An Emerson College professor spoke at the Massachusetts State House on Wednesday to educate Boston residents and political officials on the history of Venezuela’s crisis and the current state of the country.
Approximately 55 people attended the event, “A Local Venezuelan Perspective On the Struggle For Free and Fair Elections”. Professor Leonardo Vivas began the event with a slideshow on Venezuela’s current politics and the details of the country’s crisis.
A humanitarian, economic, and political crisis face Venezuela, leading to a massive financial inflation on top of food and medical supply shortages across the country. The International Monetary Fund predicts Venezuela’s inflation to reach 10 million percent by the end of the year, according to the Miami Herald.
Over 50 countries support Juan Guaidó—the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly—and the same nations consider Nicolás Maduro’s presidency illegitimate, Vivas said during the presentation.
In an interview with the Beacon, Vivas said Emerson students should stay involved with the crisis.
“I think the important thing is to know more about what’s happening in Venezuela, doing events of this type, and raising your voice,” Vivas said.
Venezuelan activist Andy Edison Calderón shared with crowded hearing room about an incident he had with Venezuelan officers in 2014.
Police officers beat and assaulted Calderón when he was protesting Maduro’s presidency and took him into custody, torturing him for an entire night.
Calderón said he fled to the United States in January 2019 to seek asylum at the border. The U.S. government held him in a detention center for four months because he didn’t have a visa.
Calderón is currently an asylum seeker and living with his lawyer in Boston.
“[Venezuelan refugees] who are coming here are only looking for help, we are human like you,” Calderón said in the hearing room filled with Boston residents and public officials.
Calderón said he urges Boston students to support their Venezuelan neighbors and to stay updated with the crisis.
On March 30, about 20 Venezuelan Emerson students attended an event at the Wentworth Institute of Technology dedicated to educating students on Venezuela’s ongoing crisis. The college has enrolled 49 students from Venezuela within the past four years.
Immigrant Rights Advocate and Consultant Cristina Aguilera said the focus of the Venezuelan crisis should be on its residents and their current quality of life.
“Every Venezuelan you ask, they have a story,” Aguilera said. “They have a story of how hard it is, they have a story of how hard people are fighting over there to survive, to be able to have a life that is honestly not normal.”