Jul 16, 2008


I don’t think I can make justice to the moments. There’s no way to describe how we felt, trapped in the house for a whole week. I’ve read tales of war, of death and murders. I am Colombian is hard to be one without being related to someone that can tell a drunken chilly story about someone’s death by the hands of the guerrillas.

Could’ve been worse? Yes, much worse! Was it anything compared to the grieving and terror some people live in other sides of the world in countries ravaged by war? No, hell no, it wasn’t. Did I fear for my life? Did I think that maybe they would just storm into our houses and take us away? Did I think that maybe the country was going to hell and all of us with it? Was I scared? Did I worry about the friends and family that I knew were out there marching? Was I worried that our fridge and pantry was empty and no way to go groceries shopping? Yes, yes to all, as unfounded as some might find my fears that didn’t make them any less real.

When all you’ve seen is peace and comfort, when all you have witnessed are some mild clashes, an armed strife of this magnitude can scare the shit out you. I sat in front of the TV with my mom, for the first time in my life regretting it was only us two in such a big and lonely house, watching the people tear each other apart, the crazy fanaticism in the eyes of the Chavez's supporters, the scary way they screamed and howled when he spoke, the passionate anger they felt. It didn’t seem like a happy following. They didn’t seem like a multitude of people filled with hopeful inspiration. They didn’t seem as if they were waiting to be saved (which is what they claim he did). They looked... vengeful. Their meekly following more like the obedience of a resentful pupil who expects the evil master to punish those who he thought had wronged him. I felt sick by the despicable signs they wrote saying "Dirty Colombians go back to your hole". I felt so bitter, so divided, I am Colombian but Venezuela was my land, it was my home. I felt like I would’ve felt if my mom had suddenly risen from the couch and told me to leave.

When did all this happen? How did we get here? When did we make the wrong turn? It was the reality of the new Venezuela, in front of my eyes, in live TV and still I couldn’t grasp the concept. But we are so mild! We are so lazy! We couldn’t be bothered with going to vote or stand up for the national anthem yet here we are standing in the street fighting our neighbor over this monkey-man that sits in our presidential chair! Where did all this belief come from? Where did all this passion? Since when does the national anthem make us want to cry? Since when is it cool to walk the street wearing the flag colors? Since when do we care about freedom? Since when do we chant and inexhaustibly march for what we believe? When did we start to care? I guess we all feel like fighting when everything that we hold dear seems threatened. When everything so precious that we took for granted is suddenly on the balance we all turn into fighters.

I could just sit and think. Why? Why? Why? Why? Why us? Why now? Why him? Not very original for an aspiring writer, but no other thought would form in my head. I could do nothing else but repeat that to myself over and over drowning the sounds from the street, the angry shouting the noises of the entire city that had pots and pans and banged them together all night as a sign of protest. I sat there and asked myself how and why until the TV showed the Chavistas breaking into the RCTV channel building; I asked myself how when the channel on TV went blank and the silence offered no answers to my questions.


On April 9, 2002 the leader of the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers called for a two-day strike against the government. Hundreds of thousands of members of the opposition took the streets in protest. Caracas, the capital, and the country were for that whole month unlivable. What was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration turned into a mini war.

Nothing, however, could stop the opposition; they walked and talked, and sang, and carried flags, and held hands in a beautiful display that still raises my hairs on end when I think about it and that was nothing short of heroic. I discovered myself hating "the others" too, not understanding how they could follow him, how they could love him, because love him they did. I wanted to stopped them and yell, "Don’t you see! Don’t you see what he is doing to us? What he is doing to this country?" I didn’t want to believe that it was because they were poor; I wasn’t raised to believe that money makes you better, but I wanted to. Oh, I wanted to believe the fact that their hunger and ignorance made them easily manipulated. I found myself clenching my hands when I watched them on TV, my nails digging half moons in the palm of my hands, calling them names, saying out loud that uneducated people shouldn’t have the right to vote. And then I heard what I had said, I was saying that, an ex law student, a person that believed in the principle that we have rights, to think, to choose, to vote, for whomever we want to. I felt betrayed by my own beliefs, because even as I recoiled at what had just come out of my mouth, I still felt the same when I saw them shooting people from the opposition because our president asked them to.

On April 11, 2002 the opposition marched, peacefully from one end of the capital to the other the president called his people, his followers, and his "Bolivarian circles" to defend his so called "Bolivarian Revolution". I was baffled when he said "People of Venezuela, go and protect this blessed revolution, go fight the enemy" What enemy? Are his followers more Venezuelan than the members of the opposition? Were we second class citizens?

I might be a little biased, as a fervent member of the opposition myself, but is hard not to believe the images when the newscast showed the president’s followers from a bridge, hiding behind buildings and cowardly shooting down at the members of the march, who peacefully (I can’t stress that enough), walked, and sang. For their country, for their freedom, for the right to take the country out of his arbitrary hands into the hands of someone who knew what was doing. RCTV, a privately owned TV station and one of the most outspoken critics of the Chavez presidency showed the people getting shot, the victims, the blood, the tears, the kids, the women, the elder, the young men, the Venezuelan people being murder by their brothers. The channel split the screen in two, in one the protesters were being shot at and in the other the president shamelessly addressed the country, reassuring them that nothing, absolutely nothing was wrong, and that the people could go to the streets and check it out.

While pandemonium broke, and screams and shooting reached my ears from the streets, I sat in my living room, crying and shaken, afraid for the lives of friends and family that had gone out to march, wondering how we ended here. How the country had turned against itself and now there were people out there, shooting each other, because you love him, or you hate him. And the camera man filmed a guy, looking around him, the same feeling I was feeling, reflected in his face... "How could this happen?"

FACT: RCTV closed its doors after 54 years of broadcasting on 2007 after the Chavez's refused to renew their license. As of today September 11, 2009 they remained closed down. The government appropriated all of RCTV's equipment to use it in a government owned channel.