On students protests and the Venezuelan English blogosphere

I wish I could have posted this sooner, but I’m unable to post anything while I’m at work. This morning I was able to accompany, briefly, a students’ demonstration that parted from Altamira with the intention of going to the Chancellery. Once in Chacao – less than one metro station away – they were forced to change their route and thus decided to go to the OAS office located in Las Mercedes. State Institutions only hear the claims of the Bolivarian Revolution supporters, if they actually hear any claim. As for the rest of Venezuelans, its doors are closed. If Venezuelans want to protest against the Revolution, they have no choice but to do it away from those institutions of which they should expect an answer to their queries.

The demonstration was in support of another group of students, who were in hunger strike at the OAS office, three embassies and 10 Venezuelan states. The strikers were demanding the OAS’ Human Rights commission to visit the country and evaluate our situation, especially concerning political prisoners. The students in Caracas were supported by students in other Venezuelan cities. This hunger strike lasted 18 days and more than 80 students joined it. A few hours after the demonstration, they suspended the strike claiming the goals were already achieved. I don't think their goals have been achieved at all (I will discuss this later), but for the sake of their health, I'm glad they suspended it. You can see pictures of students cheering after concluding the strike here

Luckily, when I encountered the march, I was carrying my hand camera. I have uploaded a brief video so you can see the mood of the protest. I felt the protesters were both angry and determined to do something. After all, a hunger strike is no joke. When the protest reached the highway, I had to abandon it and take a bus back to work. Here is the video:

The government’ response, at least until today, has been nothing but disappointing. From ministers declaring that students in hunger strike actually sneak out and eat without been seen; to government supporters cooking a barbecue in front of the strikers.

I have avoided talking about this issue because it is a very sensitive and controversial one. Hunger strike is one of the most extreme ways of protest available and it should be the last resource. Hunger strike is not a march, a demonstration, a cacerolazo, a blog or a letter… is an extreme measure which compromises your body. Hunger strikes always makes irreversible damages to your body. I see these students, hardly older than 21, just starting their lives and whom already face, as a result of this hunger strike, health issues that will hunt them for the rest of their lives; despite of the results of the protest. This is no joke and I’m extremely concerned about their health. It is unfair that Venezuelans feel forced to reoccur to such extreme ways to protest in order to be heard. And as Franklin Brito’ case has proven, is a measure far from being effective.

Those students shouldn’t be in hunger strike. They should be dancing, dating, and enjoying the rest of their youth which will not last long. Over all, they should be studying. They should have the right to live a normal life. But that’s a right no one from my generation and the generations that follow has enjoyed.

On a different topic, today I was informed that English Venezuelan blogger’ Miguel, has left the country. He will only make sporadic visits now but his permanent residence will be established somewhere else. If I’m not mistaken he was the first and remains to be one of the most prominent and respected Venezuelan English blogger. The other one is Daniel; who wrote a long post on Miguel’ departure and his concerns for being the only English Venezuelan blogger left in the country.It is painful to see that every day, someone you know - online or not - leaves the country for good.

As for Daniel' post, if you ask, he probably did not mentioned me because:

a) my blog’ style strongly differs from both Miguel’ and Daniel’. Their blogs are intended to be sources of information and smart commentary on Venezuelan situation. Thus they eagerly cover all topics. When I decided to start an English blog, I noticed that all topics were pretty much covered. Plus I lacked of the English knowledge and the experience Miguel – Daniel duo has. That’s why I developed this blog as a chronicle of a life inside the Venezuelan Revolution instead of working as a citizen reporter. With Miguel’ outside this country, I will have change this blog’ approach a little, to cover some topics and events he will no longer be able to. But I won’t publish a word on most economical issues because I simply don’t have the expertise to do such a thing.

b) I have been an inconstant blogger. I do not publish frequently (it was never my intention to do that) and out of fear, I have closed this blog two times. As a result, I’m probably not as trusted as other bloggers and this is a legitimate feeling. I will try to publish more frequently and to avoid the fears of the consequences of my writings. But unlike most politicians here, I don’t feel I can make empty promises.

c)My English is not good. Let’s face it, it isn’t. I already told you under what circumstances I learned this language and continue learning. I fear sometimes not being properly understood or to not be able to explain you things because of my language limitations. A limited English probably influx this blog’ quality, I have no doubts about it.

Either way, If we are able to, we’ll have to support each other in the dark days to come. I also extend this invitation to frequent commenters and unknown readers out there: specially if you live in Venezuela and want to start your own English’ blog, please do it; you are very much needed. I will give you any support/advice/ etc required to start this task. Venezuelan situation requires more than two English bloggers writing from the ground.