What is currently happening in Venezuela?
Venezuela is a dictatorship at the moment and there is oppression from the political powers. We are asking for elections in order to have a democratic government, but protests are being repressed. Venezuela is in a tremendous economic crisis, there are no food nor medicines: people are literally starving and we need international press coverage and international aid. That is what we are here protesting for. There is an ongoing worldwide protest at the moment, in all major cities there are Venezuelans demonstrating in order to raise awareness.
Where does the economic crisis come from?
There are many different reasons, but mainly it was due to a poor management of the country’s resources. Venezuela’s oil reserves are among the biggest in the world and we had massive income from oil production, but now most of the money ends up in the hands of few. The government claims to have socialist policies and to help the common people, but this hasn’t been the case at all. All international investors have left the country because of economic uncertainty, there is no production nor exportation of anything.
Is it true that you can’t even find toilet paper?
Absolutely. We can’t find basic things like flour, milk and toilet paper anymore. We don’t produce them and we can’t import them.
When was your last democratic government?
Before [President Hugo] Chavez we were a democracy with regular elections, our economy was much healthier and overall our country was prosperous.
Do you consider [President Nicolás] Maduro even worse than Chavez?
Yes, he is. His government is more oppressing and more dictatorial, for instance last week our parliament voted a law thanks to which the government obtained legislative power: this is really frightening. We actually think that this last year has been the worst, especially the last four months.
Could you explain us the meaning of your slogan? Does it mean that you, as a Venezuelan abroad, can’t be free until all Venezuelans in their motherland are free?
Yes. Not even the Venezuelans who live abroad can be free if the people living in Venezuela aren’t free. Our family and friends aren’t free, and we are not free to go back and visit them because our own safety would be endangered. We are always thinking about what could happen to them tomorrow or the day after, we are always afraid that they won’t come home. If you are here but your mind is there, there is no freedom.
Do you think that your government is trying to track down activists abroad, like you?
Yes, they are probably doing it. There are high chances we are kept under surveillance and the government could take actions against our families, for example they could threaten to jail a family member if we don’t stop demonstrating.
Everybody can help and play a role in the Venezuelan crisis: “Action for Solidarity” launched a medicine recycling program that lets everyone donate their unused medicines in order to send them to Venezuela. To know more about the program and get in touch with the association, have a look at: http://actionforsolidarity.org