By now, most of the world has heard that protests are occurring in Venezuela at this moment. Many who follow the news daily may be up to date on the causes, current events, and what the protests may spell for Venezuela’s future. Many may not. I was approached by a current Thunderbird student, Fabian Gutierrez, to write a summary of what has occurred so far, and give voice to his ‘in country” perspective on the movement.
Fabian told me stories of his family’s inability to buy basic goods without using the black market. These are items like milk, flour, and toilet paper. All the strict price controls on these items, placed by the government, has caused inflation to soar above 50%.
As a student-led protest, they have faced much of the violence from the military and ‘Colectivos paramilitary groups,’ who are not bound by law. This has caused Fabian’s hometown of Merida, a large university town, to be practically impossible to navigate for his family back home. Luckily, he says, his father has a large freezer full of food available in the interim.
The people of Venezuela have no access to truthful national media. Fabian mentioned one instance during these protests that Maduro, the current president of Venezuela, was dancing on television, as if unaware of what was happening in the streets of Caracas. The main forms of truthful information are accessed via social networks like Twitter and Facebook, which is also a way for the world to view Venezuela’s struggles. “A video doesn’t lie,” Fabian stated.
It is too early to say what will happen in Venezuela. What is evident is that citizens are sick of the corruption, violence, and lack of economic progress Venezuela has displayed over the past fifteen years since Chavez took power. Surrounding Latin American countries have made great economic strides during the same period, and with improvement in governance, Venezuela could see the same gains.