I am a human rights campaigner, politologist and militant artist from Venezuela living in Italy, where I am now a citizen.
I had to flee my country of birth because of my family's political history, given that my father was practically the right-hand man of the last truly democratic president, Carlos Andres Perez, before the arrival of the Chavista revolution era.
I've been the target of the regime for almost a decade now because of my activities within the Venezuelan democratic civil resistance to their authoritarian project from exile, and one of the millions of Venezuelans (around 8 million/30 percent of the population) that make up the Diaspora.
I have been using my art, knowledge and communication skills via social networks and my works to "paint the times",v using my art as a weapon of mass creation.
Since 2014 I have been one of the main bridge makers and enablers of coordination between different sections of the Venezuelan people and dynamics, and a leader in the "4th generation communication wars" at the beginning of the rise of a decentralized form of fight against tyranny first and foremost in my own country and in the world in general.
I remember as if it was yesterday when the most important protests in Venezuela broke out in February 2014.
I recall that Ukrainians (a people and country I know little about) were also protesting on Maidan Square in Kyiv at the same time that we were holding protests in Caracas' Plaza Altamira and around the whole country.
The parallels were so evident back then to the point that both peoples, over their cultural differences, made a common manifestation in front of the United Nations building.
We were facing the same brutal repression from authoritarian and anti-democratic regimes that held us down and that were trying to suppress the urge of our peoples to recover freedom and democracy.
I also remember feeling a sort of healthy envy for the fact that Ukrainians had managed to free themselves and evict the tyrant that represented the system and side of the totalitarian part of the world to gain their independence and walk towards the rebuilding of democracy and freedom, while Venezuelans didn't manage to do this.
The similarities and parallels between the two dynamics at the time were crystal clear to me from the fact that Ukraine also had shady politicians talking about "peace" and negotiations, to the fact that the enemy of freedom was the same for both nations.
From that point on I started developing a profound empathy for Ukraine.
At the same time, I began using my talents and skills as a rebel artist for Ukrainians and other peoples and cultures like the Cubans, Nicaraguans, Iranians, Kurds and Belarusians, who’d all been subjected to and confronted the same fight for freedom and democracy against an always stronger developing totalitarian world axis.
As a Venezuelan, I felt the invading interests of the Cuban Castrista regime, the Iranian ayatollah and the arrival of Russians to help Nicolas Maduro's regime further assert its grip and domination of Venezuela through sheer violence, propaganda and shared interests.
When Russia reinvaded Ukraine in February 2022, Nicolas Maduro's regime declared that Venezuela supported Russia's claims and invasion of Ukraine since they are allies and I remember tweeting that same day that "Nicolas Maduro might be with Putin but Venezuela is with Ukraine", and this tweet went viral.
In fact, it had many more retweets than the ones from the Venezuelan dictator even though he counted on support from all the Russian, Cuban and allied bot farms and trolls from the propaganda apparatus of these totalitarian states.
Regimes say one thing, and the people say another.
This feeling is one of the reasons that drove me to end up going to Ukraine in December 2022.
I wanted to illustrate this in actions with the understanding that this solidarity was driven by something way stronger than "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".
I feel a complete empathy and identified with the resistance of Ukrainians to the attacks of a totalitarian invader because as a Venezuelan we go through the same struggle and have the same dreams of freedom, democracy and independence.
It’s the odyssey of a Venezuelan inside Ukraine in wartime.
I had started making plans and arrangements for this trip to Ukraine through a network of people from all over the world that I have been building and engaging with for months in the field of human rights militancy and communication wars.
I was introduced to Ukrainian lawmaker Maryan Zablotsky, with whom we had a perfect feeling and understanding of mutual interests to demonstrate solidarity between our peoples. I was supported by my family with the little means we had, by these people with whom we share the ideals of freedom and democracy as a universal objective and by the Ukrainians who had invited me to come to Ukraine.
I arrived in a bus from Krakow, where I was the only foreigner with 80 percent of it consisting of women and children to a completely dark Lviv.
I took a night train to Kyiv where I went to physically meet my international friends and Maryan at Maidan Square, the place where it all began.
I experienced the electricity shortages that reminded me of the shortages in Venezuela, the difference being that those in Ukraine are due to attacks by Russian invaders destroying the energy infrastructure during the cold winter in an attempt to break the spirit of resistance and resilience of Ukrainians, whereas in Venezuela the reason for blackouts is the destruction of the country's infrastructure by the corrupt and destructive Chavista regime, which is an ally of the Russians.
I came to Ukraine with the primary objective of showing through facts the solidarity I feel with Ukraine as a Venezuelan for the symbolic power of a clear common cause.
I came to humbly offer my best as an artist and bridge builder to connect both the feelings of people and to put forward an alternative from the peoples to the version of history presented by authoritarian regimes.
My second idea was to use my talent and vision as an artist to produce art that illustrates this same synergy and to raise my country's flag on Kyiv’s Maidan to get her to breath in some freedom air to inspire all peoples to understand that we're all in the same boat despite distance and cultural differences.
I had the immense honor to visit Irpin, meet its heroic mayor and to get, as an artist, the unique opportunity to produce a street art mural by the side of Banksy's Ballerina.
I cannot even start to explain the feeling I felt arriving in situ, seeing the destruction caused by the Russian invasion and painting a piece with my freezing hands alongside the most important street artist of modern times.
It just felt so obviously natural, and it was great just to be there and experience this hyper reality with the Ukrainians that met and looked after me. From the guy in the store, to the artist girl Aya who met in Lviv trembling with a hot coffee cup in her hands as soon as I came off the bus from Poland to the young defenders, men and women, I ate with in a fast-food joint in Kyiv, as an equal and a brother.
This experience made the fact that we are all one humanity crystal clear to me. I felt that when I would say "Slava Ukrayini" I was also saying "Viva Venezuela Libre".
I believe that freedom is universal and has no frontiers, while egoism and authoritarian imposition do have frontiers.
Ukraine is the tip of the spear of the free world and stands against the expansion of evil and supporting it and one another is the necessary and good wall for separating civilization from barbaric impulses.
I'm a citizen of the world and felt like a citizen of Ukraine and I know now that Ukrainians also feel empathy for Venezuelans because of the same reasons I have described in this article.
I came to Ukraine to inspire and lead my people to support the right side of history that Ukraine represents and received assurance that this would also inspire Ukrainians and the world to also help us on our own common cause of Venezuela’s longing for justice, independence, democracy and freedom.
Slava Ukrayini - Viva Venezuela Libre!
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.
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