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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

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Educating students on Venezuela is imperative


The humanitarian crisis in Venezuela affects nations all over the world, not just the citizens dealing with the daily consequences. | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The United Socialist Party in Venezuela has been a ticking time bomb since President Hugo Chávez took office in 1999.

While promising prosperity, The United Socialist Party, with Chávez at its head, has only delivered poverty. Nicolás Maduro, Chávez’s successor and the current president of Venezuela, has done nothing to help the impoverished Venezuelan citizens trapped in the wake of an economic catastrophe— if anything he has created a deeper hole that Venezuelans will inevitably have to crawl out of.

In recent months there have been riots in Venezuela almost daily at the nation’s capitol, Caracas. The people are starving, there’s not enough electricity, and the crime rates are through the roof.

In 2016 the Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia estimated a homicide rate of 91.8 per 100,000 residents— that is over 18 times the rate in the United States. This means Venezuela has the second highest homicide rate not including countries currently at war.  

It has been reported that over 80 percent of cases involving resisting authorities resulted in death.

Instead of protecting the Venezuelan citizens, the government is seeking to control them and using lethal means against those who oppose the government. While many have been able to find refuge in other countries, there are millions who are suffering and fighting for a better life.

Recently, Venezuela held a Constituent Assembly vote to elect a legislative body that will reform the constitution. Maduro’s party won with a sweep of every single seat in the new legislative body.

Maduro claims that voter turnout for the election was 41 percent , however, the opposition along with many Venezuelan citizens argue that voter turnout was closer to 12 percent. Even then, the odds of a complete sweep of the legislature are outlandish at best. Maduro’s actions simply work to reaffirm the evidence of corruption within the Venezuelan government.

This is just a small fraction of what is happening in Venezuela, the injustices people face on a daily basis are ever present. Furthermore it does not just affect those living in Venezuela but their families, friends, and expats living all over the world. Venezuela’s crumbling political climate and lack of economic stability are issues that affect United States citizens, residents and green card holders.

The University of Houston itself has a Venezuelan Student Union, where students can come together in order to “promote the cultural values of Venezuela, while helping their members integrate and connect with their fellow countrymen and keeping a focus on academic excellence, supporting Venezuelan affairs and informing the Houston community on the current socio-economic situation in Venezuela.”

For many of the students with family and friends in Venezuela, myself included, it can be an incredibly difficult situation to be in. Knowing your loved ones are at danger when you can do little to help them from here is infuriating. The socio-economic climate in Venezuela is so rarely covered in mainstream media that few people understand what is going on. That ends here.

The University of Houston is one of the most diverse colleges in the nation and as students, it is our duty to inform and educate others on our cultures.

Assistant arts editor Karin Keller is an art history and English junior and can be reached at [email protected]

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