So recently I had lost my phone, and inside that phone were recordings of many interviews including this specific lady, I was devastated so I had to email her and this was her response.
1. What is your name, what is your profession and where do you come from?
My name is Yole Quintero. I’m from Caracas, Venezuela. Currently I’m a student of photography at London College of Communication, because I want to have formal education in art. However I’ve been taking photos since 2006. I’ve also a degree in system engineering, but I don’t have so much fun as I have when I’m with a camera.
2. What is currently happening in Venezuela?
We had there a lot of people protesting in different zones of the country. The response of the government has been with extreme repression and violence. This situation started a month ago.
3. Why do you think this is happening?
Since years ago, Venezuela is struggling with many issues. The last 6 months probably have been the worst of all.
The mainly issues are:
- Insecurity: We live in a state of fear. You can’t go out without fear of being attacked, robbed, kidnapped, or even killed just for pure evilness. In 2013 we had almost 25.000 people killed. (http://youtu.be/zSvY6T2IZPs
- Economic: We have been accumulating several economical problems throughout the years that are exploding right now in our faces, despite having the biggest income by oil in all our history. Basically, the government distrusts the entrepreneurs and local producers, expropriating lands and companies (and then driving such companies to bankruptcy), controlling prices by a central institution (and thus having scarcity of many basic products, such as food and toilet paper), and having an exchange control that has lasted more than 10 years, and it’s the way the government controls activity from the middle class. This exchange controls have created a black market for dollars that has been driven crazy, and right now the difference between the official rate and the parallel rate is way too high. For instance, the minimum salary is BsF 3280. At the official rate that approximately 313£, but at the parallel rate that’s aprox 22£ (Yes, 22£). Scarcities of basic products have turned people in a constant search for products. It’s supposed that you find that basic things in the supermarket. You can’t find nothing, and when these products arrive to the supermarket the situation turns CRAZY (http://youtu.be/gyYQgILS0So
- Probably you know, but it’s suppose that we have a “democracy”. That’s the most weird democracy that I know. Mr Chavez left a “legacy” of “socialism”. After he died, we’ve had months of confusion. The leader of the opposition, Henrique Capriles, started to have many supporters. The government started a disgusting campaign against him. We have elections again, however, the former “president” won for about 200.000 votes in favour. It is no public secret how the government cheated the elections; the opposition tried to claim the elections. Nothing happened, however, we’re a very polarized country and we have tried to resist everything. Capriles had a message to be very careful and peaceful with the government. He insisted we’ve got to wait until the moment comes. No one knows exactly what this means.
A few days ago in a western state, a man tried to rape a girl. The students of different universities started to protest in the streets about the insecurity issues. In the other hand, we had another opposition leader, called Leopoldo Lopez. Lopez reacted and called the people to the streets.
People started to go out to streets since 12 February in some states. The main march was in Caracas, the capital. The first march was pacific. However, when the march had reached the end, the police, part of the national guardians and civilians armed and supporters of the government (The “colectivos”), started to shoot down people. In that day, 3 people were murdered. Next day, people went out again in several zones of the country to protest. Police, colectivos and national guardian, started to prosecute people. Many of them were wounded, other were captured. Leopoldo Lopez was arrested too.
None of this has been shown in TV. The government has a special law “against violence”, so they can’t show anything they don’t like, on the guise of “creating anxiety” or “perturbing children”. The government closed several TV channels and radio stations. The only way to communicate what is happening is through social media. Other volunteers has been photocopying flyers and giving them to people on streets.
The last days have been worst than ever. Police, colectivos and GNB are kidnapping people, shooting people, we’ve more than 25 person murdered and many wounded, just for the protests.
I think I’m missing some information. You might find more information in sites that explain the situation in English such as Caracas Chronicles http://www.caracaschronicles.com
So… If you ask me why people are protesting, this is why. And if you ask me why the repression is still going, I’ll say the government official words: Because they are a government of “peace”.
4. Why is Venezuela important to you?
Because I was born and raised there. I just moved to London 6 months ago, so I’m still missing many of the things of my country. Also I have my family and most of my friends in Venezuela. There is no way that I can’t be concerned, anxious and sad.
5. How do you think, using the talent that you have can help the people who have suffered in your country?
I’m a truly believer that art can and should change the world. I think that everyone has that little spark which can make the difference, we only have to start make changes and showing to our closest one how we can change the world. Some people use arts, another people like you, are helping the world through writing, others make paintings or songs. All we have to do is find that spark which is capable to make the world a better place.
My way to response to the Venezuelan problems was to create a photographic project called “Miss Patria” (Miss Country). In this project I’m trying to draw some attention not only to the extreme violence that we had suffered the last months, but also to raise conciousness about the thousand of people who died the last year. This is the link to the project. The images could be disturbing so I recommend you discretion (http://www.yolequintero.com/miss-patria
). I’m also developing another photographic project, this time I’m using “peace” for the message. I’ll let you know when is ready :)
For those who are not aware of current events in Venezuela, it briefly outlines what is happening, and this is something, as part of our learning, we should be aware of.