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Throughout my life, I’ve experienced several events that have shaped my personality and point of view when I face bad situations. These events include the death of one of my closest friends, and the brutal repression in my country, Venezuela. This last one was the key to defining the moment where I stopped being a child and became an adult in a country of chaos, censorship and violence.
Venezuela is a country with a lot of money thanks to its massive reserves of oil. The greed of its government has resulted in unlawful acts in the past several years, such as money laundering and drug trafficking. As a consequence, the country is facing bankruptcy, causing hunger, lack of medicine, and hyperinflation. In response, many students led by the opposition leaders organized protests, marches and demonstrations to demand the resignation of the president, Nicolas Maduro.
As a result of this protests, the regime ordered the military to brutally attack the crowds by using gas bombs, pellets, water cannons, and marbles. By the first month, more than 60 people died because of the government’s violent acts of repression. One of those fallen warriors was Cesar, one of my best friends. I grew up watching Cesar working at the local market and eventually we became friends when we were both in high school. Years after, we confronted the guards and built barricades to protect our hometown from the military forces. Sounds like a civil war, right? in fact, that’s what it really was.
One day I woke up with the news that Cesar got injured by a marble and that his femoral artery was wounded. When I heard this, I knew something really bad was going to happen. I spent the whole day restless and anxious. When night came, my mom returned home with tears running down her face to tell my that Cesar didn’t pull through. The next thing I knew was that from that day forward, my life would change drastically. For the next few days I had no appetite, and would cry every time I thought about him. One day, the music academy that I attended as a child invited me to sing for Cesar’s memorial in a plaza of my hometown. That day I had the chance to read some words I had written for him, and also sing one of his favorite songs to say goodbye.
Those days represented the worst period of my life so far, but I have to say that as hard as it was, something beautiful came out of it. I stopped behaving childishly and started to appreciate the people that surround me. I understood the magnitude of the conflict I was facing in my country and finally, I decided to use my voice and what I experienced to help others save themselves from what happened to Cesar. I attended many demonstrations where along the people from my community, we designed contingency plans in case of another military invasion in our hometown.
Finally, I gained enough maturity to move on from what happened to my friend. I decided to stop crying over him because I know that’s not what he would have wanted. Instead, I used the pain I felt from this experience to grow as a good human being. One day, our country will break its chains and I hope to be alive at that time and feel happy to tell him, wherever he might be, that we’re finally free.