Reminding us of crisis in Venezuela



Government supporters arrive for the first day of the “Hands off Venezuela” three-day music festival at the Tienditas International Bridge, in Venezuela on the border with Colombia, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. Venezuela’s power struggle is set to convert into a battle of the bands Friday when musicians demanding Nicolas Maduro allow in humanitarian aid and those supporting the embattled leader’s refusal sing in rival concerts being held at both sides of a border bridge where tons of donated food and medicine are being stored. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

For most, going to visit grandparents includes a drive down the countryside, or maybe walking right down the street. For someone from Venezuela however, a call with terrible connection through Whatsapp is the usual for communication with loved ones who remain trapped in that “republic.” 

My immediate family was lucky enough to leave Venezuela before the crisis truly turned into a human rights violation. As I watched my cousins, aunts, and even my grandparents, struggling to leave the country for several years, I felt angry. I never understood why they couldn’t just leave like my parents did when they were younger, but as I grew older, I learned about all the issues that are covered in this article, and realized why it was such a daunting task. For a 17 year old high school student, I feel there is not much I can do to help, but one small way I can is just by writing this article. If even one person can learn about this crisis, then I feel it is a step in the right direction. 

When most people think of countries that are in need of help, the first thought may be Ukraine or even Afghanistan. For some reason, Venezuela manages to fly under the radar of the average person. However, it is a country diseased by hyperinflation, extreme violence by the government and gang activity, and severe resource shortage that is in desperate need of help now more than ever.

Getting into all the complications of a nation as troubled as this warrants a 50,000 page essay, so here’s a rundown. 

To begin, Venezuela is NOT a federal presidential republic. It is a twisted socialist nation that has transformed further and further into a dictatorship. Sparked by a coup d’etat attempt by Hugo Chavez in the 90’s that put him into the spotlight, he soon forced his way into office through false election results. 

After that, he continued his regime and under his reign, and the reign of Nicolas Maduro, the right hand man of Chavez and his eventual replacement, Venezuela experienced countless human right violations. The military was controlled by Chavez/Maduro and their underlings, and through this they were able to easily keep control of the nation. They also managed to gain control of the judiciary, the electoral council, and the supreme court. 

According to the BBC, “they had been engaged in a pattern of systematic violence since 2014, aimed at suppressing political opposition and generally terrorizing the population and [the UN] found that Maduro and the ministers of interior and defense were not only aware of the crimes, but gave orders, coordinated operations and supplied resources.”

Besides the countless political problems, they face extreme resource shortage as well. I will never forget the look on my mother’s face when my uncle passed away during the 2019 extreme blackouts that Venezuela faced. He had been suffering for a long time, and he could not even die in the comfort of a hospital bed. Many others have similar stories. 

Even food and clean water is a problem. According to the UN, 1 in 3 venezuelans are “food insecure”. 

And for the children, it is even worse. In a study done by the Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, they found that 42% of over 46,000 measurements taken from children in Venezuela’s poorest neighborhoods reflect stunting or wasting. In simple terms, 42% of Venezuelan children in the poorest neighborhoods are not growing up normally due to food shortage.  As for water, 8/10 Venezuelans do not have access to consistently clean water according to UNICEF. 

One final point that should be made is the immigration crisis Venezuela is facing. As a result of the political and economic issues previously mentioned, they face one of the largest immigration crisis’s in history. So far, 6.1 million people have fled to other nations, whether it be on a plane, or even on foot. Nowadays, without an exorbitant amount of money, fleeing the country to somewhere like the United States is impossible. Most Venezuelans who have fled have been displaced to countries surrounding Venezuela, such as Colombia and Peru. 

As citizens in the United States, it is easy to just ignore the crises that are occurring around the world. They seem like they are a whole planet away, so why bother? This is the dangerous mentality that has led many people to become ignorant to the problems of our world. As people lucky enough to live in the USA, we need to be more focused on helping others who are struggling rather than fighting over trivial matters that would pale in significance if we stepped foot in a country like Venezuela. 

Here are some charities where people can donate: