miércoles, 28 de marzo de 2007

Final thoughts on April 11 and the days after

The government and the people in general should understand once and for all that the opposition doesn't have and it has never had leaders in the conventional way. The lack of leaders has being historically during this fight against Chavez regime one of our more visible weakness. We went to many demonstrations and risk our lives, including that crazy one on April 11, 2002 ONLY because we opposed Chavez.Not because some opposition party leader said on TV "lets take the streets". We didn't care who said it, we went out and took the streets anyways. Those bad called opposition leaders were more like trapped in a crowd asking for the end of this red madness instead of really guiding that crowd.
Doesn't matter if you like it or not, the government says that the crowds of April 11, 2002 were the puppets of some leaders who work for the imperialism. But the trouble is that it happened just backwards: the "leaders" were the puppets of the crowd that fatidic day.
Even, this whole argument only gives the right to opposition versions of the events on April 11, 2002. The goverment has the duty of guarantee the life and integrity of each and every one of their citizens, even if they are manipulated to go to situations that imply danger to them. And in what world, a democratic government dares to say that there's a risk of losing the life, if one decides to walk to the goverment palace to ask for the president resignation like we did?.
Let’s, in a supposition, follow the government version and say yes, we are sheep’s and we walked to the government palace because our leaders unconsciously made us go there. Only means that the government it’s admitting their own crime. By saying that, the government only says to me, that you are a citizen with the right to protest on the streets and live to tell it; if you are agree with them.
For me this is so obvious, so clear, that I don't understand how can someone accept and believe the government version. But many accept it, many believe it. People who supports the government, people who supports the opposition, people who don't like any side; Venezuelans and foreigners, common people and academics. This is my world, this is a world filled with contradictions.
In Venezuela and when it comes to writing about Venezuela anything is possible. This is a place where people believes on elephants flying and call "imperialist" to the people who says that fishes live in the ocean.

The government side and my side, on April 11 events

The government version in very short words (and probably twisted, because I'm against the government) about the events of April 11, 2002 and the days after, comes as it follows (if there’s any mistakes about the following version, any government supporter its free and more than welcome to comment below about it).
1) The government version
It was a coup, the poor Chavez president was taken out of his power and the evils of the empire, supported by United States and with Carmona leading it all, destroyed the democracy with no mercy. On April 13, the people of Venezuela realize of this obvious abuse and came out in mass to the streets to ask for their president Chavez, constitutionally elected, to come back to power. The imperialist didn't had other choice but surrender and letting him come back to power. About the killings of April 11 it is quite clear that more government supporters died that day that on the opposition side and was one police of Caracas called Metropolitana (for that time under jurisdiction of an opposition mayor) the responsible for the killings. The famous video that shows people with Chavez t-shirts shooting from a bridge is not people shooting against the demonstration from the opposition; its government supporters defending themselves of the Metropolitana police that was attacking them. Besides that, the only guilty of the few people who were killed from the opposition side are the opposition leaders who took that people with no conscience to the valley of death.
This is also the version that the international community follows like the Bible. Even on the press against the government you can read sentences like "the coup given against Chavez on 2002". But I'm not stupid enough to believe this whole version...
2) My version.
Yes, United States was perhaps the only country who supported Carmona's quick government. And to support a non democratic government on doubtful circumstances can't never be a smart choice.
Yes, the opposition members who wrote, read and signed the "Decreto Carmona" were clearly against the constitution. Yes, on April 13, many Chavez supporters (notice carefully that I put "Chavez supporters" instead of the "people of Venezuela" as I put on the previous, government version paragraph; this is because I'm not a Chavez supporter and that shouldn't make me any less part of the "people of Venezuela), and most of them from poor areas filled the streets asking for Chavez to came back to power.
About April 11, 2002 I have to say No. It disrespects the memory of the victims. I wrote this on the old entry about that day and I have to repeat it all over again: my brother saw the Chavez supporters on the bridge, and people on the roof, shooting against the demonstration of the opposition, that he was part of like I was. This time, I rather believe to my own brother, instead of a government that it has make me doubt way too much and not just on this matter. Forgive me for this personal and perhaps twisted decision.
The argument, that puts as the only guilty in charge the leaders of the opposition demonstration of the death because they let and suggest that demonstration to walk with no conscience to death, I also say No out loud. We didn't just follow the leaders of the opposition demonstration to the government palace like Le Bon blind sheeps. I was there. The screams for "Miraflores!" came from the crowd, and then we heard the plan to walk there from the leaders. Was a quick choice, was a major risk, who knows if this was the smartest choice but it was the choice of the crowd as It was later the choice of the leaders.

martes, 27 de marzo de 2007

(Part II) The days after April 11 as I lived them

When we came back home we saw on the news many people from the Chavez government were chased and detained by the police in the middle of people screaming "Asesino! Asesino!" (Killer). We heard the "Asesino" scream many times during those days and afterwards. We didn't smiled or join the screams as we were watching them on TV; I didn't presence any of those events on the streets, none of them took place near by home.We felt anger, about that people that were hiding their faces with looks of fear, we had for certain that they were killers, we knew they were responsible of the events of just some hours before. But, I couldn't feel the difference between justice and revenge. It was the war. And I had to belong to one of the sides. But the madness was in both sides.
Today I'm ashamed of that behavior the opposition had and I can't run off the responsibility saying that "I wasn't there" because I don't know how my acting’s would have been if I had the opportunity of being there. Hence, that doesn't take any less guilt off the government because of the massacre of April 11, 2002.
On the night of April 12, 2002; my parents invited a few uncles to dinner and celebrate that Chavez wasn't the president anymore, or maybe just talk about what was happening and dry out a little bit all the confusion that filled the environment.
They discussed the "Decreto Carmona" and fall into the immediately logical conclusion: "This is not democracy, this is a government "de facto"". The promise was a dictatorship, this time from the right, but a dictatorship none the less. That was not a secret. "There’s no other way to fix things around here" - One relative say, while the rest of the people at the table were worried about it. "I don't know what happened, I don't know if this is democracy or not, but I do know now that the inversions will come like rice... Finally! So cheers for the government "de facto"!" - An uncle screamed, raising a glass of red wine. And the rest joined him: “For this government de facto!”.
If the night of April 11 was the night of the rumors, the afternoon and the night of April 12, and all day of April 13 were the explosion of rumors. And only a very few real news about the recent events: more killings, only United States and don't remember who else recognized the new government.
The rest, we just had the phone and the stories. According to those stories Chavez went to many places those hours. On the afternoon of April 13 we heard the worse rumor of all "Chavez is going back to power". But "How?" - We asked to ourselves. And that night we saw a smiling Chavez, hugging some ministers, and coming out to the "people's balcony" to give a speech to a red crowd.
It was over, we never knew if this was a coup, a dream, a world of confusion, a swindle or a combination of all that. We just turned off the TV. I hide in my sheets and cried in silence. I knew the rest of my family was crying as well in their beds.

(Part I) The days after April 11 as I lived them

I already told my story about the events of April, 11, 2002; but didn't said a word about what happened afterwards.On the comments of the previous entry I found myself in a discussion with a foreigner- Chavez supporter who accuses me of being a Carmona supporter (the man who was named president by the opposition during the days of 11,12 and 13 April, 2002). If he knew some Spanish he could also call me "golpista"(a “couper”), a favorite revolutionary insult. He made those accusations without really knowing my stances and experiences on the topic, of whom I’m ready to show now.
We almost didn't sleep during the night of April 11, 2002. We heard people celebrating that Chavez wasn't the president anymore; we were hearing stories about such a horrible day that seemed to end up not so bad.
First the demonstration and the killings, we still don't know how many people were killed that day, from whatever political side, doesn't matter to me. Then, those mystery hours without opposition TV Channels. Then, Chavez resignation. A few military, and the general Lucas Rincón saying on TV "Se le solicitó al presidente Hugo Chávez Frías su renuncia, la cual aceptó" ("We asked to the president Hugo Chávez Frías his resign, and he accepted"). Then the celebration / remembrance that we attended on the streets. And then the rumors.
We didn't quite understand the events then, and I still don't understand them now. The night of April 11, 2002 was the night of the rumors. The night that the phone in my house rang without stopping, and it brought the craziest stories ever and I will never know how many of them were true, part of the truth, or just plain rumors. "Chavez it’s in jail in La Tortuga" (La Tortuga is a small island of Venezuela), "He is trying to escape to Cuba" and so on.
The day after my mom and I, in one of our sometimes crazy and dangerous acts of curiosity, took the car and went to Caracas downtown just to see how the "situation" was. We heard on the news that you could still see bodies on the streets but we didn't saw a thing. Unusual empty streets and nothing else.
"Maybe we should approach to Miraflores palace" - She said (Miraflores is the government palace). When we were just a few blocks away we heard on the radio the famous "Decreto Carmona". That paper in short words, changed the official name of Venezuela (República Bolivariana de Venezuela) to the old name, the one the country had before Chavez constitution on 1999 (which was República de Venezuela); took the power out of the assembly and so on. Many, many things against democracy, against constitution. A radical anti-revolution act.
My mom and I first smiled, specially when we heard that we went back to our old name, was a quick flashback when we felt for the first time in three years by then that our old identity was being restored. But then, after 10 or 11 points of that paper, my mom and I decided to drive back home: something there just didn't sound right.

lunes, 12 de marzo de 2007

A conflictive star

Today, on the way back home after class, a friend asked me the following question: "So, How do you feel about knowing that today isn't "the day of the flag" for the first time?" - I didn’t even thought about it until he brought it up, so I answered a little bit sad and astonished - "I feel... out of place".One year ago, our president asked to the assembly to add an eight star to our seven star flag.
The assembly (witch its totally red, as you know) accepted and on March 12, 2006, our flag changed and because of that, last year was the last "day of the flag" we had on the traditional date: March 12. If you don't look at it carefully, you can't hardly see the difference:
(On the left is the old flag, and the right, is the new one; colors should be the same, notice the difference only by the number of stars in the blue part and of course there's another difference: the horse of the shield, but I won't discuss that difference on this entry).
That different amount of stars doesn't mean a thing for many people. You can usually hear comments like: "Is just one more star" but for me that star makes the difference between the Venezuela where I was born and grow up and this new Venezuela in witch one I almost cannot recognize myself. "I'm proud to say that I wasn't in the country when he decided to change our flag, so the only flag I respect as my own is the one who has 7 stars"- I added as some stupid honor point (I was in Mexico on that day, taking part of an academic event). I wasn't surprised, when I returned to my country, that no one said a thing about the flag: people tend to think that symbols doesn't matter. If they only knew...
As the days passed by; the old 7 star flag became an opposition icon so for that you cannot find the official 8 star flag among the millions of flags on any political demonstration against Chavez; witch on government demonstrations is completely different of course. And that only makes me think that we don't even fight for the same country. Or at least, not the same nation. This definitely has serious implications that I have mention (barely, I know) on previous entries.
A few months ago, a foreigner asked me what was the big deal about putting an extra star to the flag. I explained him that Venezuela before the independence had 9 provinces; only 7 were agree about the independence process and signed, Coro and Guayana stayed with the Spanish. After the patriots won over the resistance in Guayana, the last province on being liberated, Simon Bolívar, our liberator, designed a new flag that had 8 stars instead of 7, including in that way the province of Guayana. But for me, and many others, Guayana joined the independence process by war, by guns and not by pens putting a signature. So lets just say that is not exactly a democratic star. That's why is so important.
While I was giving to the foreigner that explanation, another girl who's not even pro- Chavez (but is not a friend of the opposition either), interrupted me and screamed saying: "Noooo... that's not what happen" and she started explaining another story: About Páez betrayal to Bolivar ideals and how he didn't allowed that 8th star to be included. The foreigner looked at my face witch was probably red and filled with anger and he immediately understood why a simple flag means such a huge distance between the ones who once were just Venezuelans.
"So when is "the day of the flag" now?" - I asked to my friend - "Some day in august I think... No one is going to remember it" - He laughed and then we saw an apartment building with one unusual detail: a flag showed in one of the balconies. Of course it was too far away and we couldn't count how many stars that flag had but yet, we have strong and obvious reasons to suspect it was a 7 star flag - "Hmmm, look! someone still don't know that the 12 of March isn't "the day of the flag" anymore"- He said pointing the flag.
I smiled and thought - "No... what a relief! , someone still resist...".