The Venezuelan people are the victims of their government’s actions.
To say that Venezuela is struggling is an understatement. The government is corrupt with a socialist party mismanaging the economy, the people are unhappy with their leaders and there’s no indication that it’s going to get easier.
The poverty rate is 82% and long lines at supermarkets and pharmacies have people waiting days for necessities. Because of low oil prices, the oil dependent economy is suffering from a lack of revenue.
The United States has also placed financial sanctions on Venezuelan government officials in response to their mistreatment of protesters in 2014, making it harder for their government to generate money from their oil trade and increasing tensions between the two countries.
Hyperinflation has caused food to stack up on store shelves because no one can afford the prices that stores demand. Banks have almost run out of cash. The people have been rioting in the streets to protest corruption in the government, and these riots have resulted in over 120 deaths.
A Venezuelan friend of mine told me stories about what his family has gone through during the crisis. His cousins came to visit him in Texas and they gorged themselves on food because they can’t afford to eat much back home. What’s most shocking was that they were in awe of toilet paper being so easily accessible.
The comforts and conveniences that we are accustomed to in the United States are luxuries for most Venezuelans. If we need medicine, we can go to the local pharmacy and choose from a multitude of options. Venezuelans must choose between food or medicine because both are scarce and expensive.
Our country needs to pay more attention to the Venezuelan people. We need to look at them as a people who need help, not as a government with which we disagree. The people shouldn’t be punished for the mistakes of their government and yet they’re the ones hit the hardest by the situation.
The financial sanctions put in place by the United States were in response to the socialist agenda by the current and the previous Venezuelan president. While the sanctions were put in place with the intention of helping everyday Venezuelans, they’ve had an adverse affect on the economy, which in turn has affected the people’s daily lives.
Instead of imposing our will on Venezuela, we should be sending them humanitarian aid. Their people are hungry and have very little access to basic human necessities. If our intention really is to help them, shouldn’t we provide aid on a public level instead of sanctioning their government?
The Venezuelan people are trying to live life just like us, but with great limitations. They’re parents that just want a decent life for their children. They’re students working hard just as we are to create a better future for themselves. They’re children who grew up thinking that poverty and civil unrest is normal. They deserve so much more than the bare minimum.
When attempting to influence another country, whether for our benefit or theirs, the lives of the individual people that reside there should be taken into account.
Wesley Rodriguez-Diep is a sophomore studying international relations.