Fearless Venezuelans: Country Under Construction

“I hope they have milk and flour this time.” This is not a rare wish for Venezuelans nowadays. When was the last time you wondered whether basic staples would be stocked on the shelves of your grocery stores? While some of us are preoccupied with preparing for final exams or graduation, students in Venezuela have much more to worry about. A deluge of protests have been filling the streets of Venezuela ever since the start of a student-led protest that began in February. The people of Venezuela have been shaken and stripped of their basic rights, yet their hope for a better tomorrow has remained. Inside each of us is the desire for happiness and freedom, and the Venezuelan people have decided that it is time to fight for what they deserve.

The anger and frustration felt by the Venezuelan people stems back to a decade of social, political, and economic turmoil. President Nicolas Maduro inherited a crisis dating back to the reign of the late Hugo Chavez. According to the majority of Venezuelans, Maduro has only increased their laundry list of woes. 

Associated Press

Necessities disappearing widen the gap between rich and poor. These shortages are a reflection of the crippled economy where inflation has risen to 56%.

eluniversal.com

So when is it enough? Through protests, Venezuelans have demonstrated their courage while spotlighting the issue. College students trade their books for picket signs and stand fearless against their government: “Mom, I have left to fight for Venezuela. If I do not return, I have left with her.”

     

BBC News

With 41 lives lost and hundreds detained, the Venezuelan government responds by tear-gassing its people, blacking out the media, and arresting protestors.

Venezuelan-native and Florida State Graduate student Pradiip Alvarez shares with us the goal of the Venezuelan uprising:

“The world needs to understand that protests in Venezuela are not ideological. They are not about left vs. right. We want to live in a country where we can walk around without fearing for our lives. We want a government that promotes peace, prosperity, and progress. Ultimately, we are fighting for a prosperous and bright future; one where natural and human resources are effectively used to generate prosperity instead of misery.”

Alvarez, an inspiring activist pursing his Masters in International Affairs, has successfully advocated for Venezuela here in Tallahassee. In 2011, he co-founded the Venezuelan Student Association at Florida State, which strives to unite all Venezuelans on campus while still promoting the country’s positive aspects. He also served as an ambassador for Venezuela at the One Young World 2013 conference in South Africa. This conference brings together young leaders from all over the globe, and allowed Alvarez and his colleague to expose the reality of Venezuela to 1,300 representatives.

Having lived in Venezuela since he was 16, Alvarez can vouch for the natural beauty and richness of his country. It is home to the snowcapped Andes, Angel Falls - the world’s tallest waterfall (Up, anyone?) where the tropics mingle with clouds, and the world’s largest oil reserves.

airpano.com

According to Alvarez, his country has been rapidly changing in negative ways, becoming one of the most violent countries in the world. It was four years ago that Alvarez’s father was victim to the violence occurring under the Chavista regime. His anger and sadness have transformed into hope and strength for a peaceful and prosperous Venezuela.

A message often heard is, “Do not cry for Venezuela, fight for her.” Even through the darkest of skies, hope is alive and well in the hearts of Venezuelans and its supporters.

Alvarez leaves us with this message: “Venezuelans are tired of simply surviving; we want to truly live with dignity. Venezuelans peaceful demonstration will only get larger and stronger. For every Venezuelan detained, tortured, wounded, or murdered during protests, thousands more will flood the streets. There is no going back. Venezuelans deserve better and we will achieve it.”

Read more about Pradiip Alvarez in his Campus Celebrity feature.