Sitting at the beach just before sunset with Mary Kaminski, an immigrant from Venezuela, we both marveled at the unrivaled coastline of California.
“It’s beautiful,” she gently spoke. “Your country is paradise,” she continued with an undeniable sadness.
“My country was once paradise," reflecting on Venezuela, "and within a few short years, it was lost forever. To lose a country you love, is inexplicable,” she again continued with such gravity.
Knowing she was an immigrant who came to America, the significance never fully impacted me until this moment.
“Mary,” suddenly filled with compassion, “I assumed you came to America for freedom, I never considered you were fleeing Venezuela because you lost it.”
Staring at the descending sun, I respected her silence, remembering a time from long ago, when her own nation Venezuela was the richest oil producing country in South America, yet now only a decade later completely impoverished by socialism.
The implosion of “free”
“No one knew what our future would bring until it was too late.”
"I once lived in a country just like America- prosperous and free. Yet, slowly but surely I witnessed socialism creep in like an invisible enemy. There are stages to socialism. No one gives up freedom voluntarily. Promises must be made in exchange for freedom. It is impossible to take over a strong country, especially when the citizens are armed, it is an implosion from within," she stated with the wisdom of hindsight.
Dissatisfaction and Change
Cuba and Venezuela were allies. Rumor was prisoners were released to Venezuela in exchange for gold purposefully causing chaos and unrest against the government. Price of oil had dropped and we were noticing the aftermath. With the rise of dissatisfaction the stage was being set, the people I believe, were being brainwashed that change was the answer. Change to what? I questioned. Families were torn apart with polarized views as to give up rights and vote for an unknown change."
The Election of 1998
"Chavez promised the people to restore the economic status giving them free health care, free programs, and equality to the rich. He was voted in by a slim margin, yet that was the beginning of the end."
A New Constitution
"In 1999 Chavez rewrote the constitution ushering in a socialist government, with military power, and eliminated the power of the church transferring allegiance from church to state. The regime confiscated property from the working class and gave it to the indigent, to equalize the wealth. Soon the working class experiencing their wealth confiscated fled to Europe and of course America, the promised land."
"Health care declined as the government did not uphold their promises of free, as government spending was exorbitant. There were government contracts given to family and friends, who lived extravagant lifestyles ( daughter Maria Gabriela Chavez with bank accounts in U.S totaling nearly $4.2 billion) as the people suffered.
"As we voted in military control, we also conceded our right to bear arms,
soon realizing we had given all of our power to the government and remained helpless.”
“Once we lost our guns, we lost our voice.
"No longer could we speak against a government who tyrannized us, lest we fear death. Those that spoke out were killed."
"What we had hoped for in “free” turned to slavery and poverty. The good people left. And those left remaining remember Venezula before the promises of 1999."
"I fled to America, as an immigrant, and now have become a citizen of this country."
"The election of 1998 split the country, split even my own family. And even though my own sisters voted for socialism for the promise of free, their regretful decision cannot be taken back. It”s too late for them, and for Venezuela."
I see the unrest here with the same issues. As an immigrant I warn people not to buy into the propaganda. I don’t want to lose a country twice.
Listening to her was weighty. Something I wasn’t prepared for, yet being acutely aware that what she was saying was true.
“Mary,” I sincerely questioned,” do you think our country will follow yours? Do you think this country can maintain its freedom?"’
"Today, at this Washington Prayer March you continue a great American tradition. Since the founding of our nation, our leaders and our people have gone to prayer in challenging times,"
"Abraham Lincoln, before whose monument we stand today, said during his time in the White House: 'I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I have nowhere else to go."
Franklin Graham called on the nation to return to its Christian roots: "We see that as a nation we have turned our back on God. We've taken God out of school. We've taken him out of government. We've taken him out of public life.
"We need to put God back in these areas. We need God's help. Only God can heal our land and bring us together."
“There is a difference,” she courageously answered,” your country prays. Ours let it happen. I see the people fighting back in prayer. I see the church standing up against the New World Order. I see the people refuse to take God our of their nation. For this reason, I believe America will stand strong, and keep her freedom. I for one will continue to pray for this country I call my own. I may be an immigrant, but I am also am American who loves this country.
The sun had now set over the ocean, while the glowing orange hues lit the sky.
Suddenly the words to our national anthem came to my heart,
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say, does that Star-spangled Banner still wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
“Mary,’ I said grabbing her arm, “don’t worry, you won’t lose your country.”
Looking at her straight in the eyes, I said reassuringly “I promise. Americans are fighters, and we won’t lose our freedoms.”