The Meaning of Freedom

Para leer este articulo en espanol, favor click aqui.

Yesterday was another day of violence and chaos in the streets of my country. What started as a peaceful protest organized and led by students erupted into unspeakable horror at the hands of the government. At least one 20-year-old student was confirmed dead, shot in the back by police as he was running from bullets. The blurry video of his murder will haunt my dreams for years to come.

Not long after the violence started, the entire country went into a media blackout, removing the only channel covering the news from Venezuelan cable. There was no way to get information out and no way to ensure the safety of innocent civilians as gunmen and robbers took to the streets.

Several family members attended the protest, including my youngest cousin who continued to send us pictures and videos of the march as it went through our capital. Luckily, they left before the chaos began. I can’t help thinking how many others weren’t so blessed.

Brutally murdered in the streets of your own homeland, for fighting for basic human liberties. For the freedom of speech, press, education. For the right to live without fear. A right no one should ever have to fight for, let alone die for.

Every new message and update from my family deepened my helplessness and frustration. I hated what was happening, and in a weird awful way, I hated my privilege.

I’ve lived in the United States almost my whole life. I have benefitted from rights so many people take for granted. I can choose what and where I want to study. I have a voice in a democratic government. I have the freedom to rant and rave about it if their actions make me mad. I can be proud of those who serve. Here, our soldiers are heroes. In Venezuela, our soldiers are criminals.

In Venezuela, students are arrested and beaten for practicing their constitutional right of peaceful assembly. The government sends unmarked police with guns to “control” non-violent situations. And then they blackout all media and communication to suppress the uprisings.

FRIENDS. THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN.

It is imperative that we continue to spread awareness. The protests are continuing today but there is a detrimental lack of communication. They are DEPENDING on us to alert the world. We have freedom, we have words. THIS IS THE TIME TO USE THEM.

These protests are led by students and young people dreaming and fighting for a better country. People who love Venezuela enough to put their lives on the line. Please. Don’t let this be in vain.

These deaths could have easily been my friends and family. In another life, they could have just as easily been me.

To anyone reading this: I ask you, I beg you. Do not abandon my country. Help us fight back.

The way things are going right now, it won’t be long until a civil war erupts. And after 15 years of fighting and no change, who knows what good it will do. The poison of hatred has infected a beautiful place for too long.

There is so much of my home I do not know, so many places I have not visited, so many stories intertwined in the lives of my parents and their childhoods that I have yet to experience.

Yet through all the horror, I have learned the power of resilience. I have learned what’s worth fighting for. I have learned to appreciate my life as a citizen of the United States. I have learned what it really means to be free.

Most of all, I have discovered the fire that tirelessly burns in the hearts of every Venezuelan — la esperanza.

So bring it on. Because no amount of oppression will ever extinguish that flame.

Pa’lante Venezuela. Yo estoy contigo.

MORE INFORMATION:
Washington Post article covering yesterday’s events
BBC article about protests
Picture gallery on imgur – caution advised
Picture gallery on 9gag – caution advised
Follow me on twitter – updates directly from family and friends
Search hashtags #FreeVenezuela #SOSVenezuela #PrayforVenezuela #VenezuelaIsFighting

UPDATE 2/13/14:
Human Rights Watch is officially calling for an investigation into Venezuela!

UPDATE 2/17/14:
CNN reports on expulsion of 3 US officials and Leopoldo’s video message

 

 

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11 responses to “The Meaning of Freedom

  1. Soy cubana y siento tu pesar y el de todos los venezolanos, y siento pena de mi que nunca tuve el valor cuando fui joven de hacer lo que hoy esos maravillosos jovenes hacen hoy para evitar lo que hoy mi pais padece por no decir NO a la falta de libertad!! Dios los bendiga a todos y mis pensamientos y energias estan con ellos.

  2. Hola Dany. Gracias por tus palabras y hermosa intención de apoyo. Todas hacen falta para generan los ya tan necesarios cambios. Por eso te invito q que consideres difundir la idea de a una tercera alternativa que empieza a hacerse cada día más clara: acciones y gestiones pacíficas. Nuestro cambio No tiene que ser violento, mucho menos alcanzarlo con una guerra civil. Si queremos cambio, empecemos por modelar lo que deseamos: un cambio pacífico e integrador, para que quepamos todos y no muera otro joven en acciones violentas (desafortunadamente, fueron tres jóvenes asesinados el 12F). Vaya mi respeto por tu trabajo y bendiciones para ti y tu familia. Hello Dany. Thanks for your words and willingness to support us. all These efforts are needed in order to achieve our much needed change. This is why invite you to consider writing about a third alternative, which each day is becoming clearer: peaceful actions and strategies. The alternative to our current situation, does not need to be violent, least of all a civil war. If we want a change to occur, let us be models of what we want: a pacific and comprehemsive change, so we all can belong here and not another young person dies in violents actions (unfortunately, three young men were murdered on 12F). Blessings for you and your family

    • Hola Tamara, mil gracias por tu comentario. Yo igual pienso que difundir la idea de esfuerzos pacíficos es super importante. Es lo que sigue diciendo Capriles y yo estoy de acuerdo. Pero cuando la Guardia les viene con pistolas y bombas, imposible pretender que los estudiantes se lo van a calar. La situación es horrible y complicada. Lo ultimo que yo quiero es un guerra civil, pero mira estas protestas eran pacificas y los que les paso. Yo estoy full acuerdo contigo de la importancia de difundir un mensaje pacifico e integrador. Ojalá cera suficiente. Otra vez, gracias por tu comentario, tu apoyo, y tus palabras de solidaridad.

  3. Hola Dany: apenas nos conocemos, soy Kiko, Tío por elección de Chucho y Adriana, la distancia y la emigración de tus padres Isabel y Jorge a los cuales quiero muchísimo, no nos ha permitido que nos conozcamos mejor.

    Excelente artículo, la traducción de Chucho es impecable, quiero expresarte que ese escrito refleja asertivamente lo que está sucediendo en Venezuela, “Tú única Patria” aunque seas ciudadana Norteamericana.

    Es super importante que en este momento y en los años por venir las voces de nuestros hijos se levanten, vivan aquí o vivan allá, estamos ya desde hace años empeñados en esta lucha, muy desigual, muy cuesta arriba… pero que no estamos dispuestos cientos de miles, por no decir millones de venezolanos a tirar la toalla y menos aún a dejarle este país a los rojos malandros que nos gobiernan y nos tienen oprimidos.

    Felicito tu iniciativa, pero te pido que no se quede en un artículo, te pido que no nos abandones, que nos acompañes en está pelea por recuperar este hermoso país, para nuestro caso es una lucha cotidiana, intensa, sostenida, comprometida.

    Todos los días debes preguntarte: “Que puedo hacer YO hoy por la democracia de mi país” y actúa, el papel que juegan (lo que nosotros hemos llamado los VENEX Venezolanos en el Exterior) es fundamental, el soporte y la solidaridad de ustedes es muy importante.

    Seguiremos hablando, un beso muy cariñoso y un abrazo

    Kiko

    • Hola Kiko, mil gracias por tu apoyo y tus palabras. Chucho me dijo que vas a publicar este post en tu blog traducido en espanol. Yo quiero hacer todo posible para ayudarlos. Aqui en Boston estamos organizando protestas pacificas y otros eventos para regar la voz y ademas estamos empezando peticiones y llamar a representativos del gobierno para informarles y urgirles que tomen acción. Cualquier cosa que necesitan, me dicen. Saludos y besos a todos. Cuidense!

  4. Pingback: The Power of Freedom | Mel Takes Boston·

  5. Pingback: Venezuela: Then & Now | dany vasquez·

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