In the aftermath of the renewal of mass protests in Venezuela, a failing state that each day finds itself stumbling closer toward complete anarchy, one can’t help but feel powerless when reports of tear gas flooding the streets of Caracas make headlines across the world.
Accounts of protesters being beaten or killed reinforce the tragic and oft-suppressed narrative of the downtrodden Venezuelan worker. In the city of Barquisimeto, a mother must cope with the unimaginable pain of burying her 13-year-old son after he was shot dead in the middle of a protest. Another life lost at the hands of a hopelessly autocratic government led by a man who would be quick to dismiss the embattled protesters as right-wing extremists or “bourgeois parasites,” as he has frequently put it.
President Nicolás Maduro’s insensitivity has drawn international attention to the true challenges facing Venezuela: dangerously high crime rates, political corruption on an unprecedented scale, skyrocketing inflation rates and lack of essential goods and resources.
UNIVEN, the University of Miami’s Venezuelan Student Association, has responded by collecting funds and medicines for those most deeply affected by the ongoing crisis. The association has also made efforts to keep the student body informed by setting up a table bearing the Venezuelan flag in the breezeway and distributing pamphlets detailing the country’s current state of affairs.
Normally, this would be the part where I unequivocally condemn the harsh, draconian polices of Nicolás Maduro and call for his immediate removal from office. However, recently, I have noticed a stunning and uncomfortable trend of Venezuelans like myself condemning the Bolivarian Revolution with limited coverage from American mainstream media. The fact is that Venezuelans have been condemning the Bolivarian Revolution since 1999, when late President Hugo Chávez took the reins of power and led the country’s people into a troubled abyss of chaos and suffering.
And yet, I have seen very little talk of Venezuela’s rapid decline on networks such as CNN, CBS, ABC or Fox News. Meanwhile, the BBC has run half-hour documentaries that highlight the most important aspects of Venezuela’s ongoing crisis.
Incessant condemnations serve no purpose if they aren’t being broadcast by large media networks, and mainstream media’s self-indulgent tendencies relegate the struggles of the Venezuelan people to a side story and diminish the efforts of groups like UNIVEN.
The reality is that the people of Venezuela need help from the rest of the world to be able to feed their children and walk safely at night without fear of violence. Each day, Venezuelans lose more of their democracy, rendering them incapable of resolving the situation on their own as Maduro’s government continues to stall free and fair elections. This is the reality to which the people and media networks of the world must open their eyes.
Israel Aragon Bravo is a sophomore majoring in psychology.