Caracas reaches its 450th birthday: crying; its sky grayed by the tear gas; debris on its streets; injured ones in hospitals; dead ones at the morgue; jailed and tortured ones.
Caracas: Heaven’s Agency, the City of the Red Roofs, Mount Avila’s Bride. Today, its name could be instead: City of Pain and Resilience.
In this new important birthday, Caracas dawns tormented, humiliated, brutalized. It was once a symbol of modernity, elegance, pharaonic projects, daring architecture, culture.
Thousands of European emigrants came one day to Caracas. They fell in everlasting love with her.
Caracas is the same capital that was once a beacon for theater from all over the world, for the most acclaimed opera singers, the most exquisite art exhibited by renowned museums and galleries; it is the same city, and yet another one.
Today, Caracas is a hell one flees from; a city of heartbreaking greetings, of families scattered throughout the world, of calls by Skype – when the internet works – that enliven the soul at the sight of the beloved face on the other side of the world, and then leave pain, because of the impossible hug that reminds one of the distance.
Caracas reaches its 450th birthday in the midst of an asymmetric war of weapons against stones; guns in the hands of young people indoctrinated in hatred, and stones in the hands of other young people who become filled with hatred as their friends die, suffer wounds that mark them for life, and are victims of ruthless and unpunished violence.
Pain grows and courage grows along. Young ones, adults and elders decided to say “enough!” to bad governance and corruption. They are Venezuelans that do not surrender; anguished at the sight of the ones malnourished, hungry, lacking in medicines, they are tired of living in a country dominated by the underworld. They are Venezuelans who decided to fight and recover the life that escapes from them among fears and despair, knowing that in this fight they could lose their very life.
Caracas is the city of those who do not give up; those that, for more than three months, have been going out every day, knowing that it could be the last day of their life, knowing about threats of torture and beatings, about body and soul-tearing wounds.
Caracas and all large and small cities of Venezuela are today cities of courage, hope, resilience and solidarity woven through shared pain and common need.
On July 16, through their participation in the popular consultation organized by the opposition parties, Venezuelans were protagonists of one of the biggest and most impressive democracy demonstrations.
Caracas has been injured, but she will not die. There are not enough bullets to kill her, no constituent assemblies that can silence her, no prisons that can bring her to her knees.
The day will come when we shall be able to walk again on her streets, without fear or hatred; and that day, forgetting will be forbidden. The memory of today’s pain will serve as the basis for building a more just society, with no room for warlords, or for the rapacity of corruption and the appetite for easy wealth.
Once again Caracas will be the city that promises a future, the city of bubbly culture, laughter, music, joy of living. No matter what, they won’t prevent that from happening.
ViceVersa Magazine dedicates this issue to Caracas. It is its birthday present to the city where it proudly first delved its roots into; roots that have spread in New York City to every corner of the Spanish-speaking world: rich, varied, gratifying. The response of our collaborators: emotional, choral. Many of them have sent us their texts, photos, collages, poems; others have sent their e-mails, expressing concern and solidarity.
Having the support of foreign governments and international organizations is very important, but the warm, disinterested, spontaneous solidarity of ordinary citizens is equally valuable.
To contribute its bit in supporting Venezuelans’ struggle, ViceVersa Magazine will hand over the proceeds from this month’s affiliations to the association Cascos Verdes, Primeros Auxilios UCV.
Caracas is the main protagonist of this issue. In her we treasure memories, longings and hopes. In her name, friendships emerge in far away countries.
Happy birthday, Caracas! Happy birthday, sisters and brothers from Caracas!
“A menos pensamiento, pensamiento más tiránico y absorbente.” - Miguel de Unamuno