On a fine Washington day, I took a stroll. During this stroll, I contemplated a resolution for an eventful scene in my novel "The Insurrectionists." Suddenly, I heard loud cheering in the background and turned to find masses of people assembled. Curious, my feet guided me a tad closer to see what it was, and to my horror, I heard it:
"We need a Maduro of our own!"
Alas, have my ears deceived me? "Maduro! Maduro! Maduro!"
It is a known fact that the United States government has denounced Maduro's regime in Venezuela as being a usurpation of power, as have France, Poland, Germany, Argentina, Canada, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and many other countries. Many Venezuelans (including my dear Venezuelan readers) have told me about Chávez and Maduro, and I thank my Venezuelan friends for conveying their concerns to me and other US-Americans.
This is not a partisan issue. I realize that in the United States, we delight in making everything partisan. The terms "Democrat" and "Republican" seemingly define our entire lives. However, I want to remind my dear readers that both Democrats and Republicans have spoken against Maduro's regime and the human rights violations in Venezuela. I have read the Venezuelan constitution, and personally speaking, I agree with Juan Guaidó.
Some of the most vocal critics of Maduro's regime have been from the Democratic Party, and scholars on both sides of the political aisle have conducted extensive research into the regime and situation in Venezuela. In particular, Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell from the Democratic Party has been very vocal in her support of Juan Guaidó and of giving humanitarian aid to the people of Venezuela. This is an issue all of us can unite under: humanitarian aid for people who are suffering in Venezuela. We need to pledge our solidarity with the people of Venezuela and not side with the dictator. Human rights are not partisan - we are all born with God-given rights that no government should take away. These rights are within us and within our nature.
I realize that I quote the words of Simón Bolívar often, but this one is very timely for this situation: "Liberty is not genuine unless it aims to honor humanity and improve its lot. Anything else is sheer illusion, and, I fear, a dangerous illusion." This is what liberty is, and we must support what will honor humanity and improve the world. We should all express our opposition to dictators and those who violate human rights.
I realize that back in the day, many people were opposed to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who spoke extensively against Hitler in Germany and against Stalin in the Soviet Union. This was something that everyone should have united with Roosevelt on. You may not agree with Roosevelt's domestic decisions, but his decision to speak against Hitler and Stalin was and is something that should be praised by all.
I do not agree with Trump - alas, we find ourselves on opposite ends of the labyrinth of politics - but I do support Juan Guaidó and the humanitarian assistance in Venezuela.
No matter which side of the political spectrum we find ourselves on, no matter which country we have been born in - we are all members of humanity and contribute to the human story. When one country suffers, we all do, and we should support the suffering one and hear that country's story. Alas, my dear readers, I have heard the stories of Syria, of Ukraine, of Venezuela - we are all humans with rich and beautiful cultures as different as the individuals we are, but we are all performing like characters in a book, complementing each other and displaying the wonders of humanity.
As Montesquieu said, a government should fit its people. Indeed, some countries require more centralized governments, and some more decentralized. I fully agree with Montesquieu, and it is up to the people themselves to speak against the violations of a regime. However, although it is up to the people to make the changes, we as the international community should pledge our support for the people. The people of Venezuela are supporting Guaidó, and Maduro's support is at an all-time low. We as citizens of the international community should be listening to the voices of the Venezuelan people.
Another statement I heard when I passed the protest full of US-Americans declaring their support for Maduro was this:
"The economy of the United States will collapse, and the dollar will be worthless in 20 years! We need a Maduro to save us!"
This is a very real fear, and I understand that it is on the heart of every US-American: that our dollar and economy will collapse under the weight of debt. However, I do not see how supporting Maduro instead of Juan Guaidó will save our economy. A casual observer of Venezuela, a nation once rich and prosperous but now suffering in hyperinflation, can tell you that a "Maduro of our own" will not save the United States from economic collapse - it will only make things worse.
A few blocks (and a Colombian coffee) later, I circled around by the statue of Simón Bolívar himself to finish my coffee and enjoy the book I just bought (a French edition of "The Spirit of the Laws" by Montesquieu from 1867). As I sat down on the bench in front of Bolívar, I saw masses of people again. Alas, is it my luck to constantly run into the action?
This was a different gathering. Many of the people were speaking Spanish and wearing Venezuelan flags. As they were finishing their gathering and leaving the statue, I noticed from the discarded flyers that it was a gathering for Guaidó. I smiled, and they smiled back. What a contrast to the first gathering I saw! In keeping with my international theme after my reading time, I stopped by a popular Venezuelan cafe that is near the Simón Bolívar memorial. This charming cafe is a gathering spot for people from around the downtown area of my city. The brightly colored walls and the delicious food are always accompanied by conversations in multiple languages (I heard a total of 12 languages on this particular day). One thing I have always appreciated about the cafe is how willing many of the people are to share stories about their countries (especially the Venezuelans). I sat down, and immediately a girl next to me wanted to tell me all about Venezuela.
It is so vital and important to do this - to tell stories about what is going on, to share and talk about other cultures. This is one of the most powerful ways to help humanity: through knowledge and education. Once we speak to those around us about real issues we have experienced, we share knowledge. And through knowledge, we can find solutions to make the world a better place.