Español Once a revered nation in Latin America, my birthplace of Venezuela is in dire straits. The very place that used to attract hundreds of thousands of Colombian immigrants — my parents among them — is no longer a net recipient.
For the first time in decades, Venezuelans are fleeing their country in droves. The scarcity of basic goods, rising insecurity, and an economy in complete chaos has forced many to look for greener pastures. Estimates indicate that 800,000 to 1.5 million Venezuelans live abroad, with 90 percent having left the country within the past 15 years. These numbers are only set to worsen, as another 3 million Venezuelans are in the process of trying to exit the country.
The statistics alone are shocking, but each and every number represents a gut-wrenching story of the trials and tribulations faced by ordinary Venezuelans since Hugo Chávez came to power in 1998. Ultimately, this mass exodus is the result of the interventionist economic policies pursued by Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro.
Socialism has a dismal track record with regard to societal stability. Economic upheaval, lives and families torn apart, and public disorder are all part of the all-inclusive package of misery that it offers. In his magnum opus Free to Choose, renowned economist Milton Friedman notes that people “vote with their feet when they have no other way to vote.” In this regard at least, Venezuelan “democracy” is in full swing.
Colombia, Panama, Spain, and United States have become the primary destinations for exiles to start their lives anew. All four countries enjoy significantly higher degrees of economic liberty and institutional stability than Venezuela. They may not be paragons of free-market policies, especially Colombia and Panama, but they still provide economic opportunities that are not simply available in Venezuela.
The Fightback for Venezuela Begins
Don’t let the Kool-Aid from purported intellectuals fool you; Venezuela is no workers’ paradise. But this Venezuelan citizen will not stand by and see his home be torn apart by disastrous economic policies and authoritarian governance.
Awakening Venezuela from its economic slumber will be no easy task. It will need each and every one of the nation’s citizens to work for change. However, previous generations witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent fall of the Soviet Union. With the recent talks of normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba, the last vestiges of our own Iron Curtain are beginning to crumble.
Venezuela can change for the better.
We may be separated from our families and country, but we have the tools at our disposal, not least the internet and social media, to topple the primitive Chavista regime.
The power is, in fact, in our hands. It’s just a matter of taking the red pill, and fighting the statist matrix that surrounds us. Do you have what it takes to journey down the rabbit hole?