For the past several days I've been hearing about La Otra Feria: La verdadera República Dominicana. This was a fair created in the response to the governments own little expo about the 10 years of vision of President Fernández and whose main goal, according to the literature, was to highlight the social and economic reality currently facing the country.
I was asked by friends and fellow bloggers to support the cause in both presence and through this blog. Between newspaper articles, the fair's blog and word of mouth I decided that the cause was good and as such I would give it my full support.
My whole life I have been somewhat of a revolutionary. Perhaps this is genetic because I come from a long line of civil servants, but I have always had a social conscience and have been an activist for change. Now it isn't much different except that I have learned that the game of politics is a dirty game and that any change that I may want to cause I know that I have to do it on the sidelines by exercising my right to civil disobedience.
I spoke to my family about today's fair and told them that I felt that this was the right thing to do. Very eloquently (because if there is a gift I have it is the ability to bullshit) I explained to them that my activities were peaceful and socially oriented. Naturally, they believed me because like me they thought they knew the facts.
This morning H. Galvan, one of the organizers, got arrested. The government didn't want the fair to take place and seemed willing to go to any lengths necessary to stop it. Thanks to a number of people he was released by late morning and the activity was allowed to take place.
While this was happening I was going crazy. For weeks I have been all kinds of bent out of shape about the fact that our Constitutional rights are being stripped away from us for no reason; now this guy, someone I had never even heard of before, gets arrested for putting together a fair. Every ounce of passion and sympathy I had for the cause got multiplied by a million and I made it my mission for today to be there even if it was in protest. Even if I got arrested.
So I went. Despite the freezing summer rain, Eny and I got in her car and head on over to the park where we found a bunch of people who were meant to be working the fair along with a similar number of police. Eny and I walked on over and they welcomed us immediately. It was a dynamic crowd who was obviously still shaken up from the morning's events but their resolve was stronger than it might have been in earlier hours. I felt their pain.
Like the good photojournalist she is, Eny immediately started taking pictures of everything while I did what I do best: socialize. I made myself useful by giving little pep talks about resolve, I told some of the people who came by to see what the commotion was about what the goal of the fair had been to the best of my ability, I made signs, took pictures and even fed all the people who were there all day. I fed people with food I got from Narciso Isa Conde's house.
I didn't know who Narciso Isa Conde was when I walked into his house. One of the guys who was working the fair asked me to go with him to get some supplies. I didn't see any harm in it. I mean, it's not every day you get invited to just walk into the home of someone who was (or maybe still is) the head of the Dominican leftist movement so it never ocurred to me that "Narciso" could have possibly been Narciso Isa Conde. When I found out I was already in there and even then, even though the name sounded familar, I still didn't know who he was. Fine. We get the food and supplies and we leave.
After we fed everyone, we took a bunch of pictures for the press. For whatever reason, I kept on being asked to be in these pictures so I agreed because like I said before, I believed in the cause and I am not going to do anything half assed. They wanted me in the damn pictures, I was in them. I was there. I was helping.
Shortly thereafter, Galvan (aka martyr boy) started talking about how tonight there would be a vigil and that the alcohol laws would not be observed during the protest.
I stated in front of the group that peaceful protest does not involve breaking the law and whether we like it or not there is a law that prohibits drinking after 2:00am. Some people echoed my sentiment but he wouldn't hear any of it. Eny and I spoke to a couple of the other organizers and explained to them our point of view which included but wasn't limited to how Galvan was quickly becoming their weakest link, one kept on like she knew what she was doing (which she really didn't) and the other agreed and talked to him about it. Either way, it was getting weird.
But we stayed. The press conference was at 5:00pm and I figured that they needed the support plus Eny wanted to take more pictures. For whatever odd reason I ended up by the table with the organizers. I didn't mind that. I felt bad that I didn't know the national anthem when it came time to sing it but other than that I saw no harm in it.
That was until they start singing the anthem of the revolution. That was sketchy. Then as they were reading their manifesto I hear the words Juan Bosch and "Viva La Revolucion".
Yeah, that was our cue to leave.
Unknowingly, we had been partaking in what seemed like a Communist rally.
What I thought was a protest for the violation of our civil liberties and for the governmental prohibition of holding the fair, was nothing more than a political statement with leftist tendencies.
I let my picture be taken to make one statement, to protest the stripping away of our freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and now it is very likely that I will end up as poster child for Communism when I never intended to be. Hell! It's been 4 hours, and I was already on the news!
Although I have expressed that I understand the rationale behind Communism, I sure as hell don't support it!
I feel like I was lied to and I am extremely upset that they lied to the country. They wanted to bring in people to support one thing and then at the end it turned out that it was something else.
I was given a brownie and then after I ate it, turned out it was a space cake.