Opinion

Venezuelans still hope for change

The moment many in Venezuela had been awaiting for months came and went this weekend, and the nation, as well as the international community, is still asking, “what happened?” What many had called a democratically elected authoritarian regime was toppled, but somehow all the king’s horses and all the king’s men seem to be putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Last Friday morning, for the first 30 minutes of the accent reduction class I was teaching, we didn’t talk about voiced or voiceless consonants or stressed or unstressed syllables. We talked about Venezuela. I had not watched the news, so it wasn’t until my Venezuelan student told me that Hugo Chavez had been asked to resign and his Bolivarian Revolution seemed to have come to-at least-a temporary end that I found out . My student related to me all he had read online, seen on television, and heard over the phone the night before, and I sat listening with rapt attention.

This is how I have come to know this nation. This is how the teacher has over and over again become the hungry student of a country undergoing a revolution.

I have former students working with Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., the nation’s oil company, and and DISIP, the national police, who claimed to have found explosives and evidence of the plotting of a violent coup. I have flown in a tiny plane piloted by a former Venezuelan Air Force officer out of La Carlotta, the tiny military airport in the heart of Caracas where my student told me a truck had blocked the runway late in the night to prevent Chavez’ escape, but also where reports say a Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. plane whisked the first lady and her daughter off to their hometown.

I know people who voted for this former coup leader out of rage or hope for change, most of them disillusioned with rhetoric and angry with radical reforms that threatened their way of life. I know the U.S. government only began to voice opposition to the president of this petroleum-producing nation when its leader held up photos of “innocent” victims of “fighting terror with terror” in Afghanistan.

I know no one who lives in the sad shacks that line the hillsides. It was the poor in the nation’s shantytowns who elected him, bolstered by the fickle support of a frustrated middle and even upper class.

Last week, it was the middle and upper class who forced his resignation, bolstered by the support of a remorseful military who ultimately threw its support behind the president once again.

It is almost impossible to argue that Chavez has promoted his vision for change in an efficient, effective, intelligent, or even particularly democratic way. The hope, however, that this charismatic leader has sparked, although it may have flickered, seems still a ways from dying out.

Last Saturday night, the voices of these same poor citizens reached the ear of a military and a middle class who began thinking twice when, in a cruel case of d

April 19, 2002

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Either the Miami Hurricanes get a collective adrenaline rush from heart-palpitating fourth quarters, ...

View photos from the Syracuse at Miami game Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami G ...

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G6: Time again for the latest installment of the Canesfan Satisfaction ...

Syracuse student writer Matthew Gutierrez of The Daily Orange asked me to answer some of his questio ...

After this past University of Miami football game, coach Mark Richt said the crowd came alive during ...

Univeristy of Miami’s Wynwood Art Gallery holds its annual faculty exhibition featuring thought-prov ...

From a game simulating how whales navigate to a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, the U showcased some of ...

A new mobile game called Blues and Reds, now available worldwide, aims to help researchers study int ...

A major Lancet Commission report, a three-year project headed by UM’s Professor Felicia Knaul and co ...

With a $6.8 million NIH grant, the UM School of Nursing and Health Studies and FIU Robert Stempel Co ...

Syracuse visits Miami on Saturday, October 21st at Hard Rock Stadium. ...

Thirty years ago, the 1987 Hurricanes achieved perfection. This weekend they are back where it all b ...

As a Hurricane Club member, you are invited to participate in the 25th Annual University of Miami Ha ...

Behind a historic performance from senior Olga Strantzali, the University of Miami volleyball team b ...

The Miami women's tennis team opened play Friday at the ITA Southeast Regional Championships Pr ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.