My best friend just called in the middle of the night saying: “I’m so mad, I’m just so mad about all this”. And then he talked about extreme measures to be taken, like staying at the streets “hasta que el cuerpo aguante” (“until the body can bare it”). He expressed the general mood that I can sense in the streets of Caracas. Doesn’t matter if you are against the government or not, if the environment is able to drag you enough, suddenly you feel tired, sick, and over all, angry.
The tense situation back in May, when RCTV (the opposition TV channel that until it was closed had the higher audience) was about to be closed by the government, now looks like a kids game to me; as the events get more and more radical, more and more violent and more and more miserable.
Radical, because between the emergency of the Chavistas to see the Constitutional Reform approved by December; and the emergency of the ones who opposes to the regime (and well, why not say this? Even some Chavistas as well) to not see that reform approved ever; the situation it’s so grave that there’s not much space for tolerance left.
About the violence I don’t think I need to explain why I think the situation is getting violent, because its pretty obvious for anyone who has been aware of it, no matter the source. But what is important to notice is that the students are the ones who have gotten the worse part of this story.
I lost count of how many times one of the main student leaders: Yon Goicoechea has been beaten by a group of Chavez supporters in the middle of the most unusual situations: inside a congress planned to “discuss” the reform, in a communitarian meeting, at the streets, in an academic forum or at the parking line…
Last week, at an assembly in my university (he goes there for law school) he told us about an aggression he and other students suffered when they protested about the reforms proposed for the article 337 of the Constitution (which, as it was first proposed, allowed the president to declare an exceptional state without no human rights guarantees, including the right of a fair trial and to be informed; now after many protest some rights has been included but the right of being informed remains suppressed). They did that in an 100% Chavista “discussion” of the upcoming constitutional reform, that took place in a famous theater of Caracas called “Teresa Carreño”.
.- When they started hitting us – He said – the people in charge of the event “burda ‘e ratas” (Venezuelan slang, means something like “very rats”, very clever but bad people) turned off the lights of the theatre so you could not see a thing. Luckily some Chavistas inside the event defended us and stopped the madness, otherwise, I could not tell about the consecuences– The injuries of the White Hand students who attended to that event were not serious this time. “Can you imagine how scary that must be? To be hit in a place filled with Chavistas in a total darkness?” – A friend of mine, sitting next to me asked me while another student leader was talking about the movement next moves.
Yesterday, as a “Crónica de una muerte anunciada” (“Chronicle of a death foretold”, I’m just using the title of a famous Gabriel García Márquez novel), Yon end up in the clinic with his nose broken, although the journalists around him got the worse part of this questionable behavior of some chavistas.
And last Tuesday the students called for a demonstration till the National Assembly in order to protest against the proposed Constitutional Reform. Since I was sick, I “sent my mom in my representation” (just an inside joke, she wanted to go and joined the White Hand students anyway) and I stayed at home, feeling how my legs almost could move by themselves because of the desire of being elsewhere, and tuned with Globovisión (the only opposition Channel we have, not always the greatest journalism but like I said, It’s our only formal source) and a few news websites.
As always, the students from the White Hand movement couldn’t reach to the National Assembly building and had to stay at some boring place, blocks away from the goal where, ironically, the chavistas were comfortable gathered.
The situation at the end of this demonstration in particular was very confusing. Seems that the police ring was installed even more blocks away than what the authorities established in the first place, so the students got angry and broke the ring (no idea how they did it, because to break a police ring is not an easy task, as the matter of fact before Tuesday I thought it was simply impossible) and advance a few more steps until the place where the demonstration was authorized to be at first.
In the meantime, tear gas bombs and bottles were thrown against the protesters. Now I rarely get the chance to see this kind of events on live TV since I’m always at the place where the events are developing and when I come back home, after all that adrenaline, I always feel way too tired to watch the TV news of what I’ve already lived. Therefore, I don’t know if what I saw has happened before but on TV you could see groups of Chavistas throwing things against the protesters and both the police and the national guard didn’t seemed to bother about it. Maybe this is just a paranoid observation, I’m not sure.
Later that day, my mom came back with those stories that the TV could not tell me. According to her, several bottles were thrown from the apartments against the protesters gathered at the streets. My mom and my aunt started walking as stocked against a wall as they could; while they were seeing the bottles crashing right next to their feet. Was a pretty confusing and scary situation for the both of them.
And my cousin had a terrible allergy reaction to the tear gas. Maybe it was his first meeting with the –already familiar for me – white smoke. I could not tell. “It all had a terrible April 11 smell, I did not liked it and we try to leave as soon as possible” – My mom told me as the end of her story.
Last but not least, the situation Venezuelans face lately can be also described as miserable, mainly because of the reality now Venezuelans face as the shortages are getting more serious than the way they used to be. The main one these days: milk. Although Daniel mentions in his blog (I don't know if I'm linking to the right entry, because he has been talking a lot about shortages lately) that he’s now counting the second week without seeing fresh milk, my counting can be tracked down long before that, when I was at the Margarita island for vacations at the end of August making with my dad a series of non successful trips throughout the whole island just to find some milk. Of course, since then I have seen a few times one or two litters of fresh low fat milk, the one we would rather drink at home but those times has been rare, the milk insufficient for feed my whole family and the brands on which it comes, always totally unfamiliar to me.
My sister is specially concerned about maybe, some day, any day soon, not being able to find the special milk her baby (who was born a few months ago) needs. But, as my mom fairly pointed out, the concerns are way much bigger for any family with kids over 1 year old and under 12 years old.
While we were seeing the news about the student leader seriously injured and the long lines people now need to make (specially the people from the lower classes) to get some milk or chicken, my mom started thinking out loud: “We better start buying provisions. This whole thing smells like a Caracazo to me” – Sigh…I hope that my mom sense of smell doesn’t become prophetic now.
About the picture: A injured student during the demonstrations of last Tuesday 23/10/2007, taken by Carlos Weil, one of my friend' brothers.