Ever since Nicolás Maduro’s rise to Venezuela’s presidency in 2013, the nation’s already unstable political and social situation has continued to deteriorate.
Insecurity, food shortage, a devastated economy and peaceful protests followed by violent repression are part of Venezuela’s daily life.
And millennials in the country are increasingly caught up in the unrest that threatens to tear apart the nation.
“Everyday, I see something that makes me think that we have to find a way out of this,” 19 year old student Juan Simón Ávila said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “There’s no day in Venezuela in which you’re happy or in which you can say that nothing happened in the country. It’s very hard.”
Ávila is a TRX fitness coach, and a musician.
Everyday, he leaves his house at 7 a.m. to go to work and everyday he see’s something dramatic in the streets of Valencia, the nation’s third largest city and the home of University of Carabobo, where Ávila goes to school.
“I see what’s going on,” Ávila said. “There’s people eating from the garbage and long lines of people outside of gas stations and food markets. People have left their jobs and they seek for any activity that may create more income to survive. In Venezuela we don’t live, we survive.”
In the past few years, Venezuela has suffered from a serious shortage not only in staple foods such as milk, chicken, coffee and rice, but also on staple products such as toilet paper and even medicines.
The Venezuelan economy is heavily reliant on global oil forces, and times have been tough in recent years as the price has been driven low.
This shortage of daily stable items is called by some Venezuelans, “Maduro’s Diet”.
“The amount of food has declined and people eat less,” Ávila said. “Not only that, but we’re also worried about not having enough food to get through the week and about insecurity. I go out and I worry about getting robbed, kidnapped or even killed. I want to walk through the streets without being afraid.”
Venezuela’s streets also witness the abusive and violent way in which the army and the police crush the citizens’ pacific protests.
They throw tear gas and shoot lead balls as well as real bullets to Venezuelans who attend protests with nothing but banners, whistles and tambourines.
As protests become a daily occurrence in Venezuela, the importance of the young generations cannot be overstated.
They are forming the core of protests and are pushing for rebuilding their country while forcing their voices to be heard.
“There are no reasons to stay at home, but there’s too many reasons to go out there and fight to recover our country,” Ávila said. “I want to finish my degree and I want to leave, but I want to come back and rebuild Venezuela. How could I come back if I didn´t fight until the last day I was here?”
Now in his third year as a student in the University of Carabobo, Ávila has seen how the country’s fragile economy and growing instability have taken a toll in the education sector.
“Universities are a mirror of Venezuela’s situation, or at least mine is,” Ávila said. “Everything is abandoned. The university is destroyed and my college is falling apart.”
The University of Carabobo, which runs on federal funds, is one of Venezuela’s five autonomous universities.
However, given the state of the country’s economy, the university has not received any federal aid to support itself for over six months.
With no money to maintain the facilities or pay the professors, university authorities are still deliberating whether to declare bankruptcy and suspend the institution’s activities.
“I wouldn’t go to class anyway,” Ávila said. “Venezuela comes first because if we don’t fight for it now, then we won’t do it ever. And how is it useful to me to go to college and attend classes if I won’t have a country to work in?”
With escalating street violence and a repressive and tyrannical government in charge, Venezuelans see no quick solution to the problem that afflicts their country.
“This government has to stop,” Ávila said. “Maduro has to leave. We’ve called for pacts and elections, but they have shown they don’t care about what anyone says. I don’t see any way of solving this conflict in the near future. Maybe we need a big rebellion or a foreign intervention because Venezuela’s situation will not be solved through democracy.”
Ávila said he looks forward to finishing his degree in Fiscal Science and going to Mexico with his sister Rosa María to play music.
“People out there have to know that there’s people here fighting for Venezuela,” Ávila said. “They have to know that Venezuelans’ human rights are being violated, but that we’re still here facing this government. They have to know that there’s people who believe that this country will get through this. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but we will get through this. People out there have to realize and talk about how there’s something going on in Venezuela.”
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.
Photo Credits: Juan Simón Ávila/ Submitted