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Venezuelans call out their government; the world hears

by Breonnah Colón - Lifestyles Editor
Tue, Apr 3rd 2018 10:00 pm

Financial disparity, questionable leadership, police brutality: these are all things which have become heavily associated with and constantly commented on by Americans. In fact, it is almost impossible nowadays to discuss the current state of the country without mentioning any of these social and political issues. However, what many Americans seem to either forget or not be aware of altogether, is the fact that we are not the only ones to be plagued by these issues.

Americans living in the United States seem to live under the impression that they are called “American” as a result of their country of origin. To a certain extent, this is true. We do, in fact, live in The United States of America. 

However, the “America” in our name refers to the fact that our country exists on the continent of North  America. Our sister continent, South America, is host to Americans also, living in countries such as Peru, Chile and Venezuela. We find that the Americans from South America, specifically in Venezuela, suffer from the same issues we do, except at a much greater cost.

The country has been making headlines for over a year now as a result of the intense socioeconomic and political crises which have been steadily afflicting its people. Perhaps the largest and most well-known of these afflictions is the shortage of food, which has resulted in widespread panic as well as violent riots and attacks against the police and fellow countrymen alike. 

In the summer of 2017, newspapers across the world highlighted the severity of the country’s situation, pictures of Venezuelans rioting and protesting were read across all news outlets, regardless of their political stance. While many of us may have forgotten about the crisis, the country’s people still have not seen any decline in their struggles, and it seems as if a solution is nowhere to be found.

According to fortune.com, as recent as January of this year, mobs of people “ransacked” a food collection center and a supermarket in the state of Merida, where four people died and 10 were injured. Regardless of the obvious discontent of his people and the dire situation they are facing, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has not done much to stave the tensions threatening to explode across the country. 

Maduro has now taken action on political figures or other leaders who oppose his leadership. These such individuals have been imprisoned as a result of their defiance and criticism. This sort of reaction, or rather lack thereof, is the result of a long history in which  leaders took power from the people and gave it to lawmakers.

The Council on Foreign Relations explains  that the circumstances currently facing Venezuela have been long coming. Hugo Chavez, who was president between 1998 and 2013, began the trend with promises to use the countries plentiful oil resource as a way to assist and nurture lower class citizens in need. 

What ended up happening though was less of an internalization of wealth for the country, and more like an expansion of wealth for Venezuelan elites at the cost of lower class individuals. In addition to selling millions of acres to foreign companies, Chavez also managed to annihilate any regulation on the Venezuelan presidency term period. This effectively allowed him to rule for the duration of his life — a luxury his predecessor now has.

On a general political level, the country is facing deplorable conditions, which just serve to worsen the situations faced by the biggest victims of all: Venezuelans themselves. The most recent account of the devastation felt by citizens was a jailhouse fire which killed 78 Venezuelans, leaving many family members distraught and without answers. 

According to The Guardian, a prison designed to hold up to a mere 60 people, but was housing over 100 erupted in flames outside Valencia, Carabobo State. 

While waiting to receive news of whether their loved ones were among the victims, family members were sprayed with pepper spray. Identification of victims was so lax, some families were told their loved ones were dead, only to discover the opposite was true. This situation is only an extreme example of the corroding state of the country.

As Americans, we tend to get caught up in our own problems, as so many countries do. However, we should always take time to make the effort to learn about and respect the way our brethren live in lands that seem so far, but are really much closer than we think. After all, our realities aren’t much different from those living in “the other America.” 




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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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