Yesterday, in the middle of the scandal caused by the antidemocratic apprehension of Leopoldo Lopez by the totalitarian government of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, the social networks (That are one of the few free and not censured media in the country) were shocked by the news that Génesis Carmona had suffered from a shot in the head by forces allied to the government after protesting in the city of Valencia as part of the nation-wide wave of rallies against the government of Maduro. Génesis, with a bullet inside her head, was taken to the hospital where she unfortunately died this morning. The young woman wasn’t famous and much less a celebrity. But the simple fact that she was Miss Tourism Carabobo 2013 drew the attention of a whole nation.
Venezuela is universally known for two reasons: Its beautiful beauty queens and its soap operas. Being a beauty queen in that tropical South American nation is the equivalent of being one Hollywood’s celebrity in the U.S.A. It’s a country where every year families sit together in their homes to watch the Miss Venezuela Pageant on the television in order to escape their problems. It’s a country where a beauty pageant is not antifeminist but an entrance to an artistic world. It’s country that is proud of having the most beauty titles in the whole world. It’s the country of beautiful women.
The beauty obsession in Venezuela, as an autochthonous native tradition, is seen with certain negativity abroad while inside that nation it doesn’t goes beyond a simple cultural tradition. The typical Venezuelan, drowned in anxieties and problems, sees the impossible every night on their television. He or she sees the housemaid marrying her bourgeois boss in the soap opera. He or she sees a meek girl become a dazzling woman representing the country internationally in the Miss Universe. He or She sees the naïve “Miss” become one of the mot important actresses in national television and even join international one (Let’s take as an example Alicia Machado, Miss Universe 1995, who appeared in the American sitcom The Nanny and in many Hispanic soap operas). In some extraordinary cases, the “Miss” goes beyond showbiz: Irene Sáez, Miss Universe 1981, wasn’t only mayor of the successful municipality of Chacao (The wealthiest one in Caracas) and governor of the state of Nueva Esparta but also a candidate to the presidency in 1998 and named the 83rd most powerful woman by The Times of London.
The Venezuelans see their dreams and desires in the beauty queens; they see a wonderful escape from their day-to-day problems. The Miss Venezuelas are epitomes and personifications of the Venezuelan people. They are their dreams and desires turned into women. They are a representation of Venezuela’s two prides: Beauty pageants and soap operas where the beauty queens commonly act in. But the fact that a “Miss” of a minor rank was shot today in such a brutal way only brought me recent memories: Mónica Spear.
In early January of this year, the actress of soap operas and the fourth finalist of Miss Venezuela 2005, Mónica Spear was with her husband and daughter on a vacation in Venezuela because she lived in Miami. The family was on a bleak highway in the Western part of the country (In the same state where Génesis was shot) during the night when the car had a minor accident. The family waited for assistance when a group of criminals, all minors of age, tried to mug them. The Berry-Spear family locked themselves in the car, fearing for their lives, and were shot by the criminals. Mónica and her husband died instantly and their little five years old daughter was injured. Thinking of that poor little girl writhes my soul: The desperation, the terror, the blood, the screaming and then the silence. There couldn’t be anything harder for a child than witnessing the death of her parents in such a macabre way. After the murder; the country was shocked in a way it hadn’t been in a long time. It was and it still is adapted to death (25,000 violent deaths the year before). But this time was different. A beloved actress and beauty queen had been killed in such a brutal way.
In that scandal-grief, many recurred to a simple but true quote: Life imitates art. Mónica had died many times in the soap operas in different ways. Now, the death Génesis leaves me thinking. The Universe is no more than a symbolist piece of artwork. Mónica’s death reflects a reality: The personification of the Venezuelan culture, Miss and soap opera actress, and hence Venezuela in its entirety being killed in a shooting. Now, Génesis reveals us another symbolist image. The very same personification and allegory being shot by the forces of the government. A government, the one of Nicolás Maduro, which shoots against Venezuela; killing her. A government that shoots against their helpless citizens. And like Simón Bolívar said, damned the solider that shoots against his people.
Rest in Peace, Génesis Carmona.