“Mom, it was Pedro that got run over twice by the tank”
María Auxiliadora Escobar de Yammine
“At 4:45pm, I got a call from Clínica El Ávila.”
—Are you a relative of Pedro Yammine?
—Yes; I’m his mom.
—Pedro is here in the clinic and he’s hurt. We need a next of kin to come in.
—What’s wrong with him?
—We need you to come in.
Pedro had been at home half an hour before to pick up water. I asked him to come up and to stay, but he said he had to keep going. The police had attacked the protesters and managed to disperse them from the Francisco Fajardo Highway up to Altamira, so he left. It was May 3rd. We live three blocks from the Torre Británica in Bello Campo. There were so much tear gas, so many shots, so much everything.
That morning he had his favorite breakfast: eggs, arepa and juice. I make it for him. He knows how to cook but won’t forgive me if I don’t make his breakfast.
He left at one to join the protest, as he has with almost all the manifestations. He’s a photographer, but he’d never taken pictures of the marches. He only takes photos that reflect the beauty of Venezuela. He just did a course in underwater photography to capture Venezuela’s coral reefs, as he always said he wanted to.
I hung up. I was shaking. I couldn’t find my keys or how to get to the clinic.
A neighbor gave me a lift. It took and hour and a half to cover two kilometers. Two brothers had taken Pedro there on a motorbike. He had seven cracked ribs, both shoulder blades broken, air trapped in his lung cavity, and cuts and grazes. When he got to the clinic he was unconscious. The nurse asked if he’d had lunch. Tear gas, he replied.
He’s 22, hasn’t finished highschool but still wants to. He’s ambidextrous and goes by the nickname Pedreishon just to poke fun at me. Photography is his life. His friends love him. He protects other people. He has accute attention deficit syndrome and is really shortsighted, so I’ve always said to him:
—What happens if you’re in the midst of the protest and you drop your glasses, Pedro? What are you gonna do?
—’ll defend those glasses with my life, mom.
Later that night, my daughter told me:
—Mom, it was Pedro that got run over twice by the tank. I recognized him in the video.
I didn’t know that that was what had happened to him. I thought he’d got run over by a motorbike.
I haven’t seen the video, nor has my husband. We can’t face it.
My son was anesthetized for two days. He didn’t move, his eyes were shut, he was swollen, and he breathed using a ventilator. I said to him: “Up you get, photographer. Photography’s waiting for you.” I said it just like that, no crying, cause I know he doesn’t like if it I cry. He moved his lips, he heard me. It was then that I felt hope that he might recover.
The doctor who treated, who happened to be a diving buddy of Pedro’s, believes in science but accepts that miracles happen. What happened with Pedro’s lungs was a miracle. That’s the only explanation for the fact he survived the night of May 3rd.
Apparently the tank ran him over from behind the first time. I don’t know what happened after that.
Pedro is a victim, but I don’t have room for resentment. I just want my Pedro with me again and happy.
Pedro is and isn’t Pedro. His original name is Michel. Pedro and his sister are adopted. I had them in 1996, but Michel was born in 1994. You don’t just have children by birth, but also by love. Whichever way, they’re your children. I had children by love.
In the National Children’s Aid Institute, he walked out from the group of kids, grabbed my hand and said: “This is my mom.” I didn’t get a chance to choose him; he chose me. He came with his six month-year-old sister. I’m an old mom, I went to bilingual high school in Boston, which is where I met my husband, who’s Venezuelan. I’m from Baranquilla. I don’t have an accent because people from the coast don’t.
Pedro repeated time and again what he’d asked his dad, Pedro Yammine, to do if something happened: Pedro Michel Yammine, Clínica El Ávila, Qualitas insurance, ID card, home phone number, cell phones. Nobody at the clinic’s mentioned how much treatment has cost for the Yammine family. The doctors decided straight out not to charge. We’ve received total support from them, and from the Chacao mayor’s office.
He’s in intensive therapy. He’s off the ventilator but they’re still draining his left lung. He can breathe on his own but I don’t know when they’re sending him home. There’s no visitor bed, so I have to sleep at home every night when what I want is to be there with him. I geed him and he eats; he’s got a good appetite. There’s a year and a half of rehabilitation ahead, we’ve been told.
When he reached the clinic he had his broken glasses in his right hand. When he finally went unconscious, he lost his glasses. Everything’s still a blur now, but a schoolfriend’s mom ordered some new glasses for him.”
María Auxiliadora Escobar de Yammine, 66, BA in philology from Atlantic University [Barranquilla, Colombia], MA in Bilingual Education, Boston University [Boston, USA] and mother of Pedro Michel Yammine