The Day Chavismo Froze

The rally that saw Juan Guaidó claim the presidency today was one of the strangest events of the last 20 years. The regime. Just. Froze. And history was in the air.

Photo: Infobae retrieved

At around noon, we met a line of National Police officers. Black outfits, helmets, hard shields, full riot gear. Only, they weren’t blocking the way. They just stood to the side. Nobody from the rally tried to explain the virtues of democracy to them. They looked bored. The pepper-and-vinegar smell we are so used to at these marches was there, just not where it mattered, and certainly not on our way.

It’s like a play you know, only all the words are different. The bullies were there, the sun was scorching, people shouted mottos, and we were expecting the march to stop and hear the booming thuds of tear-gas canisters in the distance, because that’s how it always is moments before everything goes apeshit.

But no.

We walked, everyone was cheerful, selfies here, songs there, grandpas going about with their canes, grandmas talking casually about day-to-day stuff. We reached the meeting point without a hint of trouble. The last thing we would have  expected.

And then we saw history happen.

How would you feel if, after 20 years of chavismo, you heard a young politician taking an oath as new President of Venezuela?

In your fantasies about that scene, it’s like Spielberg is directing. The dramatic moment when all the right words come out just right and you raise your chin towards the sun with a hand on your heart.

People, for the first time in years, spoke about the future as they marched. Photos: Víctor Drax.

Reality isn’t like that. Thousands —more than we had seen in any 2014 or 2017 protest— cheered, others cried, some sang, some shouted hymns. It was hard to make sense of.

It all came to a head with a simple oath: “Juro asumir formalmente las competencias del ejecutivo nacional”. It wasn’t unexpected, yet the moment he said it, it was impossible not to shed a tear while hearing the words followed by the national anthem.

It was impossible not to think about how hard we have fought, how low we have sunk, and how much we have grown to get to this point.

The crowd was packed tight. Some people joked, some folks chanted slogans, a few girls confessed their undying love for the Caretaker President. While Juan was talking. It made it hard to hear him, and sometimes you knew something important was said just because of the applause. A.V., it must be said, isn’t the opposition’s strongsuit.

“I didn’t think he’d do it,” you’d hear.

“You see, how the oath matters?”

“Preeeesidente!” clap-clap-clap, “Preeeesidente!”

We’re into uncharted territory. You could feel it.

And then the strangest bit.

We went home in peace.

Victor Cuotto

Victor usually writes about geek culture and punk music. In 2015, he won the Concurso Venezolano de Literatura Fantástica & Ciencia Ficción SOLSTICIOS. He thinks Magneto makes some valid points.