And Chavez taught me to truly value my country.
The fact that you should care for your neighbour, for our living together, for the environment, is an important change. Before we were kind of more shut-in: all that mattered was what was "mine", full stop. Now it's about what's "ours".
Before we were so heavily infiltrated that it was easier to learn about foreign stuff than our own.
When I begin to feel the benefits of the social missions -because I really do benefit from such programmes as Mercal [subsidised groceries], the CDI [Integral Diagnosis Centres] and the Barrio Adentro mission [health modules in disadvantaged areas]- that's when I truly realise the significance of these 'misiones'; and not just for me, but for my whole family, even if we have private health insurance.
I also realise I love my country when I go back down memory lane and remember the times when other people used to take our country's resources away, and left us only the crumbs, if at all.
The big fish used to eat the little fish. That's what they were doing to us. Now what's ours is truly ours.
In my own case, I used to study Design in a private institute and used to work in the FEDECAMARAS [Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce] building. But when my employers found out I was pregnant, they fired me. I was forced to abandon my studies. I tried to survive for a while with my redundancy pay, . Thankfully, my family helped. In contrast to those times, I now find that our New Labour Law (also known as 'LOTTT'), protects women and children far more. What happened to me then would no longer happen to me now.
During El Caracazo [1989 urban riots], people went out in desperation to sack food from the store near where I live, and the National Guard, without any consideration whatsoever, came in to get people out with tear gas. We were choking! That date marked me forever.
During the 2003 Oil Strike (organised by the anti-government elite), I used to live in the port city of La Guaira, and it was outrageous to see the banks closed. They were closed with my money inside, and I couldn't buy milk or food for my daughters, just because someone decided to shut them. That decision was taken by an elite. In those days, the Bank of Venezuela was owned by the Spanish Santander Group.
You had to queue up the whole day, in order to fill your tank with petrol. I expect those bankers didn't have to queue up at all.
I have always seen Chavez as our hope. and events and actions confirm it. Even beyond our borders, he represents hope for many people. Leaving aside the TV or newspapers, Chavez has transmitted us his empathy and love.
¡I remain firmly by his side, wherever it takes!
A note of caution: I am no fanatic, I am attentive to our errors, and I am a critical person. But he truly does stand for hope. You can relate to him as if he were someone from your own family.
He is a teacher and every time he speaks to us, he teaches us something of history, geography, culture and of life itself; and I want him to continue his mandate because I don't want to return to the dark hole where we had been buried for so many years.
You feel Hugo to be part of the family, a friend, and if he could hear me right now, I'd tell him:
Hi Hugo! You can count on me. I also want a country to be proud of!