Yesterday, on my way home from the protest, as I crossed the Sabana Grande boulevard alongside a sea of people returning from the rally, I stopped to buy a loose cigarette from a girl with a telephone rental stand. She must have been 20 years old or so, short with big dark eyes and dressed all in black. The case she sold cigs out of was scribbled all over with “Fuck You” signs (yes, in English!) — not the friendliest of vibes.
I was mugged here not five minutes ago.
“Careful with that cellphone, buddy” is the first thing she says when she sees me reaching for the lighter. “I was mugged here not five minutes ago. A miserable son of a b**** took my rental phone, which happens to be my only one. And that poor old Blackberry was more dead than alive! Not even the screen worked.”
She vented for a little while while I was sitting next to her and the crowds of people in white shirts and Venezuela hats grew thicker. While everybody was on a democratic tour the force, she’d become just another victim of crime. She didn’t have much time for the cheerful spirit of the protest.
I asked her what she thought about the protests and the opposition’s movement to bring political change.
Don’t even get me started on that! I hate protest days. I’m living in Baruta, so every time they go to the highway to protest I end up being late to work, so I make less money to bring home. And what’s the point of all of this? I feel like they’re just being counterproductive as far as our well being goes. One protest after another and no results for us. I still have no soap, no shampoo, no sugar in my home. And now my livelihood is gone…
I was puzzled and a bit dissapointed, but I get it. There’s been plenty of reasons to be dissapointed about the MUD. The recent PR blunders, the dialogue-not-dialogue drama and the lack of concrete progress towards their goal of political change this year.
I found myself standing there proselytizing my buhonera.
Nonetheless, I found myself standing there proselytizing my buhonera, trying to convince her about of something I’d come to believe myself just minutes earlier: this time is different. There’s a sense of popular support for political change reaching critical mass; that was the spirit of yesterday’s call for a General Strike this Friday, and a march towards Miraflores for next Thursday.
I think you understand that, in order for the country to turn around, we need a change in government. And for this change to be durable, it needs to come peacefully and within the law. I know the way MUD is handling the situation is frustrating, but they are slow and steady getting there. Let’s hope for the best.
She felt better after this, her eyes even sparkled with optimism for a moment. I told her to be safe and that karma will take care of the miserable thug that robbed her, and to the thugs robbing our country as well.
My last words came out of a strange well of enthusiasm springing from the good vibes of a massive rally. I thought back, and worried: I know I’ve felt this way before…2012, 2014, and early 2016.
So please, MUD, Don’t let me down. Just don’t let us down.