sábado, 10 de noviembre de 2007

(Part I) "To the highway!" (Thursday, Nov 1st, 2007)

I decided to attend a White Hand – student movement demonstration. We were marching till the Electoral Centre in order to ask for a delay on the date to hold the referendum for approving that nasty Constitutional Reform proposed by the government.I met my mom at some square and we soon found the first problem in order to go to that protest: a few subway stations, basically the ones we needed to get there were closed due to an electricity trouble that perhaps was just that: an electricity trouble but on a demonstration day looked certainly suspicious.
We walked a few walks and took a bus with some more protesters. Before we knew it we found ourselves surrounded by dozens of people – students mostly- , ready to start walking till the CNE. As always, the start of a demonstration is filled with happy screams; small peaces of paper being dropped from the buildings, chants, pictures and smiles. Quite a carnival, just that the people is not there to perform a parade. I hope that, Inside their heads, bigger concerns develops.

As we get to our goal, in Caracas downtown, the tension grows. Some groups of Chavistas are separated from us thanks to a huge police ring, not that this scare me since I have seen the exact same scene since I started marching back on 2002. I recognized the corner were the troubles started on the last demonstration and take a huge breathe that it was totally worthless in order to calm me down. Out of nowhere, we started hearing some “boom, boom, boom” strange explosion sound. First seemed far, then it approached. The people stands for a minute and rolls their heads trying to figure out where does that sound comes from. No one runs because since we don’t know the origins of those explosions, we also don’t know if we might end up running just to met the people who’s making them.
“Tear gas bombs, perhaps also a molotov” – I try to distinguish the sound of the explosions – “Come, lets stay behind this car” – My mom said. She had found out the origins: some policemen were running with their shields through one corner: perhaps they were dealing a Chavista protest right next to ours that got out of control.
A terrible and not understandable fear - given the fact that I've been there, done that - took advantage of me and as soon as we stopped hearing the explosions, I asked my mom more as an order than a request, screaming in an annoying way, to go back. And so we did, while my best friend decided to keep walking till the CNE. I put the excuse that given the fact that I had a surgery just a few weeks ago and the doctor said very clearly "no sports"; walking some miles under the noon heat of Caracas, chanting; then standing for hours at the same place and running from the military and/or the policemen can be considered as a sport so I cannot take a lot of risk. But, to be honest, this is a terrible lie and a poor excuse and even my mom quickly noticed that all I have was fear and it had nothing to do with my health.
I don't know if it's ok or not to have fear, specially since the chant "no tenemos miedo" ("we are not afraid")has become so popular during the demonstration and at the assambly, some students often criticize - and they are right- others of leaving the streets empty and a few lonely students just after the first tear gas bomb was dropped. I don't know if the protests are getting more dangerous as time goes by or I'm getting more coward with time. I remember being afraid five years ago when the biggest protest against this government started, I remember how hard it was to me to go marching to commemorate just one or two months after, the events of April 11, 2002. I spent that whole march looking at the buildings as if I could, by doing that, see a shooter before the rest of the marchers. But the fear was never as strong as it is nowadays, never before it made me ask my mom like a stupid little girl in the middle of a student protest counting that I'm one of the older ones; to go back and don't get to the ending point.
I have no excuses or even stances about this fear yet. As I always say, you can't fully understand the nature of the events and your feelings related to them at the exact same moment when they are developing. It's only when you think about it later when you maybe, if you are lucky enough, get to understand them. At least, this is my case.
Anyway, on our way back home, we stopped at the first Mc Donals we saw (the anti- imperialist dreamers can sue me for this if they want to, but I like the Mc Donals greasy French fries and won't stop liking them because of politics) to have lunch and unfortunately, there was no way to get news there. Since we saw some demonstrators also entering to that place and with no signs of damage, we thought that putting the scary explosions we heard aside; this was going to be a peaceful demonstration. When we got home and we saw the images of students running across the Bolivar avenue with their eyes red because of the tear gas (and my cousin who's just starting the university told us on the phone the "funny story" about her naive attempt to kick one of those tear gas bombs that fall just next to her feet and then fall in a stupid way because of being out of football practice), we knew that we were naively mistaken
About the picture: I took it when the demonstration was just starting. I must tell that even if it was officially a student demonstration they were more than students there -mostly moms, dads, and professors plus people from political parties invited- which explains the lady in the center of the picture.

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