Venezuela: The Demise of a Democracy
Political structure is comprised of a complex spectrum, and one may fall anywhere within that spectrum, but if you lean too closely to either edge, this line becomes a seesaw. If you find yourself in the middle, it’s easier to compromise and find a balance.
Welcome to Venezuela, where I spent the first three years of my life. This is a classic example of leftist ideologies gone wrong. Ordinarily, either end of the spectrum can easily lead to tyranny, and we can attest that Venezuela’s government certainly does not believe in middle ground.
Venezuela, as of late, has been garnering international attention, but we have been silently suffering for nearly two decades.
If you’re struggling to keep up with Latin American news, or you have not studied the region (or specifically Venezuela), there are a few things you should know from an emotional standpoint—things that can be blamed on corruption, endless violations of human rights, and alas the government itself.
In 1999, Hugo Chavez became the Venezuelan president. Chavez did initially appeal to the uneducated and poverty-ridden individuals; they voted for him in mass numbers. But there has been foul play to elect his successor, Nicolás Maduro. This has been extremely difficult for Venezuelans everywhere to endure. I had to stand by, waiting for my grandparents and uncles to realize that the crisis was not by any means getting better. In fact, by the time they realized this, it had become a competitive process to obtain legal U.S. entry.
Recent migration to the U.S. has been inevitably triggered by various socioeconomic events, such as ransom-inspired kidnappings and a massive inflation rate that only continues to rise.
As a college student in America, we are encouraged to protest unjust causes—and, more importantly, we are encouraged to speak up against the government and lobby against issues that hurt us. In Venezuela, college students and journalists are being killed and imprisoned merely for speaking their minds; the oppressive regimen must discontinue, though this very possibility is not looking too promising. It might be decades before Venezuelans return to safety. In the meantime, it is best to pressure the United Nations to intervene by sanctioning the government and helping Venezuelans restart their lives (helping them find jobs elsewhere, for example).
Those suffering the consequences of an unbelievably high inflation rate (caused by irresponsible governance, perpetuated by the Maduro administration) should receive assistance before the regimen pulls a 20th-century Cuba and closes its borders.
For my part, I’m spreading awareness. I’m not an elected official (though perhaps someday I will be), but I intend to help in the ways that I can. During the summer of 2017, I voted NO; the Venezuelan opposition created a voting opportunity for Venezuelans in and out of the country, bringing massive waves of Venezuelans to polls worldwide. This was a chance for Venezuelans to unofficially speak up and show the world that Venezuelans do not, in fact, stand with the government.
I voted NO to communism, and, as a result, YES to democracy as well as to the values that Americans hold dear (despite a current president that, unfortunately, undermines these values).
I am very grateful for the life that my parents could provide for me due partly to the “American Dream’” and working hard. Growing up, I didn’t understand why my mom spent her days pining over her patria, her beautiful Venezuela, her Caracas del alma. It was a foreign concept to me, wanting to return to a third-world country such as Venezuela after having lived in the U.S. for what’s basically my entire life.
But now, I understand—not only was it her home, but it was a different Venezuela, one that she knows she can’t return to, even if she did return to the land.
So, with that in mind, I realize that she doesn’t mean she wants to return to Venezuela (at least not in the way that it is now), but that she wants the beautiful past back—the one that she grew up in and hoped her children would grow up in as well.
We, Venezuelans, often wonder how many atrocious human rights violations the government must commit before any powerful entity intervenes…but perhaps the pressures that Latin American countries have been placing on the U.N. as of late will spark action.
Until it is sanctioned, I won’t rest – but I’m also not holding my breath.