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COLUMN: Pay more attention to Venezuela


By Neeta Patwari



Out of disgust for the present state of American politics, I’ve been focusing more of my attention on international news, specifically in Venezuela.

Apart from the usual monotony of headlines that populate my news feed – Trump visiting Saudi Arabia, the French presidential election and the girls who were captured and returned by Boko Haram – there’s a developing international crisis equally deserving of a place on the global stage.

Amidst an exponential inflationary period in its economy, Venezuela is currently undergoing large civil unrest, resulting in devastating effects for its people’s human rights.

In response to this crisis, American president Donald Trump imposed sanctions on the judges of the Venezuelan Supreme Court, calling the situation horrendous.

If this nation, one of the world’s largest oil exporters, continues to destabilize, an influx of illegal immigration to Central America and the United States could occur. Looking closely at the state of the region, it’s easy to see why.

There are shortages in food, including staples like corn flour and medicine. The lines for these essential supplies are so long that people are often forced to wait several hours and can still be denied these basic necessities.

Saturday marked the 50th day of continuous protest in Caracas, Venezuela’s capital.

The protesters were there to ask their government for more food, to address inflation and to put an end to human rights violations.

Meanwhile, there have been 50 assassinations in Venezuela during the 
protests.

In order to understand the extent of this human rights crisis, it’s important to understand the country’s background.

When former president Hugo Chávez was in power in the early 2000s, he nationalized several private corporations, many of which were in the agricultural sector.

This, coupled with the fall of international oil prices — the main source of Venezuela’s economic success — are some of the principle reasons why many Venezuelans blame their government for increasing food prices.

There is a consistent complaint that the government is focusing more on remaining in power rather than governing.

The opposition party is currently keeping pace. However, their focus seems to be on promoting a more conservative agenda, while a survey done by Hinterlaces, a polling agency, found the majority of Venezuelans just want the government to focus on addressing the current economic crisis instead of new government programs.

Unfortunately, the government isn’t representing its citizens very well.

In February, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela denied subsidized medical supplies from the World Health Organization and the National Assembly’s bill to allow medical imports was also rejected by the 
government.

The world needs to pay more attention to Venezuela. The crisis should be viewed with an international lens and international pressure should be placed on President Nicolás Maduro to accept foreign aid.

When the world focuses more attention on a certain region, there is usually more of a response from that region in the face of such international pressure. We have an obligation as journalists and concerned human beings to know what is going on in the world.

Venezuela should be receiving more international attention in order to prevent the disregard for human life that is occurring here. To me, that means a much more active investigation into its current state of events.

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