Venezuela, An Open Letter From My Broken Country

15 de febrero de 2014
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Bolivar Desnudo via Yohan Arroyave

I’m a daughter, I’m a sister, I’m a friend, I’ve been loved, I have loved, I’m a student, I am Venezuelan. From all the things I am, the last one is the most important right now. Why? Because I am 22 years old and I’ve only seen one administration. I’ve seen two presidents, two because the first one passed. Is this democracy? I live in one of the richest country in the world, Venezuela, but somehow we are unable to produce food, so we are starving, we stand in lines of 2 hours for two kilos of flour, we don’t have toilet paper among other basic needs. But this is a democratic, successful government?

I live in a country where the president insults me for not following his political ideology, where I risk my life whenever I leave my house. We have 200,000 people dead from the past 14, almost 15, years. Almost 15 years of this, but sure, this is a democratic government. We are an oil country in debt; we are a poor little rich country. We have an inflation rate of more than 56% this high rate is in part because of severe currency controls that have limited imports and exacerbated shortages from newsprint to car parts and ceremonial wine to celebrate Mass. We are drowning. The money the average Venezuelan makes every 30 days isn’t enough to meet monthly requirements, essentials to live.

We are the one of the most dangerous countries in the world. I’ve had family members kidnapped, me and my friends have been robbed so many times we stopped keeping count.

As I say, I’m young and I’m a student, whenever I think about my future I feel scared and wonder if the only solution is leaving.

On February 12th, students decided to take the streets all over the country in order to do a peaceful protest; it is our CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT after all. It started peacefully, but ended in massacre. Three people died, among them, students who were only exercising their rights. Many students were imprisoned and others are missing, leaving the rest of us scared but not of guns, or tear gas, or shotgun fire the government keeps throwing our way, we are scared to keep living this way. So, for the past four days the streets became our home, the person next to you became your family and we all protected each other. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the idea that three students around my age are dead for expressing their dissatisfaction with the current situation. I’ve been trying to understand how we got here, Venezuelans killing Venezuelans. I don’t have an answer and I don’t understand, and I never will.

When all the shooting was happening and the chaos took over, the government censored ALL means of communication leaving the country in a media blackout. The only way to inform the rest of the world and others in the country what was happening, what is happening, is through the social media and internet. Twitter confirmed that the images of the opposition protests were blocked on their platform.

Over the years I’ve heard and I’ve seen what this government has done to the image of Simon Bolívar, our liberator, I find it completely unpleasant to say the least, and I have a statement: You idolize his figure so much but I don’t see your hands shaking when you shoot civilians, Venezuelans, UNARMED Venezuelans. It was Bolívar who said “Maldito el soldado que empuñe su arma contra su pueblo” translation: “Cursed is the soldier who wields his gun against his people.” A government that shoots its youth, is killing its future.

Venezuela is a beautiful country, with beautiful people, ALL Venezuelans. There’s space for all of us here. We are warm, kind, we greet each other with a kiss and hug even if we don’t know you, we will work any kind of job, we are happy and yes, loud. Since we are loud, we are willing to make some noise.

This is, sadly, the oldest story in the world. Dictatorship is known in many countries, recently we’ve seen countries fighting against it, I’m with you, heart and soul and now I reach for your help, please help us spread the news, if someone asks you what’s happening in Venezuela then  answer with this: “We won’t live in a dictatorship, this isn’t Cuba. El Bravo Pueblo is wide awake, acting, not going home and fighting back, we are the next generation and we won’t settle.” TC mark

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