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

Miami coach Jim Larranaga is staying on the Hurricanes while they keep piling up wins. Dewan Huell h ...

Shakey Rodriguez, the Miami high school basketball coaching legend, vividly remembers the first time ...

It was a good day for the Miami Hurricanes basketball team. They moved up to No. 6 in the AP Top 25 ...

Erykah Davenport and Shaneese Bailey made key plays back-to-back late in the game and four players s ...

1. MARLINS: Jeter's Fish trade Gordon. Stanton next?: While others spend -- like the Angels to ...

William W. Sandler Jr. Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Education earns national recognition for it ...

Retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez gives "Major League" advice to UM’s fall graduating c ...

Becoming the Man of the Hour ...

Always a little bit of a flair for the dramatic. ...

A scholarship created by retired Major League Baseball star Alex Rodriguez and born out of his love ...

Dewan Huell recorded his second double-double of the season as Miami improved to 9-0 with a 59-50 wi ...

The Miami women's basketball team begins play at the Puerto Rico Classic Monday against Sacrame ...

The University of Miami women's basketball team capped its seven-game homestand with a 79-31 wi ...

University of Miami senior wide receiver Braxton Berrios earned 2017 first-team 2017 CoSIDA Academic ...

USA Diving announced the recipients of its annual awards at a ceremony in conjunction with the 2017 ...

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.