Obviously religion is part of the cultural factor, but it’s not the direct reason. I am sure you have dealt with people like her and understand why. But yes, the pay attention to the authority of the doctor and the priest, and now thanks to the infiltration of Cubans more and more to the brujo. The doctor basically can be God and can help with a good educational program big time, the priest is not gonna do it but the way they have been doing it forever that is billings methods who can work but requires some work that to be honest I don’t think these type of women CARE about not to have children, you know. They need the extra help around the house. Bring a chair for the long waiting if you are expecting a substantial change on this subject from the part of any religion, Syd.

              • Bring a chair for the long waiting if you are expecting a substantial change on this subject from the part of any religion, Syd.

                First, and no offense, but I find your prose somewhat incoherent; it’s hard to make much sense of the whole. As for my expecting a substantial change on the subject of birth control from the part of any religion … I never stated anything that would lead one to assume that expectation from my part. Yours is a skewed interpretation of what I was trying to say (as well as what has been more eloquently stated by Melinda Gates), your denials to the contrary. (Meaning, that some religions have been directly responsible for NOT wanting to educate women and men to think about birth control. And there is a reason for this that you seem to want to avoid.) Evidently, religion does play a part in Eulogia’s world; there are little symbols of such throughout the writing. It also appears, based on the uniforms Eulogia obtained from a parroquia for her children’s education (otro gasto), that these children are not going to escuelas laïcas. So yes, the LOPNA is blamed. What other organization is responsible? That isn’t clear, for the piece shows up in a magazine produced by el Centro Gumilla. Hello!

                So let’s just leave things as is. When some issues cause denial and confusion, there’s no point in further discussion.

            • Okay Syd, you win, the Catholics are responsible and Eulogia and her daugther(s) are very worried they are going to hell if they start using contraceptives. I can see you didn’t read or wanted to understand what I say about our Latin American culture (who obviously has been shaped by Catholic though) and their motivations in addition to this topic. But to recap, these people don’t want contraceptives because they don’t want to, they need to have children, they don’t see the point not having them. Simply as that, regardless of what Benedict XVI sez about this matter. Remember the Cath church is also very much against sex before marriage or wedlock and infinite other topics common practice in the barrio but for some reason they don’t pay attention to the church on those topics, but children yeaaahh it’s Benedict’s fault. Agree with no further discussion.

              • It’s not a question of win-lose, Feathers. It’s a question of historical perspective, if not common sense. You should be relaying your “‘these’-people-don’t-want-contraceptives-because-they-need-to-have-children” opinion to Melinda Gates, a clear-thinking, well educated Catholic female … con ovarios y chequera. She knows the score, and is not sold by defense mechanisms. Nor would she be impressed (as I’m not) by the school lunch for these carajitos: una arepa y un vaso de leche. Vaya nutrición! Vaya calidad de vida para el buen pensamiento y la fortaleza física! Vaya calidad de cultura para el futuro de nuestra Venezuela! But that doesn’t matter, because “these” people don’t care about that, right? “These” people say: bring on the carajitos — we need them, even though we can’t feed them. Even if “these” people were educated to plan for children (which would NEVER be allowed by the Church), they’d say: fuhgeddaboudit! Even if “these” people had affordable birth control, they’d say: Not interested! Por eso no son “gente” sinó “esa” gente. Pobre gente. Tanto en los cerros como en el valle (y ahora en el exterior).

              • I don’t know what you are talking about now. Melinda Gates who is a catholic agrees with me on pushing the issue of birth control to prevent irresponsible paternity, instead of blaming it to the church. Have you read what I post? She also knows that the Catholic church for more helpful they are they are not gonna change their views or change their ways in the subject. So she is pushing a birth control agenda by a medical, secular point of view, not reaching the Catholics for this. I am a Catholic and don’t have a chorrera de hijos, neigther Melinda, why? Because our families knew better, exactly you said it, education. Educated Catholic men also take care of themselves. And for that matter other educated Abrahamic religious people too and I others. So to this day and age still blaming the church like this is a single thing is a little too simplistic and not totally realistic. Like I said before in my post you choose to ignore, the people from the barrio listen to the priest, the doctor and the brujo, and ultimately do what they want/ need to do. The solution is multiple options and shared. Melinda knows that the Catholic are not gonna change their views, and so she is having a practical solution, rather than complain that’s Benedict’s fault-paternalistic religion and try to impose her chequera to the Bishops. Think about this too: if the church were giving contraception here and there they still will be having a chorrera de hijos. Same way they don’t get married or have sex out of wedlock. What’s your point with the church? Seems to me you want the church to change on this issue, and Melinda and I knows that it’s not gonna happen. Have to be practical in this issue. If I have to pick a single one to blame is the government (and past governments) for not having a program about this, but today more than ever.

  4. Has anyone read Alejandro Morenos work on the Marginal Family or Manuel Barroso’s 1998 book on the Autoestima del Venezolano ‘.??. These authors paint a picture of the life and mind of Marginal Venezuelans which pretty much coincides with the kind of family situation which is here described as that of Eulogias daughter and her brood . The problems of structural poverty are tied to an ingrained life style , to a sick Machista culture that fosters the abandonment of mate and brood by very irresponsable males , and the virtual abandonment or neglect of children by their mothers who are more interested on getting a new male mate to ‘represent’ them than prepared to take the daunting and demanding role of the single mother of several children in a poverty stricken milieu. Poverty has always existed in Venezuela but the social fabric that held together the life of the poor was stronger 20 to 30 years than what it has become now , The break down of family life among the poor has been a deepening process in the last 20 years and the consequences go beyond the area of crime into the area of what the maimed children of this marginal culture come to want and believe in the area of politics . The role of this deepening impoverishment of peoples mind and life in the rise of Chavez aberrant style of politics cannot be underated. . Paraphrasing the words of Talleyrand on being told of Napoleons decision to have the Duc D’ Enghien shot ., the situation of marginals in Venezuela is ‘worse than a crime its a supreme blunder’ and until we find a way of dealing with this blunder of our historical development nothing fundamental can be done to transform Venezuela into the Country we all dream of. .

  5. Im not sure that the catholicism of Venezuelans is as deep or as committed as that ot the Irish or the Poles or other catholic countries , not enough anyway to let it get in the way of peoples disorderly sex lives and taste for prosmicuity , Most people see the Catholic church like a kind of revered grandmother , all love her but not everybody pays her sermonizing much attention , granny is a lovable lady but she is a bit ‘chocha’ and ‘out of it’ . this is the reason why there is so little anticlericalism in L.America ,(like you have in spain) , how can you hate granny even if shes off her rocker from time to time ?? The machismo of Latin America is a more complex cultural phenomena , and cannot be explained simply in terms of a struggle between the sexes, In Venezuela women can be as machistas as men . Not enough space here but thinking more seriously about the subject deserves the effort!! .

    • Agree that Vzlan catholicism is not as hard-line as it has been/is for the Irish, Poles, Quebeckers, and Peruvians, regions of the world where the screws were really tightened on women (keep ‘em dumb and procreating).
      And while Vzlan catholicism has become more open than it used to be, it wasn’t always that way, especially pre-1970s. I like your analogy of the revered granny.

    • You r very right about it Bill Bass, mother-asking-the-daughters-to-do-the-dishes-and-not-asking-the-sons type of things, was very common back in the day. I am sure still is in some sectors of the society.

  6. Syd: I’m pretty sure that Eulogias daughter religious scruples on the issue of birth control are non existent. as well as her scruples on out of wed lock sex , serial prosmicuity and other like practices. If she had any of the latter we would probably be better of as a society. I do wish she and her mate had more scruples about having children they will ultimately abandon or neglect, , thats the real sin and its not agains God but against their emotionally maimed children who dont deserve to be born to such parents.!!
    I hope I dont offend you if I give you my view that the real culpril is not Religion but the Cult of Manhood as practiced in much of L. America,, the way it fosters mens irresponsability towards their women and brood , and the womans machismo in attempting to tie down a man by giving him a child which she cannot take care of.. Its eery how the main iconic character of Venezuelan literature , Dona Barbara although biologically a woman is a true Macho, unscrupulous , bold, rapacious , barbaric, strong, sexually voracious and free of any qualms over abandoning her only daughter Marisela . . ,

    • Bill: One (not the main) iconic character of Venezuelan literature, Doña Bárbara, should never be used to paint an entire country’s gender. As for your need to blame a woman’s machismo (and I’m not disputing that many – note, not all – women are strong) for “attempting to tie down a man” by giving him a child which she cannot take care of? While that’s one way to look at one aspect of the yin-yan of a relationship, the optics wouldn’t account for the male’s advances on the female, which is the norm, rather than the other way around. How do you account for rape? Or is the woman’s “machismo” responsible for that, as well?

      I’m not arguing about religious scruples having an influence on Eulogia’s daughter’s behaviour. I’m arguing that the LACK OF AN OVERALL QUALITY EDUCATION (i.e. options in life), the LACK OF EDUCATION ON BIRTH CONTROL, the CONDEMNATION ON BIRTH CONTROL, and the LACK OF ACCESSIBLE, AFFORDABLE BIRTH CONTROL, contributes to the behaviour of Eulogia’s daughter. Of course, the Centro Gumilla would NEVER touch on the issue of birth control as ONE factor. And in this, they’re irresponsible ostriches with their heads in the sand, no matter how much other good they do.

      • I agree with you. But rather than expect the Catholic church to change, is better to offer solutions for all the people who want to help, work together in the things that can be worked together. And the Government (not the Church) is the one who needs to make this happen as a policy. The catholic church or any other church that believes in God “go and multiply” won’t ever change, they say it’s a responsibility issue, have children but take care of them. The solution is a combination of different educational services.

      • Syd, another thing, and forgive me if I am getting too fastidiosita (I know I am!)… I don’t have anything against the pill but i wasn’t given an education when I was 14 of “take this mija…” you know what I mean? And I am sure you didn’t and Mrs. Gates neither. That obviously tells you that the solution is not only given by a case of pills.

      • Take it easy syd , dont misread what Im saying , Im mentioning Dona Barbara just as an example , a telling example of how our culture is so besotted with the worship of certain salient features of Manliness that even one of our main female literary character is presented as a Macho , Of course there are few Dona Barbaras among our women . When Im mentioning the machismo of women I mean something else , the way many of them rate getting their men over the care and needs of their children , how many of them leave their children locked in a rancho , the 5 year old taking care of the 6 month old, because there is this party where she is going to get her man , how these children are uncared for developing skin diseases and malnutrition and emotional scarrs , how so many of them are frivolous flighty young not very smart girls with undeveloped sense of reponsability .I have dozens of every day examples taken from real life from professionals who make taking medical care of small children a full time occupation . Machos arent born motherless they are born from mothers who teach them the virtues of Machismo in many subtle and not so subtle ways . I cant make my case in a few lines , but believe me , its real and deep and Im not sure that it will be enough to give them a few sex education classes to resolve the issue . I started by being closer to your view of things but the more first hand information I got on what was happening made me reflect that the problems was more serious !! no offense meant but just give your self time to think about the subject.

        • Also. psychologically, there have been studies that suggest that girls without the father figure tent to be more promiscuous to fill the void of the male figure in their lives. It also happens in the black communities in the USA were there is a big problem with fathers living the household.

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