Everyone is entitled to have an opinion. Whether left, right; socialist, capitalist; Democrat, Republican; liberal or conservative; that is a different story. However, having an opinion is a right. I have a political inclination; yet, I am in the first place a libertarian. I believe that men are rational individuals and therefore worthy of respect. Thus, acknowledging a man’s dignity is accepting their freedom to choose. I would need more than just a few pages to outline all the different reasons why I am opposed to the current government of Venezuela. Nonetheless, the foremost reason for my stand is that for the past fifteen years, the Venezuelan people have lived under the command of a government that has done nothing else but to cover its eyes and deny to its people what I think is a person’s most essential right: the right to express and choose for themselves.
Since 1999 when Hugo Chávez came to power, he devoted himself to what I consider is a suicidal mission: to implement a socialist “Bolivarian Revolution.” That is, to put into practice “popular democracy”, “equal distribution of revenues”, “autarky”, and an “end to political corruption”. Yet, what Chávez’s “motherland, socialism or death” quest actually accomplished was to terminate all private television channels, suppress free speech, give away free oil to autocratic regimes and achieve a remarkably poor status for the country in business competitiveness: Venezuela ranked 134th out of 148 countries in last year’s World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report. Chavez turned the state that used to be a beacon of prosperity in the region into Latin America’s most dangerous country, empty-out the shelves of the grocery stores throughout the nation; and the list just goes on and on. In other words, what Hugo Chávez did was to follow the Cuban model and impose a dictatorship in every sense of the word.
Hugo Chávez was a nightmare for Venezuela. Although he passed away from cancer last year, the seeds he planted in his country still carry his poison. Through electoral manipulation his party was able to stay in power; and even though now under the dictate of Nicolás Maduro, the current president, the government has kept on rotting more and more from the inside out.
There still is hope for the country, however. As Leopoldo López, the leader of one of the opposition groups in Venezuela, has said “We are on the right side of history.” There is no more room for governmental repression in society. People have been silenced for too long and are not going to allow this to happen any longer. Uttermost, Venezuelans are not going to sit and watch how their country goes on free-fall, while simultaneously their freedom to choose and to act as rational individuals is taken away from them by an almighty government. It was the generalized powerlessness caused by the people’s acute lack of freedom which made the support for the opposition group grow and materialize in the shape of peaceful protests held first by students and then by thousands of citizens all around the country which started on February 12. Yet, as a typical trait of any authoritarian regime, in absence of a response, the government is retaliating with bullets. Sadly as it is, the panorama does not look good as the abuses increase exponentially hour by hour.
The Venezuelan people are fighting for the noblest cause that exists: their freedom. However, they are in a situation of complete vulnerability although they are within the borders of their country, supposedly any local’s safe heaven. Yes, I am certain that sooner or later they will achieve their goals; nevertheless, the later both the international media and the international community react and impose pressure on the Venezuelan government, the more bloodshed there will be.
-Camila Ortiz de Zevallos