Why Venezuela is not Egypt? Nor Libya?

A reader asked me a few days ago to explain why he haven't seen anything like Egypt or Libya happening in Venezuela - Did he missed any news? - No, he missed none. Outside a worrying number of hunger strikers making different demands; this sort of "democratic virus" has not yet reached this side of the world. But why? To be honest, I don't have a clue. And I don't think anyone can honestly answer your question. Let me elaborate...

I could take the easy route, and just tell you that one thing is North of Africa and a whole different thing is Venezuela. However, once I followed all the events, specially those in Egypt; I did not felt a cultural difference between those protesters and myself. We have the same aspirations: freedom, democracy, civil rights. And we have even used similar methods to achieve such aspirations; including taking advantage of social networks. Only difference is that at least Egypt' methods have proven to be effective while ours not so much; but that's material for another post.

I won't speak from a theoretical point of view. I have read enough material on social movements and protesters motivations and so on. But this blog is not the place to get "too complicated". Plus, in this case I think nothing speaks clearer to me than my experience.

By "my experience" I mean the numerous protests, demonstrations, marches etc that I have witnessed here in Venezuela in the past nine years (at least). I have also had the opportunity to take a close look to the organization of some of them; how they are carefully - or not - executed. Others, seemed to me, were completely spontaneous.

In either case, what my experience tells me about the likeness an event has to become massive or not, about the circumstances in which a protests erupts, about what can turn a simple protest into a worldwide revolution is this: nothing. I mean N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

This is a reoccurring thought of mine: the fact that we, Venezuelans - and probably others- let pass many important events and then protest about other without any apparent sense.

For example: in 2005-2006 there were two cases of violent deaths that gained media and public' attention (there are so many violent deaths in Venezuela that unfortunately, most get no attention at all). The first was the killing of three - if I remember correctly - university students who were giving a classmate a ride home and they were killed "just because" they entered that neighborhood at night. The second, was the kidnap and killing of three brothers and their bodyguard; none of the brothers was old enough to be in the university. Guess which case caused a major university students demonstration that included blocking the main Caracas' highway? Guess which case make them later organize to make more massive protests demanding more personal security and respect to life? ... You guessed wrong. It was not the first but the second case what history will record as the circumstance under a massive student movement was born in Venezuela... Go figure...

Of course, both cases were serious enough to cause a social response. But why when those fellow university students were killed so horribly, we did nothing beyond talking at the cafeteria about it? Why we protested over Faddoul brothers but stayed silent when the students were killed? - Like I said, nothing. No clue.

A big series of protests erupted when the government shut down a popular TV Channel. But nothing slightly similar happened when we ran out of milk or when the IVA was raised etc etc etc... I could go on and on quoting examples.

We know it is always about a chain reaction. One guy burns himself and... you know the rest. It is always unexpected. Did someone predicted Egypt? Someone? Anyone? (If you know about someone, let me know in the comments section, I'm very interested). Revolutions are less a matter of causes and ideals than they are about opportunities. Go check your history books and you will find the same patron I have lived: One person has an idea or more often, do something unaware of its consequences. In Venezuela' case, with media now as restricted as it is; you are more likely to receive a Facebook invite, a text message or a Tweet than to see it on TV. The message is always the same: just a few words indicating time, place and reason. Sometimes it is an official call from political parties. Sometimes we are unaware of who's behind it. Sometimes is some news we get, some voice on the radio that makes us go to the usual place we gather for protest to see if there is anyone there. Sometimes there is no soul to be found. Some others there are dozens.

There are some days, when I have heard really bad news, a crazy government decision, a very serious event; that I go to my balcony and play a cacerola (kitchen pot) just because. One minute after I realize no one else is playing, I make a speech about people' apathy and save my kitchen pot with sorrow. But other times I'm surprised by the sound of a strong cacerolazo in my neighborhood and I don't even feel like taking part in it.

No one knows when a massive protest or movement will come. The circumstances are all there: shortages, economical crisis, high taxes, Human Rights being violated in all possible ways, political freedom restricted, threats, personal insecurity, impunity... All reasons for us to express the same Egyptians did are there; under the surface; waiting for a moment to come out. And that moment could come or not. Societies are unpredictable and in these matters, even more.

I know you were seeking for a more satisfying explanation; but that wouldn't be honest. All I can say is that I - and many people - have the impression that is not always knowledge and wisdom the result of education and experience; but a greater awareness of an insuperable ignorance.