“They got me in the face”
Daniela Santana Ferris
“I always felt like I was invincible. That nothing would ever happen to me. That the cops would get someone else, not me. That someone else would get hit by rubber pellets, not me. Until it happened to me. Until it happens to you.
I’ve been on the front line ever since the protests started, much closer than where I was Wednesday June 14. I was with my cousin, looking for the shells of teargas grenades for a creative protest: plant pots for four-leaf clovers.
There was a group of people, but it wasn’t so big. We bumped into another cousin and we wanted to get down to the freeway.
We reached Plaza Altamira. Suddenly everyone started to run. She cross over to the left, my cousin went to the right and I carried on up the square. I heard the shots. Someone from a residential building let us in. I was helping people to get inside in the middle of a white plume of teargas.
“Hurry, get inside!”
I looked around to see where the cops where to decide if I should stay there or keep running. I saw two National Bolivarian Police in the middle of the road, two lanes from me. I heard the pellet gun fire. I saw the sparks. The guy who shot was behind. I covered my face with my arm to protect my eyes. I didn’t feel anything. Maybe it was the adrenaline. I tried to get into the building when I realized that I had something running down my face.
“They got me, they got me in the face, let me in!”
I didn’t want to tell my dad until I knew exactly what it was. I took a selfie so I could see. Eight pellets in my face, four in my arm and two in my helmet. I was seen by the Green Cross. Then I was cleaned up and treated at El Ávila clinic. My dad arrived. He wasn’t mad at me. I have a Venezuelan passport and a European passport, but this is my country. All my family are here. Very few have left. There’s 27 cousins and at least 20 are here. My grandpa, the architect Julián Ferris, designed the buildings for the Supreme Court of Justice. This belongs to us, it’s a feeling of belonging.
I fight with my dad. How far will this go? What has to happen for you to leave? And now this. If it was up to me, I would have gone back to the protest already. I haven’t because I’m still recovering, but I will soon. I respect those who have left: it’s an important, difficult decision. But I also support the people who stay.
I was eleven when Chávez came to power. As kids we didn’t talk about politics. I knew the name of the president because they had told me in history class. I’m fighting for a Venezuela that I’ve never known: where you can work, get a loan, buy an apartment. Get a car on credit. Use your salary to travel. My
grandparents tell me how it was.
I haven’t worked for two months. Who wants to buy bracelets, earrings and necklaces in a situation like this?
Don’t you think I get scared when I go to the protests? I go because I don’t like what I have and I’m fighting for something better. It’s my duty. You flight or you leave. First I used a bike helmet, but then when I saw how they were shooting people in the head, I upgraded to a motorbike helmet. I don’t leave the house without a handkerchief, Maalox and my helmet. I’ve been protesting for 70 days and I’ve only seen a few friends from school. Where are they? I’m affected by the apathy of some of them. I see people at protests who I’m not so close to anymore. They protest now they have money to lose.
I don’t have much sympathy for people who were once with the government.
If I end up with scars on my face, I’ll tell my kids that they’re wounds from war.
Daniela Santana Ferris, 30, jeweler