In 2020, Valtirians will commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Haronos Plan, a desperate measure triggered by the Venezuelan crisis that changed our nation in ways that to this day, we still struggle to fully comprehend.
Today we like to praise Haronos as a historic deed. We regard its participants as visionary pioneers, and those who stayed behind in the Valtir as the heroes of the homeland, worthy heirs of the Twenty of Saint Enric. A large part of these mythos have been (and still are) shamelessly disseminated by the state, but in my opinion, they resonate well with our national consciousness because we want to believe them.
Indeed, reading Haronos in the terms of an epic saga is far more comforting than seeing it for what it truly is: a devastating tragedy that changed the face of our nation beyond recognition, the scope of which we refuse to understand because it would challenge the most basic foundations of our nation as we conceive it today.
Many of us were not there to see history in the making, as we have become part of this wonderful little project in the aftermath of that faithful 25th of August, 2015. But many more were. These are the bears, dogs, donkeys, owls and more who braved the Andes and crossed a continent to save Sabia and Verona from the cataclysmic disaster ravaging her neighbor nation: the first settlers, the original Valtirians, the founders of Alios. It is for them that we mindlessly repeat the lyrics of our precious hon dao valtirias: “Through all the mountains, through all the rivers, trough all the roads of South America…”
But we cannot continue to lie to ourselves to protect the Northern settlers’ sensibilities. It is an insult to our historical patrimony to continue honoring Queen Isadora’s legacy whilst omitting the fact that her resignation was ushered by the vali elite to allow the crown to fall into the head of our reigning King.
It is wrong and morally unacceptable to call those who remained in the North heroes while we not only do nothing to help them escape their precarious situation, but downright ignore the fact that their rights are violated on a daily basis by the absolute absence of our national state in those territories, all as we continue to claim those territories as our sacred, sovereign soil.
This brings me to the main point I am trying to elaborate: the institutions of our national state cannot keep pretending the Northern regions are working areas of our nation, with active citizens and a functioning society. Historically, us Sabioveronese lawmakers have bent over backwards to avoid this uncomfortable truth at the center of the legacy of Haronos. The shameful pantomime of the United Assembly of Regions is an example of this. Again and again, special provisions were made to maintain the administrative makeup of the Northern territories, and as of our latest constitution, the historical regions of Sabia, Lycem and Verona are “autonomous regions with considerable oversight over their own political affairs”.
I cannot underscore enough how much of an insult to our intelligence it is to pretend the Northern regions are able to keep any degree of oversight over their own political affairs when there are no active citizens in the Northern regions. Regional elections were held in 2015, shortly after Haronos was executed, with limited help from vali close to the Royal Household, and since then the term length of elected officials in Northern regions has been repeatedly extended from two years, to three, to five. By the time the governors, councillors and prefects of the North finish their mandates, they will have collectively been the longest-serving officials in the history of the Valtir Sector, surpassing even King Tarik. What are we going to do when 2020 comes around, an entire generation of lawmakers and politicians finish their mandate, and no institutions are in place to organize elections, no citizens to even run for office? How long are we going to pretend this is a normal situation? Are we really willing to be so blind to the undeniable reality?
Not me. I refuse to look the other way. Present-day Sabia and Verona is a vibrant nation of over fifty active citizens, all of whom live, work, play, read, write and love in the South. The name of this nation may remind everyone of its proud past, and I stand by that. But our present is not in the North; Alios and Gonn are the new heart of this country. Our North is the South.
I do not say all of this to erase our nation’s history. On the contrary, I want Valtirians to open their eyes to the truth we all already know in order to let the wounds of our tragic past heal. Haronos was a traumatic event in our history, not only did it change the institutions and geography of Sabía and Verona: it altered the social fabric of our nation. Entire families were torn apart; friends, siblings, lovers were left behind, never to be seen again. It’s been nearly five years. These people are not heroes who sacrificed themselves for their nation, they are victims of a crime whose culprits stand miles away from the reaches of our justice.
It is imperative that we own up to these truths so that we may one day come to terms with them, and in the process, allow ourselves to move forward and progress as a nation that does not look towards the past with melancholy but rather hails the future with hope and the conviction that a traumatic event such as Haronos should never have to take place again.
I know these words will cut deep and many of my colleagues will never look at me the same way. I am risking a lot by sharing my thoughts, but I am also aware that I am not alone, and my belief that this is one of our most urgent needs as a nation gives me the certainty that the aftermath, whatever it entails, will be worth it.
Professor Soraya G. Hreti serves as Secretary of Education in the 12th government of Sabia and Verona and Democratic MP representing the Gonn list, and is Director of the Department of Plushological Studies at the Isadoran University of Darmosari.