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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Call for help

 
 

In response to limited coverage of violence and anti-government protests in Venezuela, Texas A&M students are banding together to aid Venezuelans in what they feel their movement needs most – international attention.
Dozens of students and other supporters led by the Venezuelan Student Association gathered near the Liberal Arts Building on Saturday to bring attention to the current political situation in Venezuela. Clad in flags and hoisting protest signs denouncing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government, the participants organized a demonstration in which they spelled out an SOS distress signal in support of the individuals currently experiencing a drawn-out social conflict in Venezuela.
This demonstration, which was organized on the same day in several other cities around the world with the same purpose, served as a unifying moment for the Venezuelan community at Texas A&M.
Rafael Paz, senior petroleum engineering major and president of the Venezuelan Student Association, said despite the organization usually dealing with cultural exposure and integration into the Texas A&M community, they felt that this was an appropriate way to complement the efforts of the students in Venezuela.
“This is the first time that we have an event that has such an important social impact,” Paz said. “We felt like this would be an appropriate home for a movement such as this one.”
Citing the lack of freedom of speech in Venezuela, the demonstrators expressed their frustration at the actions of what they consider to be a totalitarian and oppressive government.
“We want to bring to light the press censorship that Venezuela is currently going through,” said Esteban Garcia, senior civil engineering major. “We think it’s crazy that there’s a situation where 10 people have [reportedly] died, violence is widespread and they are telling us that nothing is going on.”
With the immediate future of Venezuela in a state of uncertainty, Garcia said he is frustrated with those in power and with their attitude toward the protests and the international exposure that they bring.
“They do things like kicking CNN out of the country because they are supposedly inciting civil unrest,” Garcia said. “Which is completely true, there is civil unrest. However, the government doesn’t want that to be seen. That’s the problem.”
With the Venezuelan government placing restrictions on media, students in Venezuela and abroad have found a tool to gain awareness through the use of social media.
Suzanne Schweitzer, senior industrial distribution major, said services like Twitter and Facebook have already proven their worth to the movement.
“Venezuela is currently going through a massive media blackout,” Schweitzer said. “So it’s very important that we use these tools in a positive way to spread our message.”
Drawing from the social and cultural responsibilities of being a student in Venezuela, students compared their efforts to those of their counterparts.
“In Venezuela, the students protest because it’s their future that is at risk,” said Ricardo Lugo, senior sport management major. “In general, students in the U.S. don’t have to worry about the same things because there is a government that allows them to have a stable future.”
Schweitzer said despite the significant differences between their role and that of the Venezuelan students, they still share a unified goal.
“We all want a better country, regardless of political inclination,” Schweitzer said. “We want to battle the lack of freedom of speech, the lack of basic goods and corruption.”
Urging those present to display their support in whichever way they could, Paz told attendees that despite them not being able to influence the conflict directly, students at A&M would continue to push their message.
“I can honestly say that if any of us were in Venezuela, we would be fighting the same battles that they are,” Paz said. “Since we are not, we are doing the best we can to support them.”

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