For the last few days the streets in Venezuela have been taken over by an ever growing group of students. From Caracas to Merida, from Maracaibo to Valencia, all the major and minor cities are involved in a protest against the tyranny of the government.
I am talking about young women and men, some no older than seventeen years old, many even younger than that. Can you remember what you were doing when you were seventeen? How many of us were out in the street fighting against oppression, rampant delinquency, corruption, shortage of basic goods, inflation, fighting for life.
I was growing up in those same streets when I was seventeen. I walked them without fear, I walked them happily; I walked them at any hour of the day without fearing for my safety. It was beautiful time to be a seventeen year old in Caracas.
So far five students have lost their lives fighting because they are tired of the land they live in, they are tired of the fear, they are no longer afraid (The number of victims hasn’t been confirmed since the protest is still going). I see the videos that fill the net (Facebook and Twitter have become the only way for them to spread the news since the government controls all forms of media) I see them there standing defenseless, wearing a flag, singing and facing off against a line of fully decked guards and running away from tear gas (some are saying even nerve gas) and they come back, they don’t give up, they cough, they cry, they convulse and vomit and bleed and fall, and die and come back. They are so brave, I was never that brave.
I see them singing the national anthem Gloria al Bravo Pueblo (Glory to the brave people), praying Hail Mary’s and Our Fathers, repeating “The people united will never be defeated” or “Viva Venezuela” holdings hands and helping each other and it rips my heart in two.
I saw a video, filmed on someone’s cellphone and uploaded to Youtube and one of those students (Bassil Alejandro Dacosta) is seen falling down after running away from the GNB (Bolivarian National Guard). He was peacefully protesting, he had no weapons on him and as he ran away he was shot, right there on the street in front of everyone. You can see him falling, probably dead before he hits the floor and is such a disturbing thing to see, life snuffed as if it was nothing. He was 24 years old.
The other students turned around, saw him on the floor and without any care for their own safety ran back for him and took his lifeless body with them. I see that video and I cannot wrap my mind around what is happening.
A 22 year old beauty queen got shot in the head and died yesterday. The picture of her being carried away to the hospital on a motorcycle gave me chill and haunted me all day. Her hair flew in the wind; her arms were limp, her head thrown back. The guy carrying her was holding onto her so strong. I wonder who he was, a family member? A friend? Boyfriend? Concerned stranger?
I am in bed with Zoey and Max next to me, my husband watching TV downstairs, all safely home and I feel this raging impotence, kind of like when I saw Blackfish, angry tears made my chest hurt, I feel so frustrated and angry and sad.
I wonder what I would be doing if I were there. Would I be outside fighting alongside them? Or would I hide in my house, away from the dangers. DH said to me that if he had to go through what Venezuelans are going through today he would be outside, marching, fighting. It makes sense why they risk their lives, their safety.
“All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come”. Victor Hugo knew what he was speaking of. The time has come for Venezuelans and I hope nothing will stop them.