On the signs, you could read the names and ages of those killed during the protests.
“It hurts to read that, it really does” the lady said. She was waiting in Parque Cristal with her daughter. “It could be me or her. Just to think about those moms who are now, and will remain alone – breaks my heart. My oldest daughter is in Ecuador, but we want to stay and fight for Venezuela. Those names could be our own.”
It was 5 p.m. and there weren’t too many people at the “March for the Fallen”. Most were older women who sat on the Parque Cristal stairs, waiting for the protest to pick up steam.
“I’m not sure where we’re going” one of them said. “There isn’t much information about this protest; I came because I live nearby, but I actually didn’t know.”
We want to stay and fight for Venezuela. Those names could be our own.
As it got late and more people came, the group remained small in comparison with previous protests I’d seen at this very same place back in May. There were no flags of any political party, there was no “stage truck” or sound system; this was a civil initiative with no parties involved.
“It’s sad, you know?” one guy in his 50s said, enjoying a raspadito, “people forgot about the murders, this place should be full of people supporting the young men who died for our freedom. Da arrechera, who cares about a regional election if the Government is not afraid to kill us for speaking our mind?”
The guys with the commemorative signs moved along and you could read the words. “Each life counts; 500 political prisoners”. This was the first protest in Caracas since the election of the Constituyente, a month ago. It has been a while since I heard those words aloud.
And then the mood changed and tears appeared. The names of those killed were read, repeated in unison.
“Amen” – a lady said after almost 200 victims.
We made a huge mistake and it feels like all the effort is lost. But I don’t believe that.
The reason why we were there was felt on our skin, behind our eyes, in our voices. We mourned, slowly walking with heavy hearts, to Chacao’s Plaza Bolívar. While some prayed, others shouted angry for justice.
It felt like a yell for a better tomorrow, it tasted of hope refusing to die. We read poems about freedom and fighting the good fight. Some knew the fallen on a first name basis, others contributed with water or food. No one knew why the fighting stopped.
“If we were still on the streets, sería otra la cosa” said one of the ladies. “We made a huge mistake and it feels like all the effort is lost. But I don’t believe that. I refuse to accept that.”
In the background, a woman sang “Lucero de la mañana, préstame tu claridad; para alumbrarle los pasos, a mis hijos que se van”.