Photo: Apunto En Linea retrieved
“And I have something else to announce,” Juan Guaidó says from the stage, and from the inflection in his voice, you know this is really something.
The plot twist is welcomed since, so far, there’s been nothing new. We’re under the sun, spirits are high, the event started late and the usual suspects gave the usual speeches. No complaints from my end, this is way better than the tear-gas-and-pellets combo that we usually got at Venezuelan demonstrations. Things have gotten a predictable, peaceful rhythm, and that’s good.
It’s been almost a month since he took on the job as the legitimate president of Venezuela, and that erosion spoken of in social media is nowhere to be found on the street. At this moment, more than 50 demonstrations are taking place throughout Venezuela. In Caracas, the Francisco de Miranda Avenue is so tight, so packed, that I can’t reach the stage from the front. I joined the demonstration somewhere around midday, and it got to a point where you could see the stage, but getting further ahead is just impossible.
This day, he’s being occasionally interrupted by people shouting “Maduro!”, getting the now obvious response.
Guaidó’s speech, although in the same tone as his previous addresses, still packs a punch to an audience that cheers wildly whenever he’s announced. This day, he’s being occasionally interrupted by people shouting “Maduro!”, getting the now obvious response. To this, Juan smiles, bides his time, even joins in with a “spontaneous” selfie. This is modern politics at its best, a guy with a natural gift for people, who makes you feel he’s like you.
But he knows also when to change the tone and get serious. And then he continues:
“Humanitarian aid is coming whether Maduro wants it or not!”
And everybody cheers.
“The usurpation is going to end whether Maduro wants it or not!”
The guy is unambiguous. His words fluctuate between calmed conversation and passionate patriotism.
“And here comes a direct order to the Armed Forces: Let the humanitarian aid get in!”
Some of what he says proves your suspicions—today, Juan announced there’s another point of entry for the help: Brazil. I’m super-duper sure that the access of humanitarian aid into Venezuela, by now, is more than set, but President Guaidó has unveiled his hand little by little. The enemy might suspect his play but has been unable to react as it used to in its glory days.
The oppo has been framing its demonstrations around relevant dates for our cultural collective. You all know how important January 23rd is in Venezuelan history, but today, February 12th, is the Día de la Juventud.
“We’re gonna need volunteers,” the caretaker president says. “We have a huge network working on this, and we’re gonna need more. Because we’ve gained so much and, on February 23rd, one month after we all took the oath, humanitarian aid will enter the nation!”
We all look at each other. Cheers go wild, fireworks boom at the distance, and you know Juan Guaidó just announced the probable key date of this whole adventure. I’m already picturing rides to these delivery points, “convoys,” as the caretaker president described it, a gazillion people in front of soldiers as the only barrier to the next day. Direct pressure to the key players, while the world observes. Bold, Mr. Guaidó, very bold.
I also can’t help but notice how the oppo has been framing its demonstrations around relevant dates for our cultural collective. You all know how important January 23rd is in Venezuelan history, but today, February 12th, is the Día de la Juventud, a commemoration for the kids who gave their lives against the absolute savagery of royalist José Tomás Boves, in 1814. Regardless of what really happened in the 19th century (and it wasn’t actually that heroic), you can hardly argue about the revolution’s effect on Venezuelan youth. Most people leaving the nation today are young, pushed into a particular type of orphanhood that, in 200 years of Republican history, was too abstract for us. And while many are still going, Bassil Da Costa, Juan Pablo Pernalete, Robert Redman, Armando Cañizalez and so many others will never get that chance, turned into martyrs of a bitter era.
“It pisses me off to no end,” Adriana tells me at the demonstration, moments after Guaidó’s speech. “I’m not leaving Venezuela because, yay, how fun it is to leave my parents alone. I’m leaving because I must. Because I’m terrified of my mother getting sick and having no meds or money to get well. It ain’t gonna be easy, but I can help more from abroad than what I’m doing here.”
Juan Guaidó challenged the dictatorship, gave a direct command to the army and reminded us of how far we’ve come, asking us to resist, porque vamos bien.
Her case is very particular: she’s going away to Chile in a few months and her papers are done: she applied for the Chilean special visa, and got it. The girl has a foot abroad and, although I know the answer in my heart, I have to ask all the same:
“So why are you here?”
She looks away, thinking briefly, her hair gently moved by the wind.
“I need to tell Diosdado that he can’t get away with it,” she says.
Chavismo has not taken this lightly. Just today, we have a missing Colombian journo in Táchira, Luis Bernardo Cano, and even if we can’t be sure the state is responsible for this (because the dude is literally missing), Foro Penal speaks of five arrests, three of them in Lara, two in Zulia, all of them sound technicians at the local protests.
There’s the notion in social media that, because Nico didn’t fall two weeks ago, this is dying down and we’re done for. That ain’t what I saw today. Juan Guaidó challenged the dictatorship, gave a direct command to the army and reminded us of how far we’ve come, asking us to resist, porque vamos bien. On February 23rd, we’ll go receive the humanitarian aid, the Armed Forces will have to make a choice, and we’ll know for a fact just how close chavismo is to losing what they promised to give us forever.
This isn’t the endgame… but we can see it from here.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.