In 'reality' my name is Kai (like Okay not like Pie) .19. Cosplayer in the Toronto Area. Nerdfighter. Multi-Shipper. Whovian. Sherlockian. Pottermore: BronzeMist112 Married to ScintillaofRemorse/oh-my-bacon Readers Reading
Everyone who terrifies you is sixty-five percent water.
And everyone you love is made of stardust, and I know sometimes
you cannot even breathe deeply, and
the night sky is no home, and
you have cried yourself to sleep enough times
that you are down to your last two percent, but
nothing is infinite,
not even loss.
You are made of the sea and the stars, and one day
you are going to find yourself again.
Me: Hello! It's Wrist Watches Are Neat from Tumblr.
Valentina Vegas: Hi there!
Me: I’ll start off with some introductions: I’m Josh, and I’m a second year University student studying a Bachelor of Arts (Professional and Creative Writing, Philosophy). Would you be able to introduce yourself and explain your relation to what is happening in Venezuela? Do you live near a protest site, was your ballot box burned, and are you an Opposition or a Government supporter?
Valentina Vegas: I'm Valentina, I'm an architecture student at the Central University of Venezuela. I'm a supporter of the Opposition, and I've lived here almost my entire life. I was unable to vote on Sunday due to the fact that the registry that was used for these elections was the one used the last time President Chavez ran for office, in October of last year, and I turned 18 a month after that.
Valentina Vegas: Do I live near a protest site? Well, that's sort of relative at the moment.
Me: Could you elaborate? It’s difficult for people who live so far away to imagine what is going on. Are there riots in the street constantly?
Valentina Vegas: I don't know exactly what you have heard, but last night people were protesting all over the city—all over the country. In cities like Maracaibo, Valencia, San Cristobal, Maracay, people were out in the streets demanding a recount. The military was trying to contain some of these protests in certain areas of Caracas. It's really chaotic right now. Today, armed men stormed into classrooms at the CUV to threaten students that were might have gone to the rally Capriles had planned for tomorrow here in Caracas—which was cancelled by Capriles himself during a press conference a couple hours ago.
Me: Have you attended any protests yourself?
Valentina Vegas: Not since the election, but basically, the government is trying to lure people out into the streets, because they aim to solve the matter through violence via the military. I heard some speculation about what would happen if the military turned on the Government, but that's highly unlikely.
Me: Have you heard about any cases of police brutality or excessive violence? The media is largely portraying the Opposition as the villains with reports of seven people killed and one woman nearly burned alive, by the Opposition.
Valentina Vegas: False. Absolutely false. Police brutality, I've seen. People hurt with rubber bullets, tear gas, that type of thing. But the Opposition here is completely peaceful with their protests. The worst you see is what we call "cacerolazos", but not violence. The whole point of Capriles' press conference today was to assure the public that he does not endorse any type of violent behaviour. He was asked about the seven people killed, but it appears that those people died at the hands of what is “everyday crime” here, so to speak. It had nothing to do with the Opposition.
Me: I see. Many of the images that have reached this side of the the world have been of protesters acting peacefully or running from tear gas. Does this mean that the police/military been using tear gas and rubber bullets on peaceful protesters?
Valentina Vegas: Yes, yesterday and today as well. That's what it is, basically. I know people who went to the protests in different areas of Caracas yesterday and I have a picture of Plaza Altamira completely obscured by tear gas.
Me: What is the public’s reaction to this? Is the entire country involved or are many people unaware/not participating in the conflict?
Valentina Vegas: The entire country is involved. Right now it's divided in half, half Opposition, half Government supporters. After fourteen years of the same people running the country it's hard not to have a radical opinion on the matter. However, there are people who prefer to not get directly involved in the conflict because it's unsafe on the streets.
Me: Is party loyalty an important part of Venezuelan culture? As an outsider it seems that way.
Valentina Vegas: Oh, it is. Absolutely. We're talking about very emotional, passion-driven people. The people who voted for Maduro didn't do it because they think he has what it takes to run a country, they did it because Chavez told them to and they believe in Chavez. What did surprise me, though, was that when Chavez was in office, his supporters were roughly 55-60% of the country. According to these past elections—the results announced by the CNE as well as the numbers the Opposition has—more than 1 million of Chavez's supporters decided not to vote for Maduro this time. I personally know people who simply decided not to vote for him because they don't think he should be the one in office, whether Chavez endorsed him or not. It's more obvious than ever that he doesn't have a clue of what he's doing.
Me: Yes of course. Is there anything else you feel is important or that you would like to add?
Valentina Vegas: I don't think Maduro is going to last in office. At all. He may sign the opposition off as a minority, but we're over half of the country at this point. And it's quite obvious that he's not fit to be president — the man doesn't even know how many states we have. Every time he speaks all he talks about is his martyr; the spirit of the Revolution and how we're all sons and daughters of Chavez. He has no idea what to do about any of the major problems we have and it's becoming clear that the government is desperate to stay in power. People are really angry right now and Capriles is doing absolutely everything to see that this works out peacefully and that this doesn't go on any further.
Me: As things progress I’d like to stay in touch if that’s all right, so you might be hearing from me soon. Above all, stay safe! And thank you for your time.
Valentina Vegas: You're quite welcome and thanks!