Opinion and Analysis: Social Movements
We are with Chavez: The Take-Over of Caracas
We were called on to come to Caracas to close what had been a long, exhausting and intense campaign. Chavez had asked us for 7 avenues; he had said that he wanted us to fill 7 avenues for the end of the campaign rally.
Being involved in this historical political process, we are clear that our lives are at stake, and so we mobilised. There were thousands, hundreds of thousands of us, on the country’s freeways; the majority of us in buses, many buses, and others in their own vehicles and motorbikes. We didn’t come to annoy anyone, but without intending to we still did. We brought Caracas to a standstill.
Caracas, which itself is usually chaotic, overflowed yesterday. The mobilisation of the people of Caracas and our arrival were the factors that unleashed that chaos; but we also had a mission to fill 7 avenues and we were going to complete it. No matter what happened, we weren’t going to let Chavez down, because that would be letting ourselves down.
We must admit, as all of those who were there have said, that we never thought that we would be the protagonists of an event as amazing as October 4th. Anyone who wasn’t actually there and only saw the images on TV perhaps won’t understand the magnitude of what happened yesterday in Caracas, they might even think that yesterday never happened, if that’s the way the private media decide to go; but it did happen and it was monumental, it was wonderful, and many of us were there to be able to tell the story.
The sun was merciless, and that was a sign of what was to come. All of us who live in the tropics know that when the sun is as hot as it was yesterday, it’s because a huge rainstorm is coming. And that is exactly what happened; a huge deluge of torrential rain fell on us. The old people are saying that it was San Francisco* and his great chord belt that did it, but I’m an atheist and I don’t know anything about that. What I do know, and what everyone who was there knows, is that it rained huge, immense raindrops and that the sky opened up over those of us who made up that sea of people yesterday. I remembered the phrase coined by (Venezuelan revolutionary singer-songwriter with the group “Nosotros con Chavez/We are with Chavez”) Gino (Gonzales) “alone we are just a drop, but together we are the downpour”. Even the weather conspired in our favour.
And then the man came out and he submerged himself in the rain, just like us; we were there, the rain, us, and Chavez. I can’t deny that it was emotional; people laughed or cried with the same intensity. It wasn’t just the rain that overflowed, but millions of feelings.
The man left. We were quite far away from the main stage, but we managed to see everything on the screen. He had already spoken, but the hundreds of people still emerging from the Bellas Artes metro station hadn’t found that out. The people kept coming and the rain kept falling.
And then something happened that made your spine tingle. Along with the rain came bursts of thunder, cracking violently. But the people didn’t bat an eyelid, instead they answered the thunder back, all together and with a cry that made the sky fall silent. It thundered again, and again the people responded, and it was a loud response, a deep cry; I don’t know if it was from anger or happiness, but the people were in rebellion. It was like they were saying to the famous Francis d’Assisi, “Sir, you can rain, thunder, or make the lighting crash, but we aren’t going anywhere, we came and we are staying”.
Having accomplished our mission, we set about returning home via los Caobos Park. The metro had been brought to a standstill, so we decided to walk to the station at Ciudad Universitaria about 3km from where we were on Bolivar Avenue, supposing that the “red tide” would have subsided somewhat there. Then we discovered that it hadn’t. This tsunami covered all of Caracas, or at least the west of the city. Whilst we crossed los Caobos park with thousands of other people, we were ambushed by a group of Caracas football supporters who shouted “anyone who doesn’t jump is a MAJUNCHE*”. We couldn’t allow them to call us that, so we started to jump, we all jumped, even the fountain’s statues, even the trees and the raindrops, which just for a moment flew back up towards the sky that had cast them out. “Whoever doesn’t jump is a majunche,” they kept saying, and we jumped even harder.
We managed to make our way out of the ambush, negotiating our way around the flooded park, and arriving at Colon Boulevard, which was full of people and buses waiting for their passengers so they could return home; and there were thousands of buses. Like an anonymous guy next to me said, “Chavez didn’t need to visit Caracas, Venezuela came to visit him, and they don’t expect us to do it on foot”.
We carried on walking and we crossed the cemetery that is known as the Central University of Venezuela. Like all cemeteries it is dark, and wherever you look there are shadows living in that horrible place, which is destined to disappear in the society that is to come.
Finally we got to the Ciudad Universitaria metro station, only to find that the sea of red wasn’t just overland, but underground too. We were moving even beneath the veins of the city, the metro had been brought to a halt. We managed to get onto a wagon that would take us to Coche station where we would supposedly find our transport; by our sides there were Chavistas everywhere, who looked at you with their eyes and with the eyes of Chavez on their t-shirts, all laughing, and maybe the odd serious face that belonged to a person returning home from work, or who on Sunday would vote for Capriles and couldn’t possibly understand where so many Chavistas had come from.
A drunk guy shouted to himself “vote well, vote well, on Sunday, vote well”. Then all of a sudden he shouted something for us, “any majunches here put up your hands”. Obviously in a wagon filled with red nobody did it. Then he shouted again, “put your hands up all the Chavistas,” and a deafening cheer of jubilation went up. The drunk shouted again to himself, “the majunches might be ignorant but they aren’t idiots, not one of them put up their hand”.
That was our trip to Caracas, and still emotional at 1am on Friday morning, we decided to write this so we didn’t forget it all by morning, between our legs aching and our stomachs hurting because we didn’t eat anything the whole day. It was incredible, it was beautiful, and it was GIGANTIC; all the people that mobilised yesterday for the biggest closing campaign rally in the history of Venezuela. It's a true honour and source of pride to know that we are living a REVOLUTION and that we are living at this time.
The only thing left for us to say is that on Sunday we will vote well, we will do it en masse like we did with the take-over of Caracas yesterday, and we will emerge triumphant, we know it. However, above and beyond that is our responsibility as the inhabitants of this historic time to think about the other possible society, where it is not necessary to talk about saving mankind, which today is in danger of extinction.
*In Venezuela, October 4 is celebrated as the day of Francis d’Assisi. Around that date, it is said that torrential rains can be experienced in different regions throughout the country.
*A term coined by Chavez to describe the Venezuelan opposition and has a meaning similar to “loser” or “deadbeat”.
Translated by Rachael Boothroyd for Venezuelanalysis