|A Sophisticated Digital Essay|
In the previous webpage, you will see the makings of a basic digital essay. Taking that further simply means pushing the limits of the multimedia opportunities afforded by this platform. In Yodalin's essay below, you will see how she has extended her basic digital literacies:
Imagine waking up with no food to feed your family and no water to supply your necessities. Now conceptualize the need for change, the need for a revolution. It’s hard to understand someone's struggle without stepping in their shoes and seeing their urgency to survive, but right now thousands of people, mainly students, are fighting and protesting for freedom and human rights in Venezuela. In this country full of beauty and prestige, a culture well admired, people are willing to sacrifice their own lives for the government to listen to them and take action. All they're asking is for people to help them fight for freedom and equality, to pray for Venezuela which is now a devastating country whose main priority is no longer “the people's needs.”
On February 12, 2014, Dia de la Juventud (Youth Day,) students decided to take actions and demand more security from the government. It all started when an attempted raped of a young woman occur on a campus. Students started protesting non-violently, because officials were not taking further actions in this case. But everything started escalating day by day and a peaceful protest became more violent due to the excessive use of force by the police towards the students. Three students were killed and several were injured. In this movement, people started seing the true reality of the government and the true face of Nicolas Maduro, former president of Venezuela. When citizens asked for Paz (Peace), the military of Maduro pointed at them with guns. After just a month, 21 lives were taken, 318 individuals were injured and more than 1,000 people were arrested. And yet the freedom to protest is embedded in the constitution (CNE-Consejo Nacional Electoral).
A small situation that demanded rapid change is no longer small. Venezuelans all over the world now demand justice and peace for their families back home, a demand that Nicolas Maduro can't concede. To go outside, do some shopping and play around is no longer a choice. Officers have gone wild and streets have become battlefields. Although, people have said that this is Venezuelan problem and that we shouldn't be implicating ourselves with them, there are totally wrong. You don’t have to be Venezuelan to understand the agony the people are going through. As a Latina-Dominican, I understand what it is to fight for what you believe in, to fight for an education without the fear that someone might stop you and cut the wings to your dreams. This issue has gone public widely and Venezuelan freedom is basically in our hands. To just sit around and see a country torn apart is inhuman with people starving and dying when we have plenty food; seeing students without an education and officers abusing their power is beyond something I could just let ignore. Venezuela's hope is with us; the people who are constantly posting videos, blogs, stories, pictures, and much more, like the video below, want us know what's happening and how to help.
Click to load user-submitted video in a new window.
The revolution has expanded through media. People have created websites, twitters, videos, instagrams, and blogs, among others. One of these is a websites was created by an activist. This website is called sosvenezuela.org. The “sosvenezuela, pray for us” logo has gone viral; people started creating t-shirts, posters and pictures to support the cause. It is the best way for Venezuelans to ask for help without having the interference of the government. This website has become a news channel; thousands of pictures and stories are posted every day. For Venezuelans and activists around the world, this is their only hope: we, the people, outside the country that keep helping and supporting, as depicted in the video below. Overall, it has been easier to use media: video tapes and pictures show the reality of Venezuela right now and what is currently happening.
Nicolas Maduro has taken action by deleting, blocking and erasing all type of pictures, videos, blogs or accounts that relate to or show the tremendous phenomena occurring in Venezuela. Maduro has blocked news channels such as NTN24 and has threatened to pull the plug on CNN for false accusations of his behalfs. Calling it war propaganda "against the chavez regime”, he demanded CNN rectify what they had reported. Maduro believes that these particulars channels are addressing unlawful and untrue situations under his command that shows Venezuela in a civil war, but he says that’s totally wrong: “Venezuela el pueblo esta trabajando!” (In Venezuela the villagers are working). But how safe are villagers when they fear going out and never coming back? The bottom line is that Nicolas Maduro does not want the world to see the social and economic crisis that exists in Venezuela; he is depriving citizens from their lawful right to protest and their freedom of speech and press, thus violating the constitution of Venezuela. This is all due to his conviction that individuals are defying his power, but to me this is the beginning of a long period of misery.
Another use of media in this case has been Instagram. Activists all around the world have created sosvenezuela pages where people hashtag (#) their pictures supporting Venezuela and the fight for human rights. These pages show the constant violence in the streets, police brutality and protest. It gets more people involved in the movement and helps them take actions. One of the greatest activists in Instagram is a famous Venezuelan actress named Marjorie de Sousa; she has made it a personal duty to defend her compatriots from unjust treatment by the government. Her actions have inspired other artists and famous individuals to join the movement and help Venezuela gets its freedom.
Another use of media has been Vimeo and YouTube channels called sosvenezuela. These two sites have been a great weapon for Venezuelans to post videos of the current situation and what keeps happening outside in the streets. It is said that citizens that have been detained over the course of the protest are brutally tortured with electric shocks, rape, or beatings. These videos are posted with the hope that all detainees are cleared of all charges and released. These media sites, among others, have started to help Venezuela, but it has also made the situation more complicated due to Maduro's ongoing regime.
Amongst these protests, many people have been arrested, injured and killed. On January 6, 2014, a former Miss Venezuelan beauty queen and soap opera start of Telemundo, Monica Spear, was killed in an attempted robbery. The grief of a country and the sorrow of a family wasn’t enough to stop the brutality. The country's violence increased and there was nothing the government did to curtail this tremendous problem. A month later, the hostility continued and on February 18, Leopoldo Lopez, the opposing leader surrendered to authorities after delivering his speech to a crowd in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. He was accused by Nicolas Maduro of being responsible for the violent protest acts on February 12 that left three dead and dozens injured and arrested. Leopoldo says that he has nothing to hide and that if his imprisonment will be a way to show Venezuelans that they have to wake up and fight for their rights and freedom, then he has nothing to lose: “Valdra la pena su sagrificio?” (Will it be worth his sacrifice?) Similarly on February 19, just a day after Leopoldo surrendered, another beauty queen was killed, Genesis Carmona, a 22 years old fashion model who was shot in the head during a protest in Valencia by police officers. This clearly shows how reckless officers are and how Venezuelans are losing their voice due to the abuses of police officers who are supposed to be there to protect “the people.”
Lastly, I must say that Venezuela needs a new president, a new governor who is willing to understand people's rights and needs, a governor who doesn’t blame the opposing leaders for their violent acts. Venezuela needs a government free of conspiracy. Unless the government takes actions and helps the country and its people, this protest will continue and people's frustration and rage will escalate. All citizens want freedom and equality, but now it's becoming more difficult to obtain their human rights or just get the governor to listen. Despite the effort, Nicolas Maduro does not want to listen and takes everything to the extreme.
Due to mainstream media censorship, twitter and other large networks have become a dominant media outlet for Venezuela. Under the hashtags, #sosvenezuela, #prayforvenezuela, and #resistenciavzla among others, people have protested beyond Venezuela border's about the battle towards a free country. At some point, Maduro will give up and listen to the people, or the country will fall apart and that is not something he or any Venezuelan wants to experience. Police brutality must stop and human rights must be respected. As Simon Bolivar once said “Maldito el soldado que apunta su arma contra su pueblo” (any soldier aiming their weapons against their people should be cursed, a disgrace to his country).