An average day in the life of an average Venezuelan is one where they awake to a pitch-black bedroom because the government cut the power without reason again. They then walk outside without breakfast because the 53,798,500% inflation rate makes even bread unobtainable. They open their door only to have to wade through thousands of protestors because the government refuses to listen to even the loudest voices for change. An average day for an average Venezuelan means surviving.
The crisis in Venezuela is due to complications leading to complete tragedy, and most of the roots of the disaster can be uncovered by looking at the government’s instability.
The Venezuelan government is not one easily explained because the position of president has been contested since January. The struggle for presidential power is one fought between Nicolás Maduro, elected as president in 2013, and Juan Guaidó, president of the rightful national legislative body, the National Assembly.
According to BBC News, “During his first term, the economy went into freefall and many Venezuelans blame him and his socialist government for the country’s decline.”
Then, during his controversial reelection in 2018, “the National Assembly argue[d] that because the election was not fair, Mr. Maduro [was] a ‘usurper’ and the presidency [was] vacant.”
As the president of the National Assembly, Guaidó then “declared himself acting president and said he would assume the powers of the executive branch from there onwards,” with a stance that the election was invalid due to injustice.
The uncertainty of leadership combined with past Venezuelan socialism complicating the economy has created an environment of chaos, seemingly unmanageable. The chaos is composed of hyperinflation, severe lack of food, random power outages and malnutrition.
Julie Siegler ‘21, Ursuline student and member of a Venezuelan family, says that this is “only the tip of the iceberg.”
In the past, Siegler traveled to Venezuela frequently to visit her mother’s side of the family. Now, she is unable to visit her “second home” as she calls it, due to the unrest and danger.
“I have seen Venezuela’s poverty with my own eyes and I have seen the damage that this crisis has created,” said Siegler.
She is now passionate about helping in any way possible, and in order to fulfill her goal, she decided to rely on the help of her Ursuline sisters. For Intramural service project, Seigler suggested that each advisory collect materials such as powdered milk, baby formula and medication into boxes to provide the suffering Venezuelans with the most basic daily necessities through an organization called Rayitos de Luz.
When asked what the best way is to help from Dallas, Siegler said, “The best thing to do is honestly just what we did: donate food and pray.”
Each student got the opportunity to provide help for the cause, but Seigler was able to encounter the appreciation and affect firsthand when she gave the volunteers from Rayitos de Luz all the supplies that Ursuline gathered.
Siegler said, “The most impactful thing was when I was talking to ladies from the corporation and you can see how grateful they were for all of the boxes. They were literally crying tears of joy.”
Although Venezuela is thousands of miles away, the Ursuline community, with the leadership of one upstanding student, was able to accomplish an amazing deed of service. The Venezuelan people were beyond grateful for the small contribution, revealing that showing any amount of care can be impactful.
Image courtesy of Julie Siegler ’21