martes, 29 de enero de 2008

(I) Reaction and Revolution: "Where are the students?"

The first question I ask to myself when it comes to write some lines about the story of the White Hand (student) movement is “Why the movement did not existed before?” and consequently, “Where were the students before June of 2007?” It’s a fact: during the first marches, April 11 of 2002, the strike that came later that year, the radical protest of 2004, the recall on the Chavez rule we lost and a million etc; during five years or so of political struggle in my country against the Revolution, no student movement on any side of the spectrum appeared as a significant political force. My parents were seriously worried about not seeing “muchachos” (means… young people) at the demonstrations and I confess I was too and more than one time I wondered where the hell my generation was.
I think I was an odd part of my generation: my family took good care of that and some books did the rest. I attended to political demonstrations at an age as early as 17 and joined a political party when I was 18 years old. But, in my 90 students class of the first year of the university I was probably the only one – no joke about it – who was part of a political party. My friends and classmates were, of course, worried about the situation; the Venezuelan political crisis entered every home without asking first – in some homes more than others. One dad losing a job, one girlfriend leaving the country and a heart broken, more needs to be covered and less money than before to attend such a need… But their major reaction was basically a nasty apathy that I fought against without any success at all.
Some of my friends, thankfully, used to go the demonstrations but must refused. In part was because they were lazy about getting up one Saturday after partying the night before for attending to a demonstration under the unbearable noon heat and probably avoiding some nasty tear gas and pellets (only a couple of nerds like me did that). Another part was annoying enough to remind me, demonstration after demonstration that: “Marches do not bring down a government”. And another part was busy enough criticizing the politicians for actually taking the trouble of becoming one.
Since my first day of class at the university I always held the hope of seeing an important voice from the students to raise but I did not see that until the 4th year of my career and it didn’t had an important influence until the 5th year of my career.
I remember a couple of episodes that made me raise my hopes during my first year of university… only to bringing them down all over again. Some decree (or maybe it was another stupid Chavez speech, now I don’t remember the details) was announced during that academic year and I saw some posters on my hallways announcing a demonstration that it would walk from Chacaito to Plaza Venezuela (near the main university of my country) to protest against that decree. I think it was the first “student” protest I can think of during the Revolution.
I was determined about going and totally failed on convincing my classmates to join me (all over again…) so I skipped the "social and political philosophy" lass and took the subway alone. I was partially worried because I was just learning how to use the subway, and getting to actually know my city (a middle class girl, going for years to a catholic school located a few blocks away from home can hardly get to know the rest of the world… the university is always an opening in that sense) plus I remember I was carrying a lot of books and did not had an appropriate outfit for going to a protest. I saw a couple at the wagon who were speaking about the same demonstration I was going to and I followed them. I think the three of us were the only UCAB students who went to that demonstration.
We got down the subway and reached to the square where the demonstration was supposed to start. For someone used to big masses protest the number of people gathered there was simply ridiculous, like a family meeting. We marched and made some chants and did not even stop the traffic for doing so, only the sidewalk and a little tiny part of the street. In the protest I unexpectedly met my elder brother who is also related to academy. I thought he was going to yell at me because I was supposed to be in class and I was alone in a political demonstration in a side of the city I was not familiar with back then: it was the recipe of a disaster. So I looked at him with scary eyes and was surprised when he decided to only give me a surprised smile “so who’s your philosophy professor? Oh I know that guy… It’s just one day, I’m sure he’ll understand” – and he just kept walking and chanting next to me. Family and politics, a constant in my life, I guess.
My philosophy professor smiled too when I gave excuses before the next class. He must have thought it was simply cute that a student who – btw, and I don’t pretend to be egocentric with this – had great grades missed the only class of the year to attend to a tiny demonstration no one else heard of and was making excuses about it like a fanatic nerd on the next class about it. He just looked me and said “Sit, the class is about to start” – Like saying … “Hey girl… this is called u-n-i-v-e-r-s-i-t-y, here you make your own decisions and my only concern is to see a decent paper written by you on my desk at the end of the term”(about the pic: the Chacaíto are of Caracas, I took it a couple of days ago).

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