Conversation with Sol Terán
Black Chronicles are a series of interviews conducted to different anarchists currently living in Venezuela, narrating all the struggles that they face living in one of the few socialist regimes of the 21st century. These interviews deal with the everyday lives of men and women and highlight the precarious situations to which they have been subjected.
In this edition we interview Sol Terán, our libertarian colleague who belongs to the group of Vene-zuelans that have had to immigrate to other countries. She is the editor of feminist magazine Döder-line and member of the band BETOE.
To start this conversation can you tell me a little more about your magazine Döderline and where this name comes from?
The Döderlein Zine is an anarchist magazine elaborated manually that deals with several issues like feminism, sexual liberation, politics and punk. We gave the magazine this name because the bacillus bacteria in charge of protecting the vagina from infections and diseases is named after it. It is some-what of a tribute towards these microorganisms hat support us in the protection against external agents that want to hurt us jejeje
How did you manage to run the magazine in Venezuela with the high cost of printing and pa-per shortage?
During the days when the first number was released we didn’t really notice the paper shortage, alt-hough copies were very expensive. What we did was only print when somebody solicited the maga-zine, along with always asking for collaborations in order to get photocopies.
Venezuela is renowned for its beautiful women. Do you think that this fact is stereotyped ac-cording to those interested in managing capital?
Of course! Publicity is completely exploited, in Venezuela girls grow up dreaming of becoming Miss Venezuela and Miss Universe. From a young age they are educated into a certain lifestyle, specific ways of eating, how to dress and act. The only beneficiary of this upbringing is capitalism.
Is there any way of being an anarchist and feminist whilst maintaining the gentleness and sweetness of women?
I think that ideals don’t define your character and gentleness and sweetness aren’t conditioned by gender.
The presence of women inside initiatives and libertarian activities in Venezuela is scarce…What causes this “masculine” majority in Venezuelan anarchism?
I think that libertarian ideals are stereotyped, I have known many libertarian and anarchist women in Venezuela that embrace a self-sufficient lifestyle off the grid, working with the community and do-ing things for themselves without the necessity of using any labels. On a conceptual level they don’t know that this lifestyle entails a label, for instance in the case of women that live in the countryside and indigenous women.
How was it living in a country where you must queue for hours to obtain menstrual pads or where obtaining contraceptive pills is a nightmare?
It was sad to see how conditioned Venezuelan women are thanks to the oil income, which has given the country industrialized products without providing the opportunity for any choice and in a certain way this is a favourable advantage. Through publicity capitalism creates the illusion of the necessity of a certain product and when this product is scarce, people start looking for other options. Menstru-al pads, tampons and contraceptive pills are not a good choice, there are thousands of natural alter-natives that are less harmful for organisms and the planet. In fact, one of the reasons I wanted to start this magazine was to spread these natural resources for everyone.
In Venezuela maternity is seen as an obligation and not a choice…What are your thoughts on this? Are you in favour of abortion?
This happens due to the values indoctrinated into girls when they are little, as they are taught that their only goal in life, growing up, is having children and spending the rest of their lives being mothers and looking after the house and taking care of the family. This is like a form of control caused by our overwhelmingly sexist culture. In Venezuela there are still many families that think this way and don’t propose female empowerment. I am in favour of abortion because I think that as owners of our bodies we have the right and freedom to do whatever we want, and I also think that sex should stop being a taboo in the sexual education of children.
In Venezuela no crime statistics exist, do you think that this is due to the complicity of the State?
Silence is complicity. Venezuela has a criminal government, it doesn’t take any measures against the basic necessities of people, like human rights, in a criminal state. In Venezuela the majority of crimes receive impunity because the government allows criminal gangs to acquire power by giving them weapons and protection.
In Venezuela the number of crimes committed against women has increased…are we the new city of Juárez in South America?
No, crimes against women haven’t necessarily increased, it’s just that now women have decided to report more because they now know that it’s a crime that is wrong. Abuse towards women has al-ways existed, but there was always a lot of silence due to fear of retaliation.
You are from the Andes (Andina) but you have also lived in Puerto Ordaz and Caracas. How was it living in those places?
Caracas being the capital was full of people, lots of chaos in the street, lots of traffic, it was really hard for me to adapt to that city and I was very stressed. Afterwards I lived in Maturín, an eastern city of the country that was very hot, boring and quite sexist. Going out in the streets entailed listen-ing to a variety of barbarities. Finally, I returned to San Cristóbal, which I think is the only city of Venezuela where you can live calmly, people are very shy and respectful, even though this has also changed throughout these last years.
Why did you emigrate? What pushes Venezuelan anarchists to leave their country and go to other places?
To learn new ways of living and doing things for my personal growth. In the tour that we did with our band B.E.T.O.E last winter we had the chance of sharing our experiences with many anarchists from many different places that did incredible things. This opened our eyes a little more in regards to different ways of living and doing things.
What recommendations and suggestions can you give to those who decide to stay?
Fighting for what you believe in is always comforting, it gives us all motive to keep moving for-ward.
To end…would you like to say something to your followers?
A big hug to everyone that fights every day to make this world a more just and egalitarian place! If you want copies of döderlein zine send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you copies. Thank you for the support and long live anarchism!
Translated by Pietro Casati (email@example.com)