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José David Chaparro is a Venezuelan citizen who had been living in Ukraine for more than seven years before the war began. He did not hesitate to stay and fight in defense of the country’s freedom.
From his home-turned-shelter, Chaparro gave an interview to El American in which he described how civil society managed to organize together with the Army for territorial defense. He also explained what happened in cities such as Bucha and Irpin, which were razed by the Russians.
On community organizing
How did they organize themselves to defend the capital of Ukraine?
“In relation to the communities and how we have organized ourselves, it is something that came overnight. We knew there were troops on the border, we knew there were difficult winds coming up, but no one expected this violent wave to break overnight,” he explained.
“February, 23 dawned with fire in the sky, it dawned with artillery, with air raids, and in a matter of hours it took for the citizenry to get organized. You cannot imagine the lines of civilians, like me, who went to register, to sign a volunteer contract with the Army and the territorial defense. We received weapons, training and we organized ourselves according to the places where we lived,” he said.
Atrocities in Bucha
What happened in Irpin and Bucha?
Chaparro explained that Irpin and Bucha were residential towns that are very close to Kyiv, towns that were taken by the Russians, but which, thanks to the Ukrainian special forces, were retaken. However, the human and material losses are uncountable.
“They [the Russians] settled in cities like Bucha and Irpin, within the civilian population, that is, they used the civilian population as a shield and when in a housing development, when in some neighborhoods the military gets in and starts attacking from civilian houses, the response cannot be immediate because if we respond immediately we would kill a lot of people,” he explained.
“The invader protected itself, armored itself with civilians and for this type of actions there are also the special forces that were the ones that repelled and began to do a gradual work with weeks of fighting in those towns (…) When you have the enemy that protects itself in houses where there are schools, where there are hospitals, they protect themselves and begin to attack from there, imagine how difficult the situation is. People are caught in the crossfire and, of course, the casualties increase even more,” he added.
Chaparro, who hours before this interview visited Bucha and Irpin to bring supplies and food, said that the Russians withdrew from those cities leaving mines everywhere.
“They mined fields, houses, bodies that were down. Bodies were left with mine traps and now the mines are not like the ones we knew that were like a big plate. Now modern mines are small and the one who does not know them, steps on them and blows gets blown up,” he explained.
When asked what has been the hardest thing he has experienced, José David explained that it has been seeing “other people’s pain.”
“It has been hard to see small children hit by traps and fire, people who have lost their minds, who have lost everything and have been left with only what they had on, every day is different, there is always something that could be worse,” he recounted in dismay.
“The West turned us into a shooting range, a testing laboratory.”
Chaparro, who is an expert in international law and diplomacy, criticized the West’s reaction to the war. He assures that the United States and Europe made Ukraine “a shooting range and a testing laboratory while everyone stayed as observers.”
“This is a war that was induced, it is true that there is a past, but there was an eagerness of the European Community to help Ukraine get involved in this event… there is a double face here and I think it is nothing new. On the one hand, they induced Ukraine to go to war, and on the other hand, when we already entered the conflict, they stayed as observers for a long time,” he criticized.
“Concrete help started to arrive later and it was not even serious or effective, so that we can feel that they are really helping us, they are drops of water that they simply send from time to time so that it remains as a record of help,” he added.
“We have received help from foreign people who have come here to fight, I myself have received some of them; they are volunteers like me who simply have another nationality and come to fight without any kind of interest, but we have not received much foreign military aid, I think all of that is propaganda,” he said.
“Here, people have defended themselves with the weapons they had, with the people who are here and with the courage of each one of them (…) For me, the United States has not played a very important role in this case. I believe that they have turned us into a shooting range, a test laboratory where they are simply observers”, he stated.
On Zelensky’s resilience
“If Zelensky were a traditional politician he would have sold Ukraine.”
Regarding the role of President Volodymyr Zelensky, Chaparro did not hesitate to defend the position of the president, who keeps Ukraine standing up for itself. He considers that Zelensky is a brave man who deserves all the recognition for not giving in to Russia and for keeping on fighting.
“In my personal opinion, President Zelensky is not a career politician. He comes from another field because he is an actor, he is a comedian who knew how to win the sympathy of the people and they took him as a new alternative to be president. That has a pro and a con as everything in life. For me the pro is that his innocence, his lack of experience, has made his romanticism make him be much braver and much more optimistic than a career politician”, he said.
“Because a traditional politician would have made a pact with the Russians and sold half the country leaving with his pockets full of money; but the innocence of that gentleman [Zelensky], his lack of malice or knowledge of how things are handled at the political level, made him face this with a lot of optimism and a lot of courage,” he added.
“Zelensky does what a president has to do, he has stayed, he goes to the countryside, he visits people, he talks every day with a new Parliament, he lets the world know the reality of what we are living,” he said.
Ukraine will not be the same, but it will be better
For José David this war may last for a long time, but he assures that although Ukraine will no longer be the same, what is left of it territorially, will be much better.
“It is going to be better because the change of consciousness that the people are gaining, they did not have it two months ago. Now, we are in a moment in which the Ukrainian who went abroad already wants to return, wants to return to his homeland to work in the reconstruction of the country without having finished the war. That is to say, the spirit that is used to fight is also used to recover the nation,” he said.
Sabrina Martín Rondon is a Venezuelan journalist. Her source is politics and economics. She is a specialist in corporate communications and is committed to the task of dismantling the supposed benefits of socialism // Sabrina Martín Rondon es periodista venezolana. Su fuente es la política y economía. Es especialista en comunicaciones corporativas y se ha comprometido con la tarea de desmontar las supuestas bondades del socialismo