Three years ago, security officers of Nicolás Maduro’s government shot at young unarmed protesters in the streets of Caracas. Bassil Da Costa died there. The culprits were protected for a while. Ultimately, after a long trial, only two people were sentenced (although it’s not clear where and how they’re serving their sentences). They were Secret Police agents and their superiors were never tried. They took orders from then-Interior minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres, who was responsible for repression throughout 2014.
One of the persons who carried Bassil’s body was Robert Redman. He appears in the pictures. He posted everything on Twitter. That same night he was in Altamira when some hooded motorizados arrived and shot him. He was also murdered on that same February 12th. His death remains unpunished.
Juancho Montoya was the third casualty of 12F. He was the chavista leader of a colectivo (paramilitary armed group) from 23 de Enero. The government made a propaganda stunt about him; they staged an official funeral broadcast by VTV. Who killed him? His own partner from the colectivo. Point blank. He wanted Montoya’s place and he took the shot while downtown Caracas was mayhem. Later, that same guy appeared on TV saying that “The Right” had killed Juancho. The regime blamed Leopoldo López and the students, and they criminalized any further protests.
2014 happened, among other things, because young people sensed the coming disaster. That year, they were already certain that their future had been taken from them, that work was losing value (it was obvious, judging by their parents’ wages,) that scarcity was kicking in and life plans were shattered by the Plan de la Patria, cursing us to stand in line and beg the regime for everything, from food to a house. That year, many hopes were shot to death; that year, charisma was replaced by lead, and the oil money flowed to keep the revolution’s charade alive.
Those two students were protesting because they thought they had little else to lose, and the government took their lives. Another six people, such as Marco Coello, were arrested and tortured.
Three years later, we’ve aged at least a decade. Our wounds run deeper. The reasons we had for protesting in 2014 are nothing compared to our current depression. But we don’t protest like we did back then. If they ask you why Venezuelans haven’t exploded yet, Maduro and his cronies can answer that for you: a bullet to the head.