Recently I reached out to a young Venezuelan Enderson Banda in hopes to get a better understanding of what is going on in the country. As you know the students of the country came out in protest on Feb. 14th. Enderson said the main reason these protest started was the imprisonment of three university students in Caracas. There have been wide reports of some protesters with guns but Enderson could not confirm these reports and says they are just rumors. He also confirmed to me that there have been rumors going around of protesters getting silenced and jailed as well as tortured. He said that the main opposition leader is in jail right now.
Enderson reports that twitter is back up and running with a wide variety of Venezuelans using the social networking site to get the voice of Venezuela heard. It was reported that the Internet had been silenced and twitter was dark in the country. During the silence of twitter, they used a program like TOR to get information out. Banda confirmed to me that the only television agency that was reporting on the events in the country was Columbia’s NTN24, which had been cut off by the government.
Banda says that the violence in the country in the past couple years has been out of control. He sited the incident where the 2003 Ms. Venezuelan Monica Spear returned to the country for vacation with her husband, and their trip home would be short lived. They were gunned down in cold blood. Banda says that the government is too slow to react to situations like this one. Citing that it took them ten days to bring the people who perpetrated the act to justice. The fear the government has had on the people is slipping. Enderson sights that more citizens are going to social networks to protest the regime of Nicolas Maduro who Banda claims is power hungry. Enderson says the country has been going into economic decline for awhile and the inflation rates have been sky rocketing since he has taken office. Even claiming that he has done this on purpose. The citizens have even gone into mocking the regime, Enderson sights that the people are prepared for the long haul but he hopes that it won’t take long before change is made. He recalls the regime change years ago when Venezuela was under military dictatorship and this dictartorship got overturned in twenty days. He hopes it is a repeat. He doesn’t want to call it a revelution and does not want any outside international help in the country for two reasons: 1) he believes it would cause more bloodshed, and 2) he believes that countrymen like himself can change it like they did before.
During our hour long skype conversation spirits were high even some mild humor. Even though his spirits were high, current events wouldn’t make you believe you could manage to be so positive. The sad reality of the situation was when we were talking a young women who was shot days earlier during a protest died of the head trauma. But Enderson believes the only way to survive is to not take everything so seriously.
Banda also wants the outside world know that this is not a US-led coup d’état as the government of Venezuela wants you to believe. This is simply the country fed up with the violence as well as the economic issues. Enderson believes this is a propaganda tool towards the regime’s supporters. Banda says the majority of the population does not support Madura and that in his town there is only one supporter.
Enderson wants to be on the streets of Caracus but he is from Marikay, which is a few hours away. He also sites that he doesn’t want to have his family worry about him. Being an English speaking Venezuelan he believes he is better suited to fight the battle on the social media front. Although his English isn’t fluent, he can hold a conversation very well and tells me he learned English through movies. Banda’s hope is for the country to get better and the violence to slow down. He says the hospitals don’t have the proper tools to keep up with what is going on and the country is taxed. Enderson says that shop owners have started boarding up shops because the demonstrations from both parties are getting so large.
I hope this sheds some light on the situation that is going on in the country.
My personnel opinion is there needs to be some international help but it cant be led by the united states. We don’t need this beautiful country going deeper into chaos like Ukraine.