Venezuelans Won’t Take Oppression Lying Down

In Venezuela, we have developed ways to cope with 21st-century socialism
Venezuelans have developed both mental and physical techniques to cope with 21st-century socialism. (La Radio del Sur)

I can affirm that I belong to a race of men that have built their lives through their own mistakes.” — Ernesto Sábato.

EspañolThe events that occurred the week of September 10 were a hard blow to the people of Venezuela. The injustice against Leopoldo López concluded with a prison sentence that condemns him to almost 14 years behind bars.

Yet López’s case was not the only difficult battle that week. The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court declared that the ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) in favor of Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV) was “unenforceable.” There is no longer any doubt that there is no freedom of speech, nor respect for due process, in Venezuela.

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court’s verdict was not surprising, since they said the same of another IACHR ruling which called for protective measures for López and asked that the sanctions against him not prohibit his political candidacy.

In situations like this, I always tell myself that despite what I know about this regime, I must hope for the best. Because if I lose my ability to hope, then I will become cynical, and just like that, they will have broken my spirit. And that is something that is very difficult from which to recover.

I would no longer be able to serve as a lawyer, a professor, a daughter and sister, or even as a citizen. I know there are many people out there that feel the same way I do.

However, others have told me that expecting an acquittal in López’s case under these conditions is naive. They say it would have been much more realistic to expect a guilty verdict, and that remaining realistic allows one to make informed decisions. Cynicism, they tell me, in the political and philosophical sense of the word, can be a useful thing.

It’s difficult for me to argue with that.

Though they differ, both positions represent ways that Venezuelans have learned to cope with this dictatorship. It’s how we deal with this “mistake.”

Obviously, however, this is not enough. Others have devised other ways to cope that are not only reactive, but also productive.

On Sunday, September 13, for example, the Center for the Dissemination of Economic Knowledge (CEDICE Libertad), together with Leadership and Vision and other institutions, organized the Race for Freedom, which was a great reprieve after a difficult week for Venezuelans who want to live in a free society.

Caracas residents barely have any recreational spaces due to security reasons, so many of us, young and old, took this as a perfect opportunity to run or walk in a 5 kilometer race.

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Last week, the Venezuelan chapter of Students for Liberty launched a campaign under the slogan #LeerEsLibertad (To Read Is to Be Free) to share philosophical, historical, and fictional works of literature that have contributed to the cause of liberty.

As a university professor, I also teach and share ideas that promote liberty. I was immensely fortunate to have grown up with a love for literature, so I have found solid allies in promoting liberty in the works of Orwell, Huxley, Bradbury, Camus, Borges, Paz, and Vargas Llosa.

And thanks to Cedice Joven (CEDICE Youth), this initiative will not remain within the confines of classrooms at Andrés Bello Catholic University and the Central University of Venezuela, but will reach young people of all ages and from all social-economic backgrounds.

Furthermore, the academic group Cátedra Libre Carlos Rangel aims to keep the work of Carlos Rangel alive. Since the 1970s, he warned that the failures in our region stemmed from the myth of Latin America as the incarnation of the noble savage, the good revolutionary, and the New Man. For Cátedra Libre Carlos Rangel, one could say #PensarEsLibertad (To Think Is to Be Free).

Venezuelans are willing to run, read, and think for the future of their country, despite the regime’s efforts to export 21st-century socialism to the region, and the foreign politicians who eagerly welcome it.

Translated by Rachel Rodriguez.

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