Opinion and Analysis: Participation
A Militia Woman Who Did Everything to See Chavez
The image of a young woman in front of President Hugo Chavez’s casket with her hand on her heart and her left fist in the air was spread around the world, to become a symbol of the continuation of the Bolivarian revolution.
The photo, taken by photographer Efrain Gonzalez of Prensa Presidencial, became one of the most widely distributed images of the activities in honour of Chavez.
Fiery, loyal, combative, and moving, the photo was used by news agencies in Spain, Argentina, Cuba, the United States, and even in Asia.
The photo is of Lisseth Pavon, a youth who at 23 years of age, says she was born during the revolution, in September 1989, and her first memory of Chavez was at nine years old when she saw him saying “for now” [Translator: possibly on the television, as Chavez said “for now” when his coup attempt failed in 1992] and knew he would become president.
Lisseth, the fifth of six siblings, is a member of the militia, Battalion Pedro Maria Morante, and lives in Barrio Obrero de San Cristobal, Tachira. She has a seven year old boy, who studies second grade, “and is also a revolutionary militant”.
“It [her actions in the photograph] came from the soul, I didn’t think about it. I just wanted the comandante to know that he’s alive, here,” she says, touching her heart, “in everyone one of us and that his legacy will continue living on in the struggle of each of us,” says Pavon, while she raises her left fist high.
The National Bolivarian Militia is part of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces, created by Chavez on 22 July 2008, and is made up of hundreds of thousands of troops, including civilian ones and military ones.
However, the militia woman who was accompanied by sergeant Ronald Centano, commander of the militia in his suburb, and by other militia women; Emperatriz Berra, a Barrio Adentro doctor, and Yajaira Duarte, health defender, still knew nothing about “hunting”.
It was her mother, who came to see Chavez one day in the chapel of rest, who gave her the news. “I couldn’t believe it, I went there on Tuesday with what I had; 200 bolivars, and among all the rumours of ransacking. They had even closed the San Cristobal terminal [translator: around 21 hours bus trip to Caracas] but the mission was to get to Caracas,” Pavon relates, still made nervous by the media exposure.
She told how after changing buses three times she got to Fuerte Tiuna on Wednesday at two in the afternoon.
“We arrived and we waited in the Presidential Tribune of Los Proceres. When the hearse passed I was broken, my heart exploded into a thousand pieces, I lost my nerves from the pain, I couldn’t believe that my comandante was there. It was hard, but I know that he lives on in everyone one of us,” Pavon remembered, speaking in that voice that is typical of people of the Andes.
In the same clothing that she left her house in, with an empanada, two biscuits, and a little water, Lisseth, Emperatriz, Yajaira, and Ronald took the path towards the Military Academy. They waited until midnight Thursday, to pass the chapel of rest.
“I got there and I wanted to touch him, to tell him that he took away our blindfolds, that now we really have to struggle and that thanks to him we have a homeland. I don’t have the words to describe what I feel for Chavez, it’s love,” she says, and pauses, while her bottom lip trembles, before adding, “so large [as life]”.
Lisseth for now will go back to studying law, and she wants to continue in the militia, “to be an example, to continue fighting the struggle with Chavez and Bolivar as examples”.
“We’ll support Nicolas [Maduro], Chavez hasn’t given me anything material, it’s about the power that he gave to us, the youth, all Venezuelans,” Pavon concluded.
Translation by Tamara Pearson for Venezuelanalysis.com
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