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.
Washington Post article covering yesterday’s events
BBC article about protests
Picture gallery on imgur – caution advised
Picture gallery on 9gag – caution advised
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