Jean Swanson — Voting is a privilege and a duty
Voting in Canada is not compulsory. In my birthplace of Buenos Aires Argentina you are compelled to vote unless you are over 70. Then it is voluntary. Argentines of the 19th century thought that so many patriots had lost their lives for democracy that voting should be compulsory.
Because I left my birthplace when I was 15, I never voted while living in Mexico, as it seems that I never registered to vote so they did not know of my existence. When I returned in 1964 because I was a conscript in the Argentine Navy I was not allowed to vote as were all members of the armed forces.
You see in Argentina until recently the military dissolved governments (especially the freely elected ones) when they wanted to. The next rank for a four-star general used to be President.
Once I became a Canadian citizen, all that worry about voting or not voting became moot. Even if I had wanted to vote (in Argentina only death prevents me from losing my Argentine citizenship) I could not have as the military junta was in power and busily making people disappear or, to use that Argentine coinage “los suicidaron” or they suicided them.
When my Rosemary and I voted today ( a mere three blocks from our Kitsilano home) I was still surprised (I know better) not to see soldiers with automatic rifles guarding the entrance at the St. James Community Centre on 10th Ave and Trutch. Inside we were met with smiling faces. Carolina (originally from Mexico City) attended to me and when I told her about the lack of machine guns at the door she smiled and told me, “This is why I live here.”
And so, in boring Canada (thank you!) boring voting is just fine.
Especially when you realize that there have been deaths this week in a protest in Chile over the raising of transit fares and that in Peru they have a president and a vice president (who says she is president) while the opposition woman is in jail and her father a former president is also in jail. Another former president when security forces showed up at his door to arrest him for corruption, shot himself in the head and killed himself in the bathroom.
In his 1969 novel Conversación en la Catedral, Mario Vargas Llosa has one of is protagonists think to himself, “¿en qué momento se había jodido el Perú?” or in what moment did Perú get fucked.”