IJ_Columna_VenBienv

IJ_Columna_VenBienv |

Citizen-led initiatives like #VenezuelaBienvenida (#VenezuelaIsWelcome in English) are reassuring, which calls on the country to get involved in the crisis on the side of human rights, to open channels of conversation, while promoting research and action to avoid the festering social rejection of Venezuelans.

Citizen-led initiatives like #VenezuelaBienvenida (#VenezuelaIsWelcome in English) are reassuring, which calls on the country to get involved in the crisis on the side of human rights, to open channels of conversation, while promoting research and action to avoid the festering social rejection of Venezuelans.

It is difficult to find a Colombian family in the towns and cities along the country’s Caribbean coast whose story does not, in some way, connect them to Venezuela. Migration to Venezuela in the 70’s allowed for the mere survival and social mobility of many people. In my case, my mother ended up working in domestic services in a home in Caracas taking care of children, and my father at a dairy company in Táchira. The earnings from two years of hard work, during which my siblings and I were dispersed with different family members, we managed to overcome our family’s bankruptcy that caused the loss of my father’s cotton farm. We then resettled in Cartagena. There are many histories like this one.

The 80s brought a major economic crisis caused by the decline of the price of oil. It was a blow to the well-being of Venezuelans and triggered massive, country-wide protests. The crisis crystallized institutional instability, and later galvanized the desire for change embodied by the Bolivarian Revolution. Thanks to a new oil price boom, the government was able to provide goods and services (health, education) to vast sectors of the population previously relegated to living in poverty.

Much like the way in which the rose, prices of crude oil fell exponentially, and in 2013 when the country was without the protagonist of its revolutionary process, Hugo Chavez.

From Colombia we have been able to be present in the drama that has characterized Venezuela’s recent history, in the gradual erosion of it’s democracy, and in the ascent of Nicolas Maduro. Maduro has become a caricatured and incredibly dangerous figure., having militarized the society, coopted all means of power and violently repressed the opposition. The economic crisis has pushed thousands of Venezuelans out of their country, much like what happened with the thousands of Colombians who left for Venezuela in the 70s.

The national government should regulate the basic needs and services provided to migrants like health and education, and work in alliance with neighboring countries to internationalize the solutions. Local governments need to create responses that are reasonable and supportive, to confront this crisis that is already being felt on the streets of cities and towns. We have a duty of reciprocity towards Venezuela.

The candidates running for Congress and for President have an enormous responsibility. We should not vote for opportunists who make a poor use out of the Venezuelan crisis, taking advantage of it to foment hate that could lead to an uncontrollable spiral of xenophobic violence.

Meanwhile, citizen-led initiatives like #VenezuelaBienvenida (#VenezuelaIsWelcome in English) are reassuring, which calls on the country to get involved in the crisis on the side of human rights, to open channels of conversation, while promoting research and action to avoid the festering social rejection of Venezuelans. Mediums of communication, along with every single person, have the responsibility to see to it that solidarity is embraced.

 

Foto: Angélica María Cuevas

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