Once the richest country in Latin America, Venezuela is now broke thanks to the collapse of the oil industry and general mismanagement of the economy. For the last 6 years people has been starving, Caracas has been the most violent city in the world and the government has been focusing on changing the constitution to give itself more power rather than focusing on its population’s well-being.
The Latin American Society invites you this next Wednesday November 14th from 6 to 10 pm at KapuCardiff to honour the Venezuelan people that lives in Cardiff and its surroundings with a social night. A talk by Dr. Joey Whitfield related to social-political shifts in Latin America over the years, Venezuelan music, traditional food sell by The Queen Pepiada • Original Venezuelan food and Canaima Coffee and a discussion forum with Venezuelan people living in the UK sharing their personal experiences and beliefs regarding this humanitarian crisis.
We have conjoined efforts with Unicef on Campus Cardiff University, Cardiff Volunteering and Made in Venezuela Stroud to raise funds for “Barriguita Llena” campaign that collects funding for the people with major need in Venezuela, such as the elder, the children and people living on the rural places. Bring any donation in cash you may like to contribute with as we are going to collect some fundings that day.
Come, have a drink and listen to first-hand experiences told by Venezuelans. Being aware of what is happening in Latin America is the first step to drive change.
When I walked through the doors of Kapu nightclub in St Marys Street to attend this Venezuela night I couldn’t at first believe the size of the audience. The club was packed with a vibrant healthy assortment of mostly Latin Americans with plenty of authentic Venezuelan ex-pats. I took up a seat next to my university friend and for the first two hours of the night we were graced with three lectures followed by a group debate / discussion.
Dr Joey Whitfield – International Solidarity and the Decline of the Pink Tide
Joey, a lecturer in Cardiff University, opened proceedings with a more general look at the politics of the Latin America region. Hugo Chavez was the extreme socialist leader that was elected into power in Venezuela in 1999. Chavez, who aligned himself closely with the communist Fidel Castro régime in Cuba, was not alone in being a left wing Latin American leader. A pink tide engulfed the region with left wing governments being elected in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Nicaragua. A lot of these new leaders had previously been much more radically left wing with many of them fighting armed revolutionary struggles during the 1970s.
At the moment the Pink Tide has retreated with Venezuela under Nicolas Maduro, being one of the few remaining socialists. The movement was labelled a ‘Pink Tide’ because many of the left wing governments failed to live up to the promises that they had made when they swept into power. There have been political scandals such as the Carwash scandal that affected the worker’s party in Brazil, leaving elections there open for a recent right wing President to seize power. The rise of right wing fascist populist leaders means that the centre and the left only have themselves to blame.
Joey gave a great anecdote about some squatter friends of his in London who in the 1980s sent all the proceeds they made from the London property market, to support the left wing Sandinista government of Nicaragua. They even moved out there, creating a women’s Commune.
Carlos Alonso, A Venezuelan ex pat from Bristol – The 4 Venezuelan Horsemen (reloaded)
Carlos was next to give a speech to the 100 strong audience that had gathered in Kapu. He had originally prepared this speech two years ago shortly after the death of his father out in Venezuela.
Venezuela ws not just about pretty women and waterfalls. It has a failing health system and there is much political unrest and riots. Carlos’ father was suffering from cancer and required coma nappies and they just were not available on the healthcare system so Carlos had to source them himself. The Venezuelan system could have made his father’s suffering a lot more dignified.
There is a phenomenon of Express kidnappings whereby people are taken in the morning and if money is not received by nightfall they are murdered and the kidnap gang just repeats their work the following day.
During Carlos’ lifetime he has experienced 3 coups and five social uprisings. The people are at war with their own countrymen.
In 2018 there was a famine in Venezuela which led to a downward spiral.
There is a very high murder rate in Venezuela with Caracas being the worst city on earth for murders.
Carlos was very lucky not to be one of these multiple murder statistics as he was carjacked. The mugger pointed a gun at him through his car window during a traffic jam and when Carlos dropped his mobile phone as he went to give it to the attacker, his gun was fired on Carlos but luckily it jammed – not once – but three times. He was one firearm malfunction away from death and at this point Carlos decided it was time to pack his bags and leave the country for good. Caracas is the most dangerous city in the world.
He feels good sharing stories about Life in Venezuela and is proud to be part of the Bolivarian diaspora. Not everyone understands what it is like to spend part of your day without electricity and to have to hunt down food and medicines. There is a deep impact due to the health crisis in Venezuela.
Bernardo Barrios-Crispi – A Venezulean Doctor now living in the UK
There is a health emergency in Venezuela. There has been the reappearance and spread of epidemics. Maternal and Infant mortality rates are going through the roof. 300 000 people have been deprived of medication since 2016. In 2017 there was a modern epidemic. The risk of dying in a public hospital was very high. There are not enough cleaning materials, there is an inadequate waste disposal and a lack of fresh water supplies. 95% of medicines are now imported. Venezuelan doctors are leaving en masse. Cuban doctors were brought in, traded for Venezuelan petrol supplies.
Hugo Chavez, who came into power in 1999 had a divide and conquer philosophy. There was an internal enemy in the oligarchy and media and an external one in the USA and hostile foreign governments.
Chavez was supported by foreign socialists such as Jeremy Corbyn. Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, bought Venezuelan oil to fuel the London bus services.
Angelina Jolie did as much as she could to highlight the plight of the Venezuelans.
The three talks were very enlightening and were followed by an engaging debate and discussion where many proud Venezuelan ex pats made statements about their troubled nation.
The authentic food was magnificent and I loved the shredded beef Arepas.
Looking forward to next month’s focus on Brazil, the next event at Kapu.