Here’s why you — yes you, should care about what is happening in Venezuela

Image courtesy of Reuters.

There’s a country in South America that needs your attention.

A country that has been under the choking strangle of an authoritarian government for nearly two decades. I don’t, not even for one second, think that this is an issue that you may care about. However, I am here to convince you otherwise. I am here to convince you that my home country of Venezuela is worthy of your attention. You see, Venezuelans have been fighting for a long time against the injustices of a government that set out with the intent to implement an ideology that clashed to the core of the Venezuelan soul. Friends and family members who are still in Venezuela are out in the streets as you read this — both fighting for freedom and making sure they are not killed in the process. I left Venezuela a long time ago, for reasons outside my control, but my heart is still in pain with what I see happening. Laws don’t matter in Venezuela, the constitution gets you nowhere; civil rights are a joke to the government. Imagine a place where the guarantees set in place to defend you are gone, imagine not having anyone or anything to turn to and plea for help. The Venezuelan spark of life is flickering, dangerously close to being extinguished. As I said, I know that this is an issue that you may be wondering why you should worry about, but I am here to change your mind. To do so, we have to go back in time a couple of decades.

Venezuela is a country of about 31 million at the very top of South America that clashes with the Caribbean and the Andes at the same time. A country that hosts both breathtaking landscapes and sprawling metropolises, vibrant and naturally cheerful people. We were once a bright star in an otherwise troubled region. We thrived under democratic rule, we lifted millions out of poverty, we were the only country in South America that hosted the Concorde, we were proud to work hard and achieve results.

Caracas, the capital of Venezuela.
Angel Falls, the longest free drop of water in the world.
Bridge over Maracaibo Lake.

This has all changed. For the past few weeks, Venezuela has been engulfed in a social and political crisis that is unprecedented. We’ve been used to a sluggish economy — a term I use that may vastly undervalue what is happening, we’ve even been used to being a regional and global disgrace. The Chavez regime and the subsequent Maduro administration have made sure of that. But what is happening now… is something that Venezuelans in and out of the country can’t stand. Jails in Venezuela are filled with political prisoners, the Venezuelan Supreme Court is an extension of the executive branch, the majority-opposition congress has been reduced to nothing and many Venezuelans, but especially those at the bottom, are suffering. Venezuelans that dislike current President Nicolas Maduro vastly outnumber his supporters. Elections have been suspiciously suspended or cancelled. Venezuela is grasping for air. Venezuela’s political crisis makes Frank Underwood, of House of Cards fame, look like a friend.

Right, but how does this matter in your world? The reality is that it does not. There seems to be a political crisis every day in some point around the world — heck the United States itself isn’t free of it. If the evidence I presented previously has inspired you to read more about this issue, talk to your friends about it, and speak out about the unjustice my country is going through then I applaud you and you don’t have to read further. However if I have yet to spark an interest in your heart, let me spark an interest in your wallet. Something else you need to know about Venezuela is that it has the worlds largest petroleum reserves. Venezuela has almost ten times more oil than the United States with a population that is 10 times smaller. Not only does Venezuela has the largest reserves, but it sells quite a bit of it to the United States. Funny how the government of Nicolas Maduro can spew hatred of the United States and at the same time sell it oil, but that’s a matter for another day. The reality — and here lies my most important point, is that whatever happens in Venezuela will impact gas prices in the United States

The GAO report says the sudden loss of Venezuelan oil in the world market would raise world oil prices and slow the economic growth of the United States.” — Council on Foreign Relations.

Venezuela is a ticking time bomb. The government of Nicolas Maduro is unreliable, unruly and cruel. There are a multitude of humanitarian reasons for you to engage with this issue, but if that is not enough then realize that your gas prices will rise if things go badly. I don’t mean to diminish those that care about my country, nor do I want to assume that money is the only reason one would act. However, Venezuela is in a desperate state and I simply don’t know what else would work.

So here’s what you can do. Social media is a powerful tool and in Venezuela it has become a lifeline to informing those outside of what is going on. Censorship is everywhere in Venezuela. Share news stories, spread the word that American gas prices will go up, share the story that Venezuela needs a spotlight. We need to shed a light on the unbelievably unjust situation going on in Venezuela, and for that I need your help.