What’s Really Happening in Venezuela

By now you’ve probably heard news of all these different countries rebelling against their governments like Libya, Egypt, and Ukraine. Some of those conflicts started all the way back in 2011 but now Venezuela has been added to that list.

About a month ago, Venezuela’s students and millions of other people, a majority from the middle class, got fed up with how their own government was treating them and forcing them to live in fear. In 2013 alone, more than 25,000 murders were committed, there was a major increase in political prisoners, and Venezuela had one of the highest inflation rates in world, going over 50%.

But what you see and hear on the news isn’t even half the story because the Venezuelan government only releases their own propaganda, which, of course, is in their favor. They shut down  anyone trying to speak against them, even going as far as shutting down people’s social media accounts that had pictures or videos of the riots and deaths posted on them. To get a grip on what’s really happening in Venezuela at this very moment, you have to see it and hear it from the very people fighting for their lives.

I was born and raised in Venezuela, only moving to the U.S. at 7 years old because my father made the wise decision of getting out of there before things got even worse in 2003. There have been problems in Venezuela for more than two decades, starting as early as 1992, a year before my sister was born. Former President Hugo Chavez was already starting his reign of corruption. Things got even worse when he was elected president in 1999. Already in early 2000, the government was taking over companies, farms and industrial plants for their own inefficient use, thus hurting the economy.

Even as a young kid growing up in Venezuela, I could tell things were bad. You couldn’t have your phone out on the street or wear any visible jewelry in public for the fear of being robbed; basic items for sale in stores and supermarkets were ridiculously expensive; being out past sundown was a big risk especially when traveling long distances. The transition from inner city to the outskirts was as immense as many buildings lay in ruins. But even after all those things kept growing and getting more noticeable, the spirit and hope of the average Venezuelan was still there. Parties where thrown frequently and there was a huge sense of family everywhere you went because people could feel things weren’t getting better and we would have to rely on one another soon enough.

By 2003, my dad got sick of how people where living in Venezuela, especially the capital, Caracas, where we lived, and decided to move my mom, my sister and I to Florida. Things in Venezuela at that time were paradise compared to how things are now. I visited twice after moving to Florida, the most recent being Christmas of 2011, and I could tell things were getting desperate and you could literally feel the danger all around you. During all of this, the Venezuelan government has also let communist Cuban officials and militants take up roles in their government.

The situation in Venezuela got ten times worse in 2012 and kept multiplying by a hundred every year after that. Calls from our family in Venezuela got more and more depressing every day. Family members and friends where being robbed in broad daylight. They couldn’t find items like cooking oil and toilet paper in stores and if they did find some, it was way too overpriced or there was a limit on how much a person could buy. A cousin of mine who had a baby couldn’t find diapers or baby formula for weeks at a time. Going out even for work was getting too dangerous, but, still, people kept hope in their hearts and minds.

All this kept building up more and more tension between the government and the people until it finally exploded February 12, 2014. Riots, protests and marches are carried out every day with my very own family members participating in them knowing they could be killed by their very own police and military sworn to protect them. Innocent people being killed left and right, the government trying their hardest to cover it up while also arming the poor they brainwashed in their favor; homes getting broken into not to rob but to murder whoever is unfortunate enough to be inside and just a general sense of dread and anger shared by all.

My own parents are hundreds of miles away, stressed out by all the news they see and hear and I know they share the same feelings as me, of wanting to go stand up for own country but you can’t even book a flight to go over there and if you can you run the risk of being killed walking out of the airport. I do feel angry about what’s happening in my country at this very second but all I can do for now is hope my family stays safe and this communist government terrorizing their very own people gets overthrown, be it through peace or by violence.