Venezuela’s cry for help

Photo By SoyMAM via Wikimedia

Patricia Segovia/Staff Writer

My mom lives in a pretty secure and pleasant neighborhood in Caracas. She was walking back home from a friend’s house around 6:15 p.m., so it was getting dark. When my mom and her friend were about fifty feet from reaching the guard house of her street, they saw two men on a motorbike who turned around twenty feet in front of them and stopped right next to them. One of the men ordered them from the top of his voice to stand against the wall, and to give him the bags, he then showed them a gun he had under his sweatshirt and screamed that he would kill them. My mom’s friend was in shock, but my mom had been robbed three times in the last two years, so she was the one to react. She immediately gave him the handbag and her friend did the same. The man put both bags around his arm and took off.

The level of insecurity in Venezuela has gone out of hand. People can’t use their cellphones in public places, wear jewelry or own a decent car without the fear that they might get robbed. They can’t go out to restaurants or bars without the concern that they might be kidnapped, regardless if it’s day or night. Citizens are afraid to walk in the streets of their own neighborhoods. This violence has remained for the past decade and people are tired of it and are especially upset that the government isn’t doing anything to improve this situation.

Feb. 12 was the day when thousands of citizens, mostly university students, went out to the streets of Caracas to protest against the government of Nicolas Maduro, who followed Hugo Chavez’s administration. The protests were aimed towards the insecurity, unpunished violence, the political corruption and the great economic crisis that the country has been facing for a while now.

The protests have continued on a daily basis in various cities of the country. What started as a peaceful student protest has turned into a political revolt between the opposition party and the socialist government.

According to a Venezuelan non-governmental organization, innocent students have been captured and tortured by the national police and several have been shot to death during the protests.

Opposition leader Leopoldo López was put under arrest by the national police for causing social agitation and encouraging anti-government protests. Despite the arrest, the students have remained in the streets facing the military police to “fight for a better future, for what is the point of staying at home and not risking your life in the protests if you can die as a victim of violence right outside your home?,” as they said. Marta Colomina, reporter of Venezuelan newspaper El Universal, established: “There is savagism. The opposition has become resistance.”

National violence is not the only problem affecting Venezuelan citizens. There’s also a lot of food shortages. People can’t find basic supplies like milk, rice and toilet paper, and when they arrive to a supermarket, they have to wait in long queues to obtain them. The same fact is occurring along the medical industry. There is a lack of medicines in pharmacies and of necessary instruments in hospitals such as baby incubators.

The government has banned media communications by closing and buying TV channels and obstructing the supply of paper to certain newspapers as they fear the spread of information both locally and worldwide regarding Venezuela’s current situation. The government is also trying to avoid the creation of awareness in other parts of the world.

As  students of FIU in Miami, home to many Venezuelan citizens, we can help Venezuela by informing others about what’s happening. By sharing Facebook posts, Instagram photos, Tweets or simply bringing it up in conversation.

Nowadays everything is broadcasted rapidly through social networks, so we must take advantage of this and get to action. What began with a few people of different countries showing their support to Venezuela has now turned into thousands of men and women supporting the cause worldwide. People are using hashtags like #SOSVenezuela #PrayForVenezuela and #ImYourVoiceVenezuela to spread the word.

Little by little we can cooperate to help the home country of our friends and coworkers achieve historical change. No more corruption, no more violence, no more unpunished crime, no more food shortages, no more media blackouts, no more political persecution, no more injustice.

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