(Part II) Passing by Altamira

On the other side of the square I stood over a tiny roof to watch the colonel Soto speech, in the very first political demonstration that I attend to; I think, just two months before April 11 – 2002. I haven’t heard of the man who made me jump to the streets for the very first time in quite a long time.It was a normal day like no other, in that time the Revolution had done many crazy things already; but my family’s major frustration was that the people around us were still agreeing with the president and they didn’t notice the danger of his measures. It was too early to notice anything; it was still another Venezuela indeed, a blinder one, a more naïve one.
Then something happened, in the middle of some congress, a Coronel called Jesús Soto started talking bad about the government. I wish I could just remember what he said, I remember there were words of democracy and even the weird request, considering he was part of the military, of asking for a civilian to be the next president of Venezuela. I remember the feeling a little bit better: no one ever dared before to talk like that against this government, even less (and this was the most important part) someone from the military.
The government immediately ordered to put him in jail I think, and my mom and I watched on TV a very unusual image for that time: some people were stopping their cars at the exit of a main highway of Caracas “If they put the Coronel Soto in jail, they will have to put me as well” – A man screamed. “And me too!” – Heard another scream in the back.
Soto was going to speak to the citizens in Altamira square that night (means, right away), as the TV host announced. My mom and I looked to ourselves like we always do, like we did some months after on April 11: “Should we go?” – “Let’s go” – I said.
We didn’t expect to see loads of people filling the streets right next to Altamira square. It was a stupid number of people if you compare it with the demonstration we got used to afterwards. We encountered many friends doing the same. Then, over a truck that served as a platform with some improvised microphone, a very confused Jesús Soto gave a speech. I couldn’t tell if he had that face because he was obviously almost falling off the truck or if it was because he did not expected to cause such a mess. I don’t remember his speech. I do remember a speech of the vice president for that time I think, José Vicente Rangel saying that the whole demonstration was totally planned with a lot of anticipation. I thought, that was a little bit weird to conceive a very well planned demonstration were the main leader was almost falling off an ugly truck.
I remember it as the day the politics started running through my veins in a way it wasn’t going to stop for several years, and in that way was a happy day. I remember it also as the day where our fight started, and the country developed a very rough political crisis and in that way was a sad day. That day was also the first time that a current idea passed without stopping in my still young and naïve (everyday less) mind: “The government does not always tell the truth”. My political birth, the fight origins, and my first big lesson about the Revolution, all in one day.
Note about the picture: That’s not Colonel’ Soto, it is just a photo of a random soldier that I digitally distort it to illustrate this entry.