The eerie familiarity of it all (or Advice from someone who's been there, part 2)
I saw the massive marches in the USA and worldwide on the 20th with both awe and fear, because it reminded me so much of the huge rallies held on my country (one of them today, on the 59th anniversary of the true birth of our democracy). A few comments. (Pt 1: Advice from someone who's been there)
- •DO keep the pressure... when necessaryOne thing I admire about Saturday's rallies is that it was a sort of preemptive strike, not letting the Trump administration forget that he didn't win the popular vote. Always do this, America: pick your battles wisely. The Venezuelan government has made the constant fighting a powerful weapon, simply managing to wear down the opposition, neutralizing it in every turn.
- •Stay positive, be creative, but please use common senseThe greatest thing that pissed me off royally during the height of protests here in Venezuela (that would be 2002) was that each "protest" rally would turn into a Goddamn party. Dancing, autographs by the politicians and journalists, and t-shirts and caps... This was a protest of concerned people?
- •It's not just about numbersYes, the pictures comparing the two inaugurations spoke a million words. But hey, that's a picture when opposition leader Leopoldo López surrendered himself to the authorities, five years ago. No less than 300,000 people. He's still in jail. In October of last year the opposition gathered at least a million people demanding a recall. Guess what? No recall. Don't get me wrong, crowds that big send a powerful message. But if they just show up for rallies, don't get active and don't vote...
- •Do not --I repeat, DO NOT-- play the "Us vs. Them" game"Divide and conquer". It has worked for the Venezuelan government so well. We lost the 2015 elections by a hair, and I'm sure it's because many government supporters didn't like Nicolas Maduro, but REFUSED to vote opposition either. It's what I read many Bernie Sanders supporters may have (correct me if I'm wrong, please). In the end, remember: not everyone who votes different than you is an asshole.
- •Support real journalistsIn the "alternative facts" universe, the media are the second victims (after citizens). In Venezuela, it meant persecuted journalists, strangled newspapers (paper can only be received through the government), closed radio and tv stations (because of either lack of funding, concessions not being renewed, or takeovers) and bought media who made a 180 in their editorial line. Serious journalism needs citizen support... as do expressions of art that refuse to conform.
- •Support the arts. ALL the arts. ANY of the artsDare I say these are times when you will need artists the most. I leave it to Miss Toni Morrison to summarize: "There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal".