For the past three-and-a-half months, Venezuelans have endured silence from the Bolivarian Republican Government. On Feb. 12, students utilized their voices and began protesting on the issues of criminal violence on the rise, inflation, lack of resources, and social division within their country.
As the American constitution states that we possess the freedom of speech, so do the people of Venezuela. What started off as a peaceful, calm protest turned into a raging warfare between the people and their authority. As the community spoke freely they were assaulted with deadly crowd control weaponry, which expressed the government’s take on the situation.
This repression only infuriated the students with motivation to reclaim their democracy, freedom of speech, respect for human rights and provide an answer to the severe lack of resources and food in the country.
Although violence is quite common here, the level to which it has risen is shocking. People running throughout the streets wearing masks to avoid tear gas bombs thrown by the National Guards; students as well as many other citizens getting beaten by the national guards; riot police in their tanks spraying highly pressurized water at protestors; murder after murder being reported when the intention clearly is to communicate unjust acts of the government’s role. It is the responsibility of these power holders to create change by interacting with their people.
One of the major issues that influences lack of resources is inflation, which has risen to 500 percent. Venezuela’s currency holds Bs 67,500.00 Bolivares Fuertes per dollar when their minimum wage averages at Bs 3,200.00 Bolivarian coins. This makes it almost impossible to meet one’s survival needs. Imagine as an American country a situation where we would have to buy milk for $12 by the gallon. How unreasonable is that? As of Thursday, April 10, 2014, during a dialogue between the opposition and government, the government admitted to the economic crisis and lack of food. The inflation is so extreme that store owners either jack the prices up to continue receiving products from outside their country, or cannot import food whatsoever. When questioned by the opposition as to why the political infrastructure chooses to keep this unreachable dollar value they answered that they strive to make a change within the country by making Venezuela independent without needing help from any outside sources. Unfortunately, once Chavez began his term in office he took away the country’s ability to independently manage themselves agriculturally, which contradicts the authority’s position completely. You can no longer find basics such as: chicken, milk, sugar, flour, coffee, diapers and toilet paper. It has come to a point where people are standing in lines at 3 a.m. for 8 hours to get any access to these limited, if not diminished, products.
Another major concerning issue is the social division this country has experienced for years and years. What it has led to is corruption, criminal violence, and kidnappings. Stores close between the hours of 3 to 5 p.m., and people no longer go out at night because it only heightens their chances of being kidnapped, although kidnappings occur at all times of the day.
Much of this has to do with lack of education. It is interesting because governments are supporting gangs that supposedly fight for the freedom of Venezuela to keep the peace in their country. Quite contradicting inequitable action there. Simultaneously, Maduro and his congressmen are striving to withhold the heart of the country by upholding the previous president, Chavez’s, so called standards. What it has now come down to is the chavistas, the deceased president’s supporters, and the opposition living in the same consequences. Although there are some who continue to believe in the Bolivarian Revolution that Chavez brought onto the people in 1999, majority of the population is becoming aware of this socioeconomic turmoil that Venezuela has encountered for the past few years.
Alongside the repression comes many ramifications that do not allow the citizens to be authentically heard. While people are getting murdered by National Guards and government supported gang municipalities, international newscasts –– like CNN and Globovision, for example –– are limited, if not blocked in its entirety by the Venezuelan government. Obviously there are hidden realities going on that need to be projected on a global scale. The strongest and only outlet that offers accuracy and factuality is social media’s such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Hashtags like #sosvenezuela, #prayforvenezuela, #sincensuras are updated hourly for those who choose to follow.
As the world progresses, materialism matures and it becomes much more attractive to continue living in a world of convenience. This only offers short term happiness. If we wish to obtain long term happiness then we must choose to live a sustainable lifestyle by recognizing that everything is connected. There is a domino effect amongst every action taken and not taken. Once we can accept this interconnectedness argument we can then become a community that works and lives together as one entity rather than small assemblies. Although great things have come in all shapes and sizes imagine what millions and billions of people can do in-sync. These citizens of Venezuela have pulled together to create a voice that is as strong and persistent as a beating drum. Do not let their actions go unjustified!
Educate yourself by becoming aware of the dire consequences this beautiful country faces. There is intrinsic and anthropocentric value that lies in this country that must be acknowledged. Venezuelans can teach us acts of friendliness, culture, and community. They can offer us recreation and potential oil access, for they are the largest oil reserves in the world. We need to pop this fanaticized bubble and look beyond greater concerns than materialism. Americans thrive off of this ‘more factor’ that blinds us from external issues other than our own. How do we as Americans want to be perceived? How do we want to be remembered? Let this be our opportunity to become closer and reach into others hearts without fear so that we can grow inwardly as a population.