domingo, 16 de septiembre de 2007

(Part II) So what?

The White Hand Movement brought up the issue of the intolerance between Venezuelans in a brand new way. Most of us in our 20’s, after growing up with the revolution, were just saying that we don’t care where does it comes from, but we are sick and tired of the hate – just in the same way you get tired and sick of eating the same all the time, even if it seemed to taste good at first – and we ask everybody (specially the government) to put an end to it.But those principles the White Hand Movement established were soon put into risk at least one time.
As the reader might remember, the day the students from the Movement went to the – red- National Assembly to make their speech and retire afterwards; a few students who supported the government stayed in the room and made their speeches defending the revolution as passionate as they could.

One of them goes to my university –the UCAB: Catholic University Andres Bello – than its well known for being mostly filled with students against the government. So his speech offended most of the students, specially the parts where he attacked directly our university. He said that the university should pay him back (it’s a private university) because of the classes he missed during the protests just after the RCTV clossure. I heard the rumor that some professors went to his classroom in the usual schedule like they were no protest around to wait for him but he never show up. However, this is only a rumor; so obviously, I don't know if it’s true.

Then, the day the students decided to go back to the normal class schedule, this guy showed up at the cafeteria wearing a red jacket. Some people started insulting him; others throw coins at him for “paying back the classes he missed during those two last weeks”. I don’t know who were the ones who did it, how it started, or how it stopped because I wasn’t at the cafeteria at the moment. But the minute I heard some students talking about it I knew it was a huge mistake that will certainly going to bring troubles to the movement. For reasons that I also ignore, the state channel recorded the scene.

An assembly was called at noon that very same day, and the main auditorium was crowed. It impressed me the amount of journalist also gathered at the assembly.

The president of one of the students center at the university (social communication); a very funny, short guy who is great given speeches to the masses during any demonstration and we always tease him about it; took the microphone and started telling the story about what happened that morning at the cafeteria and said that he has invited the student who suffered the aggression for being a Chavista because he deserved a public apology. The students leaders one by one spoke about how sorry they were and how disappointed they felt about that morning events.

The leader who first took the microphone slaped at the back of the Chavista student and said he was welcome to the assembly anytime he wants to. Then he offered the microphone to the student to make his stance. I don’t exactly remember his words, he said he appreciated the apologies and that in the university should be plain space for everybody.

I could feel that the students sitting around me were mad about what happened and strongly believed in the student leader’s words of apology. The “I’m sorry” spoken there was authentic and I felt relieved. But beyond those considerations about the authenticity of the event, that public apology was more than necessary for the White Hand movement to survive.

After that show, the White Hand Movement leaders plus this student were inmediatly hunted by several reporters filled with questions. Since I’m very short and skinny, I could easily sneak in and hear all that they were saying. I stood behind one of the leaders first, he was saying that he hoped situations like that wont repeat ever again, that this is why the movement is working so hard to promote reconciliation.

Then I walked a little and managed to stand behind the pro- Chavez student who suffered the aggression. He was being interviewed by one of the pro- government channels and with his forehead sweating he told the reporter: “They throw coins of 500 Bolivares against me. And we all know how much damage a 500 Bolivares coin can cause. They…”. I sighted: “Could this guy would, please, for a minute, try to cooperate?”. – I thought. I mean I'm not saying he has no right to complain, because no words can justify the students behavior against him...but when was the last time you heard of someone going to the hospital because of a coin attack?

This reconciliation process is not as easy - and even less as fast- as painting your hands with white.

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