Los estudiantes / Teodoro Petkoff

The Students

The students, ah the students. You can imagine the bitterness of the leader of the “revolution” and “socialism” now that he’s facing off against the students. The man who has managed the power of symbols so efficiently, who has created so many symbolic images (“missions,” “Santa Inés,” “Maisanta,” “squalid ones,” and many others) that trap the minds of his followers and inflame their hearts, he knows perfectly well the symbolic value of young people – the country’s future, as the saying goes – rejecting his regime. That’s why he seems to be so out of his wits. Chávez understands perfectly well that when the kids are marching on the streets and the government has nothing else to use against them but tanks, national guards and police, the “revolution” ends up looking “skinny, wilted and undone.” The “revolution” has already become an anachronism, it’s stuck in the past, it lost the future and its present is an ancient, vacillating, erratic, shaky old lady. For the first time in this war of symbols – which has been waged these past eight, almost nine, years –, Big Papi is on his knees.

This is no longer the government of a revolution, it is simply just another government, the same as so many others we’ve had before, whose response to the students on the street is the same as yesterday’s: batons, water cannons, tear gas, sadistic brutality. In his desperation, conscious of the effect of the powerful image of thousands upon thousands of defiant girls and boys, throughout the entire country, Chacumbele tries out that same old, worn-out trick. “Mama’s boys,” “rich kids,” “puppies of the oligarchy,” these are the insults he expels through his mouth in a pathetic attempt to disqualify his opponent, who now steps onto his terrain. But there’s no way for him to downplay his opponent’s gains. The students have always been loved in Venezuela. There hasn’t been a dictatorship that didn’t have them as enemies, and the masses have always felt themselves represented by them.

He had to swallow the threats he made on Sunday. He thought he’d be able to intimidate the students and their answer was a proud, “Who said fear!” There’s a new political actor on the scene. He’s been absent for over two decades, but he has reappeared, with a full tank, the vanguard of a country that today, even within the ranks of the masses who vote for Chávez, honestly asks itself what abyss the President intends for us. The NO to the constitutional referendum grows gigantic. The disposition to defeat the self-continuing and totalitarian intent, with vote in hand, is receiving a formidable impulse. The battering ram emerges from the classrooms.


Wednesday’s march was majestic. Well organized, with the students themselves preventing any actions by provocateurs or hotheads. They accomplished their objective to reach the Supreme Court. The response from the regime’s fascist-gangster squads was the assault on the Universidad Central de Venezuela [when students returned from the march], with its sum of students wounded by gunshots. Desperation is beginning to take hold of the Constitutional “reformers.” Their masks are falling off, in effect; the masks of those who lack any reason besides brute force. They’re hoping for a pretext to take over the university. They provoke violence so as to invoke government violence. What a contrast between the students’ march and the treacherous, cowardly and armed attack against the students and the university! The attack is the echo of Chávez’s speech last Sunday.

[Photo: Saúl Uzcátegui / Tal Cual]

{ Teodoro Petkoff, Tal Cual, 8 October 2007 }

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