Your mom looked nonetheless, radiant. She was packing the bags with your dad and they both looked radiant, and tense, and worried, and; well, panicked. We were not helping them packing their bags; we were at a protest instead, a few blocks away.
You’ll see; just the day you were born, the most famous, oldest, and most widely viewed TV Channel, called RCTV closed forever; at least in open signal. So we were protesting about it. I know what you are thinking, I know you are raising an eyebrow and wondering why we made such a big deal over a TV channel closure. I know you were born with Internet and ever since you were little you watched Cartoons on Youtube so you don’t care about TV much. But TV was still very important back then. Or maybe not so much. To be honest, RCTV was a very low quality TV channel, with a vulgar corny programming. We never watched it. The protest was about something more important than a TV channel, something that it was very important back then and it should be important still: it was about freedom. It was about the citizens standing against the president because a man in power can’t make a decision just because he wants to. No one is above the law. No one. And no one in power is allowed to restrict their rights to anyone else; including one’s right to be free. One’s right to watch a low quality TV channel. Even if the TV is low quality. And even if the channel says things against the regime.
So we were protesting – meaning your grandparents and myself – and in a very confusing situation, the police started dropping tear gas to us, and other things too. When it happened, your grandmother had already left the protest and come back home and I was hanging out with some friends. We realized we had nowhere to run and the situation became quite stressing, until we found a hotel door and refugee with another group in the lobby. We had planned to stay in the streets until midnight, when the closure of the channel really occurred. But we had to sit in a corner of a hotel lobby for an hour or more; until we stopped hearing detonations.
When we got out off the hotel, the protest was over. I did not have minutes to call your grandma and there were no bus or taxis available; so I walked with a friend throughout the highway (yes, the highway; pushing ourselves to the border while cars were sporadically passing by). As we walked, still scared; my friend asked me if I was going to the university the day after. I said no. Because you were coming…
We stayed up that night until RCTV broadcasted its last minutes: an image of the channel employees crying while the national anthem was played. “I hope my kid can born in a free country” – Your dad said, still in hopes that there was a backing down somehow.
Unfortunately, you were not born in a free country. But then, who does? I might have born in a country a bit more free than the one you were born years later; but at the end, all generations seem to be condemned to fight for rights they should already take for granted.
A few hours later we rushed to the clinic. Your mom had a scheduled cesarean because… I really don’t remember the medical details. It was a complicated road. There were many streets closed by protesters in our way to the clinic. We explained to each block point that you were coming to the world and they looked at your mom and let us pass. It wasn’t that bad, because we were at the end, supporting the protesters. It was more like an adventure. Like a story to tell you.
My sister got into the delivery room or the operating room or whatever and we waited for you; with the TV on. Told you, those days were the last days were TV was still important to us. I realized that there were two stories about the day you were born; one about an end and another about a beginning. At least that’s what I thought when I saw my friends protesting and making statements on TV. And many many many others like me. Many university students. I was in my last year and I waited all five years in the university to see what the TV screen was giving me while I was waiting for you. The university students were finally, and massively, standing against the government. That awful government that feel entitled to be above the law and everyone’ rights. I felt proud and contradicted. I wanted to be there. Don’t blame for it. I can assure you I wanted to be where I was as well.
We turned off the TV because someone let us know that you were here already. A nurse took you out in an incubator. You were crying. You looked cute for being a newborn. All newborns are ugly but you were not… the secret it’s in our genes, you know. My friends were calling me and texting me to tell me about all the protests out there. I was calling and texting them about your arrival. Your accidental and politically contextualized arrival. During that day, we had to sneak off to the waiting room to watch the protests on TV since my sis was breastfeeding you and she could not be disturbed with news about protests and street riots. You have seen the pictures of the day you were born and I know there are a lot of people in those pictures. But believe me when I tell you that we were expecting at least double than that; since we are a big family. Many could not make it, the protests, the streets blocked, the channel just closed, the student movement…
It’s been four years since that. You are much taller and annoying than then. You have an outrageous fixation for Spiderman. You always want to save the world, same as we wanted to do the day you were born. But we couldn’t. No one could. Still, I think that day a greater awareness of the gravity of our circumstances was settled. I’m sorry that we couldn’t do more, that we couldn’t deliver a greater country for you to be in.
But I still have hopes. I dream about the day when you read this letter. I dream that you be somewhere else different and that you will pass your existence fulfilling the desire for freedom that filled the place where you came; during those days. And most specially, in the morning of that May, 28th, 2007; when odd circumstances, casualty, luck and a lot of love brought you to the world
So, whenever you read this, wherever you are; happy birthday!
PD: You can read more stories about those days here. That post was written almost in the moment, while this one comes from my memories four years later. So any inaccuracy (if any) is given to that.