Valentina Villafane was sitting in her second-grade classroom when the tear gas canister exploded. The principal of her private school outside Barquisimeto, Venezuela, saw it first — an errant volley from a national guardsman that flew between the bars of the school’s gate and rolled to the front door. The principal shouted for the students to run to the back of the building as gas plumed at the entrance.
As Valentina huddled with her classmates, teachers brought jars of vinegar from the cafeteria and showed the children how to apply it to their faces to protect against the gas. They waited for hours, trapped as desperate Barquisimetanos clashed with police outside.
“I was scared and I almost cried,” Valentina recalls in a telephone interview from Venezuela–where many live in dire poverty while the corrupt businessman who looted the country live lavishly in Houston and Miami.