Jul 16, 2008


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.

No comments: