HAVANA TIMES — As a kid, I would sometimes sit down to watch a movie that had already started and would ask my dad who the good and bad guys were.
As a child, and even as a teenager, one tends to divide the world into the good and the bad.
My dad would usually say that there weren’t good guys or bad guys, that the thieves were the main characters and the cops were after them, that that was all…or something like that.
I feel as though I’m a character in one of those movies in Venezuela these days.
Some areas of the capital and other states have been experiencing something resembling chaos since a protest (which started out peaceful) degenerated into shootings, the burning of government buildings and cars (leaving behind dozens of wounded and 3 dead) this past February 12.
The protesters, who initially called for the release of several students who had been imprisoned in Tachira, are now saying they will not leave the streets until the president resigns. According to a neighbor who has spent several nights next to them, the National Guard has used pepper spray and rubber bullets on the protesters.
The protesters, for their part, have started fires and destroyed State and private banks. They have also damaged subway stations and forced the metro to cancel its services in some areas.
The government’s inaction, or, better, the negligible effect government measures have had in terms of reducing violence in Venezuela, is one the reasons this group of young people have taken to the streets. Many fail to understand how one can protest violence while practicing it.
Those who unconditionally support the government choose to close their eyes and say the latter isn’t being violent in the least. Those at the other extreme deny that protesters are being violent or support their violent acts. Many publish all sorts of information on social networks without first verifying it, or put up photos that weren’t even taken in Venezuela. Some extremists are asking for support from and even a direct intervention by the US government.
In the politicized media, you see the division miles away. The opposition criticizes Leopold Lopez (the leader of Voluntad Popular, “People’s Will”), who headed the march of February 12 and had disappeared from the media until this past Sunday, when he appeared in a video saying: “As is only natural, I’ve taken a few days to think and spend time with my family.” He then proposed another “peaceful” protest for February 18.
At the other end of the spectrum, in what we could call the “Left”, there is much discontent with the government’s actions. President Maduro has availed himself of the opportunity to declare that “to hold a protest in this country, you need a permit, as per the law” – something entirely contrary to the Constitution and the practices of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez.
Three people were killed on the 12th. The first two were a young protester and a leader of the Tupamaro Movement, were said to have died as a result of injuries caused by the same types of weapons.
There is a very old but accurate saying to the effect that troubled waters mean good fishing. Those who stand to benefit the most from this whole affair aren’t the general population or students (politically conscious as they may or may not be), not the workers and much less the middle class. Freedom of expression doesn’t have much to gain from it either.
The peasants and indigenous communities will continue to be the most affected by this situation, and very few people care who is silently massacring them.
Power created politics to deceive the naive.
Only the naive believe there are actually two camps.
In fact, there is only one: power. The rest are those of us who feed it.