By Luciana Paz
I am not Venezuelan, but I stand with Venezuela and it’s Libertad. I stand with my dozens of Venezuelan friends, colleagues and neighbors. I stand with the millions of Venezuelans who have been left with nothing, but their strength to survive and intense hope to fight for their freedom and democracy. I stand with humanity because what has been done to these people is a crime against their basic human rights.
As Venezuelan comedian and youtuber Joanna Hausmann explains, there have been large amounts of misinformation and oversimplification about the situation in Venezuela and there is nothing simple about it. This crisis and anger started a long time ago with a mix of socialist policies; inequality; raw materials such as oil, corruption, economic recession; and emersion of criminal business like drug trafficking. I recommend reading Moises Naim and Francisco Toro’s essay, Venezuela’s Suicide: Lessons From a Failed State, to understand the anatomy behind what has been going down these couple of weeks.
What is happening right now in Venezuela is not a U.S. military backed cue. Although, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have mentioned the idea of using military force, the idea would have to go through U.S. Congress, which is hard enough to bypass especially if it means it would result in another Iraq or Libya, in terms of overthrowing leadership.
Force is dangerous and if used it would result in more chaos and instability, which can inevitability jeopardise what venezuelans are looking for: democracy. It seems like history is repeating itself for the region of Latin America but it is rhyming and the next stanza is very unclear.
What is clear today is that the Venezuelan people are fighting for fair democratic elections and the world has to back them. They want a democratic government that protects them from human right abuse, not a dictatorship that is afflicting them with it.
The Venezuelan crisis is not a fight about ideology; this is not a fight between the left and right wing, but rather it is “a fight of a great majority of Venezuelans to democratically get rid of an illegitimate and punitive dictatorship,” said Hausmann. “A dictatorship responsible for countless human right abuses.”
A study released by the opposition controlled National Assembly says that the annual inflation rate reached 1,300,000 percent in the 12 months to November 2018. This hyperinflation is “arguably the biggest problem facing Venezuelans in their day-to-day lives,” according to BBC News. This has left prices to double every 19 days on average, pushing 61 percent of Venezuelans to live in extreme poverty, with 89 percent of those surveyed saying they do not have the money to buy enough food for their families or basic items like toiletries according to the Council on Foreign Affairs.
The abuse has gone to the point where 64 percent reported have lost an average of 24 pounds in body weight due to hunger. The worst part is that Nicolas Maduro, who on Jan. 10 “won” a sham election for another six year presidential term, has blocked humanitarian aid in Colombian border to come in. This aid could potentially save many from hunger and diseases that would otherwise have already been eradicated. This to me is not what a responsible government does to its people, even if the aid is coming from a country who you don’t politically align with.
It is because of this inhuman treatment that I reject Maduro’s actions and support Juan Guiado as the interim president of Venezuela.
According to CNN World, It is important to understand that Guiado did not just declare himself president , he was elected by the National Assembly to be the leader to assume presidency “temporarily” in this “vacuum of power.”
In 2017, this National Assembly, the only opposition government institution, had its power taken by Maduro’s party. Maduro later hand picked his own assembly with people that agreed with him.
In 2019, with this new congress, he called for presidential elections. Maduro obviously won because the opposition had never had the chance to run anyway, as candidates were deprived from doing so either because they were jailed, exiled or banned.
Hausmann breaks down this illegitimacy very simply by taking an American hypothetical scenario. Imagine when the democratic party took the house and President Trump said he didn’t like the fact that one part of congress didn’t agree with him. As as a result, he declares the house and Nancy Pelosi legitimate. Not only would Democrats be enraged, but also all those who believe in fair and transparent democracy too.
This is an important comparison because it puts the situation in perspective not only as an American but also as a Bolivian, whose country is also dealing with undemocratic issues as well. This is real and it is closer to home than you think.
If you see your Instagram feed and have some Venezuelan classmates on there, you can see that they are fighting wholeheartedly. You’ve seen stories and posts of massive protests and hundreds of brave civilians in the streets as well as those just speaking out, being detained, tortured and murdered for a right that should be a given:the right for free, transparent and legitimate presidential elections in accordance with the Venezuelan constitution.
I am with the 80 percent of Venezuelans, who according to the Herald Tribune, disapprove of Maduro’s government. I am with the 50 countries, a list that includes socialist governments, that recognized Guiado as the interim president. Venezuela you are not alone.
you can reach Luciana Paz at firstname.lastname@example.org