After more than 120 days in the streets, the Venezuelan opposition continues to fight for freedom and democracy. In the past four months, the number of Venezuelans murdered by the government´s orders exceeds 100, there are more than 400 political detainees, and 3,000 arrested and almost 1,500 injured people.
Currently, Venezuela is suffering the worst crisis in its history. There is no food, no medicine and no education. Children are dying of hunger, and the widespread impoverishment of the country is affecting every part of it. Caracas is the most violent city in the world, with the highest homicide rate.
As Venezuelan, I have no idea what is like to live in complete freedom. The year before I was born (1999), Hugo Chavez started his first presidential term. Since then, the media has been censored, freedom of expression has been punished, insecurity has increased daily and living with comforts has become more and more difficult.
His government lasted until 2013, because of his death, and Nicolas Maduro was chosen as his successor after what many people consider fraudulent elections. Since that moment, the opportunities of improving Venezuelans’ quality of life have not only worsened, but become almost impossible.
Although there have been many uprisings by the opposition in the past 18 years, none of them had the strength of these 120 days of protests. Mr. Maduro has called an assembly for the drafting of a new Constitution -to strengthen his dictatorship- and protests have become more violent. In these months going to the streets looks like a war: young people behind shields trying to protect themselves from the military guards of the Guardia Nacional Bolivariana (Bolivarian National Guard), until they attack civilians with tear gas, strong water cannons blasts, rubber bullets and buckshot.
The opposition called popular elections and they were held on July 16. The voters had to choose between three yes or no questions to clarify: whether citizens approved or not the constitutional assembly, whether they demand or not the National Guard, whether other public officials defend the actual Constitution, and whether they wanted elections to pick a new National Unity Government. The response to this call was historic. More than 7 million Venezuelans voted in the tw-week plebiscite, with 5 times fewer places for voting and 30,000 fewer polling stations. We got more votes than Nicolas Maduro in 2013.
Nowadays, after everything that happened, there is no fear anymore. People are not only fighting for liberty and the Constitution´s respect, but also for food, health services, security, education and quality of life. As Neomar Lander, a 17-year-old teenager murdered in protests, said ¨The fight of few, is worth the future of many.¨
Due to the current situation of the country, everyone is trying to help the way they can. Medical students have created medical assistance and first aid groups for the protests, journalists and photographers are dedicated to reporting without fear of punishment, people are making food to distribute in the streets, and the youth is studying to prepare themselves for Venezuela´s future. Nevertheless, plenty of people have migrated in search of better opportunities and the Nacional Airport has become a place for goodbyes.
Over the years, Venezuelans had to see how our country is destroyed. We have said goodbye to our friends and family. We have left behind a country that has given us everything: beautiful landscapes, delicious food, unique experiences and amazing people. I still have hope that together in some years we will be able to rebuild the Venezuela we dream of; that the same airport that today lets thousands of Venezuelans go, will see them come back; and that all the people who have suffered, hopefully will have a smile on their faces.