An Overlooked Crisis

Courtesy of Gabriela Galavis

By Gabriela Galavis

The current situation in Venezuela is more than a news story, it is something that has been affecting families for the past 20 years. When Chavez was elected president, the Venezuela that my parents knew and loved took a drastic fall.

My dad describes Caracas in the 1980s as a safe place, somewhere you could walk on the streets without fearing for your life. It was viewed as the best country in Latin America, with a low inflation rate, stocked supermarkets, and a high rate of appearances from artists all around the world.

The Venezuela I know makes my father’s stories seem like fairy tales. When I lived in Caracas, leaving my house was a safety precaution. I witnessed gas bombs being thrown at students during “peaceful” marches in 2014. I also experienced months of cancelled classes because of freedom protests.

The worst thing we lived through was receiving a call from my sister who had been abducted for ransom in 2016. Two years later, a group of men broke into my house, tied up my parents and robbed us of everything. Although neither parent was hurt, that event continues to be traumatic for us all.

I am fully aware of the dangers that await and yet, I still look forward to visiting every year. I count the days so I can be with my family and friends. As a first-generation American, I have the privilege of studying in the United States. This privilege makes me feel responsible for spreading the word of what can be done to save Venezuela from falling further from its prior greatness.

Preparing to visit involves a process of going to the local supermarket and grabbing necessities that are now unavailable in Venezuela. After buying items like bathroom essentials, canned goods, cleaning products etc., I have to wrap everything up with clothing before putting it in my luggage. This process is done so that the workers in the Maiquetia Airport do not steal the American products.

Less than 1% of the Venezuelan community lives in a bubble. This bubble is the one that is not dying from hunger. From this bubble, only about .03% is not connected to the corrupt government.

Being a part of this .03% allows me to have food on the table, even though certain products are impossible to find. Most food options that are available have ridiculous prices and are getting more difficult to pay every day. Since having cash is no longer possible, workers are now tipped with cookies. Cookies that are more expensive than a full tank of gas.

The dream is that this new interim president, Juan Guaido, will officially take Maduro’s place as the president of Venezuela. With this new leader, we hope to rebuild the Venezuela my family knew. I have faith that I will one day be able to move back and pursue my career as a Social Worker in Caracas. Finally, my biggest wish is to start my family in Venezuela, where my dad’s fairy tales can be a reality for my kids.

Courtesy of Gabriela Galavis

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