June 12, 2017 Print

Panel Discussion Venezuela (Photo: Javier Vidueira / Floridablanca)

For more than two months now, heroic Venezuelans have taken to the streets to oppose President Nicolás Maduro's dictatorship. “Fifty-nine young demonstrators have already paid with their lives,” said Isadora Zubillaga, a political exile currently living in Spain, at a recent event in Madrid.

Zubillaga described the atrocities of the Maduro regime at “Venezuela: between international solidarity and helplessness" (link in Spanish), a special event organized by Red Floridablanca, an Atlas Network partner based in Spain, on May 24. The event brought together more than 70 policy-makers, activists, students, journalists, and researchers from think tanks and academia to discuss the ongoing Venezuelan crisis and the responses being offered by the international community.

Isadora Zubillaga and Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo (Photo: Javier Vidueira / Floridablanca)

In Venezuela, 250 political prisoners are in jail, 80 percent of Venezuelans have lost about 15 pounds of weight on average due to food shortages, and people are dying in hospitals as they run out of supplies. Journalist and president of Free and Equal (Libres e Iguales) Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo referred to young Venezuelans as “the true heroes of our time,” saying that “In Venezuela’s fight for its rights, its freedom, for democracy, and the need to have a united opposition [against the government], young people have been the leaders.” Álvarez de Toledo continued to point out that “we must not forget to denounce the international assistance that the Venezuelan government is receiving from countries such as Cuba.”

Dr. Alex Chafuen, president of Atlas Network, added, “There is no food, there is no medicine, but there are a lot of arms.” Chafuen implored the crowd of concerned young Spaniards and Latin Americans that there are many things that can be done to help the freedom fighters of Venezuela, despite the reluctance of many countries to do so. “Spain and the EU must lead by example, by denouncing Maduro’s abuses and protecting the opposition," Chafuen urged. "On an individual level, we may each help by exposing these abuses through social media, and organizing events to raise awareness."

Álex Chafuen (Photo: Javier Vidueira / Floridablanca)

In closing the event, speakers engaged in a lively discussion with participants, and agreed that all who care for freedom around the world must unite in support of Venezuelans. For, as director of Red Floridablanca Isabel Benjumea said, “a guilty conscience is the only alternative to being part of this battle for peace, liberty, and democracy.”