Venezuela. A Time To Choose
To every thing there is a moment, and to every decision a time under heaven, to choose between: death and life; sickness and health; barbarism and civility; valueless and values; inhuman and human behavior; oppression and freedom; dictatorship and democracy… Paraphrasing “The Ecclesiastes”
To the rest of the world those decisions might look distant and alien, unless you practice extreme sports like proximity flying, or run red lights on highways. Nevertheless, in Venezuela, it is our daily bread. When you live withstanding the cyclonic forces of a failed narco-terrorist state, that have driven the country to one of the worst humanitarian emergencies that the Americas have ever experienced, whose top military brass are known to be part of “The Cartel of the Suns” , that counts among its closest allies, Russia, Iran, Cuba, Belarus, Turkey, Syria’s Assad, and terrorist groups like Hezbollah, and the ELN guerrillas, that clings in power regardless of the cost in human lives, that is capable of building a very efficient and full of lies propaganda machine that has seduced a global leftist movement anxious of new iconic figures, you try to survive in order to live another day. Long term planning does not exists, you stock up on food, you build networks of like minded people, and above all, you try to keep your mental sanity and to be hopefully resilient regardless of the circumstances.
That hope and resilience, and the love for life, health, civility, values, freedom, democracy and our deep, profound sense of humanity, are the drivers that make the Venezuelan people rise, again, and again, and again. It does not matter how many times we fall, we rise.
Nevertheless, there are times when you think that everything is lost, that you have fought in vain against a formidable foe, and no one is looking, no one is caring except a few unconditional friends. You feel defeated and on the brink of abandoning all hope, because you don't have the strength to raise another time, because you know that you are going to be hit again and that you will fall again. Like we felt last january, when Maduro was going to inaugurate his second 6 years presidency, that had fraudulently won in may of 2018.
Then, suddenly and unexpectedly the new President of the National Assembly, the only legally elected authority of the country, Juan Guaido, not only catalyzed the hopes of 90 % of the Venezuelan population, leaving Maduro followless except for his corrupt military brass and his suspicious allies. But was also able to built an international alliance of more than 50 countries that were willing to lend a helping hand to alleviate our humanitarian emergency. That is why we rose one more time and cried…
We are doing well, very well !!!!!
Those are not my words. They are the words of a young Venezuelan woman, whose cry might seem incongruous with the situation in which we live now, but they represent the national sentiment nevertheless.
Gaby could be my daughter, and in a sense she is, like my three sons, like all the Venezuelan youth who have witnessed their country gone to waste during 20 years of their short life span. Gaby is a psychologist, and I met her when we took the Positive Psychology specialization together.
On “Youth Day”, Feb 12th, 2014, she, together with thousands of the Venezuelan youth nationwide, took to the streets, manifesting for freedom and other basic human rights. The government’s military and paramilitary forces brutally repressed them. They, armed only with their will and courage, barricaded themselves in the main cities, sparkling nationwide protests that lasted for months. It was only after 43 people were killed, hundreds more injured by gunshots, and thousands, mostly youth, were sent to detention centers where they were systematically tortured, that the protests ceased.
Gaby had been on the line of fire all the time, giving everything but her life. that effort took its toll on her physically and psychologically. Later on, she decided to migrate, joining the more than 4 million people exodus that have gone away looking for new opportunities. Here I present her testimony about what is happening now in Venezuela.
“Today and tomorrow are very special days for my country … From the cry “Ni un paso atrás” (not one step back!) that I pronounced as the last sentence of my high school graduation speech, going through “El que se cansa pierde” (The one who gets tired loses it all) that I screamed so much in the streets, until we got to “we are doing well, very well” many things have happened …
Deep pains, irreparable losses, paralyzing fears, tears, many tears, fallen heroes, helplessness, lack, separation, despair, defeat, death, torture, frustrations, cruelty …. Joys, union, recovery of nationalist sentiment, recovery of spaces, struggle and more struggle, triumphs, commitment, dedication, passion, leaders, hope, dreams, meetings, adrenaline, courage, love and much FAITH … We have fallen a thousand times but we have risen a thousand and one times … I never imagined that I would have to fight so much and from such a young age for freedom, democracy, human rights … concepts that seemed so abstract when studying them , so given for granted …
It has been a hard, rough, painful, challenging road … sometimes it seemed like every day there was one more test … making the decision to leave my country after so much fighting was not easy and did not necessarily made things easier … It was also a path that at times gave me great emotions, strengthened me and made me regain hope … It was a path where I had the opportunity to face the human being not only at their darkest and most terrible facets, but also at their brightest and greatest.
It has been, and it is, a path of heroes, I suppose it is true that what is inherited is not stolen, after all we have the blood of the Liberator … I wish that all the heroes had arrived standing up to this moment, but some fell undeservedly on the road, leaving us a much greater responsibility to those who remain alive …
During the course of these 20 years (I am 33) I have shouted, cried, had the most intense fear you can imagine, I have embraced the streets of my land, my national anthem and my flag … I have closed streets, I have faced the military, lying down on the streets in front of tanks, listened to testimonies I will never forget, camped on highways, participated in I do not know how many initiatives, followed leaders, I voted, signed, sung, I ran, I hid, I walked and walked , protested and protested, I have said goodbye, I have written, reported, documented … I have overcome my own limitations trying to achieve a greater good … I have fled and returned … I have learned and matured … Life and Basic rights have taken on another meaning … I have learned to value, to be grateful and to hold onto FAITH …
Today when we start to smell FREEDOM, when democracy feels closer, when justice seems to want to be present … today when I decorate my soul with hope once more but with the certainty that this time it will be different … I find so many emotions inside me that I do not know how to manage them and they come out in tears at times … The emotion of feeling the beginning of the new Venezuela so close, the indescribable happiness of being so close to a new life for my relatives, the nostalgia for those who are not here anymore, the satisfaction of knowing that my grandparents will be able to see the fall of this dictatorship, the desperation for wanting to be there, living the last and possibly darker chapters of this terrible story, the fear that something might go wrong, the fear that the last lines are written with much more blood from the one already spilled … the impotence of not being there when the usurpation ceases and a whole country goes to the street to breathe the air of freedom and to shout it at the top of my lungs, how much would I give to be able to celebrate in my streets and kiss my land, my beloved Venezuela !!!!! But no matter where I am, I always carry you inside and my heart will explode in joy the moment in which we put an end to this nightmare.
Today, more than ever I proclaim myself a PROUD VENEZUELAN, with our mistakes and successes, proud to see how we are recovering the reins of the country’s pulse, with passion, intelligence, love and FAITH !!!! Thank you Venezuelans, thank you …
I do not need superheroes because I have you! We are doing well, very well !!!!!”
We are rising once more, volunteering to bring and distribute massive amounts of humanitarian aid for the millions of starving and sick people in Venezuela, particularly children, and we are being hit once more too. But there is a difference this time.
The mask of the regime has fallen down and the world is watching its true, ugly face, which is the face of death, sickness, barbarism, valuelessness, inhumanity, oppression and of a bloody dictatorship. While the citizens of this proud country have chosen the path of LIFE, HEALTH, CIVILITY, VALUES, HUMANITY, FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY.
Now the world is looking, and caring, because we, the Venezuelan people have chosen to exercise our MORAL AUTHORITY in order to get out of this nightmare once and for all.