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Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Letter of the Day

Lent reflection: The crisis in Venezuela

During this lent period I decided to give up meats, leaving me only seafood as a protein choice. In addition, I gave up sweets of all sorts, ice cream, my favorite breads, pastries and my usual Starbucks frappe. By choice I’ve decided to give up all these things I enjoy for 40 days as a small gesture of gratitude to God for all the blessings I’ve received.

Why write about it? Well, this lent season has a special meaning to me in light of the current events taking place in my country of birth, Venezuela.

Since the crisis began to escalate, the images and reports from family and social media have given me a deep sense of worry. The worry fills me day by day, and I’m just left with my limitations and frustrations. I’m forced to relinquish all those things that can give slight comfort to my stress, and when I say “forced” I mean it as a commitment I’ve made by choice.

Now imagine how hard it is for people who don’t have a choice — people who want to consume the most basic products, such as milk, chicken, beef, flour and cooking oil, but can’t consume it because their government has failed to meet their duties and responsibilities as leaders. They can’t consume their most basic products, not because they have made a choice to become a border-line vegetarian or because they decided to offer a sacrifice, but because the dictatorial government of Venezuela has forced them to make that sacrifice.

How hard is it, as an adult, to realize that there are things you cannot have? How do you explain it to a child? If this is a struggle that I will endure just for a few days, how painful is it to know that my loved ones, friends and all my countrymen have had to suffer this for 15 years with a system that hid its dirty plans under a democratic mask that was as false as a $200 bill.

As the years passed, people conformed to standing in lines for hours to purchase the most basic of products. But the corrupt government of Venezuela has driven the country into such chaos that no line long enough can supply the country’s needs, nor does the government care to do so. In these days it seems the government is literally killing hunger by killing its citizens for speaking up and demanding their basic rights.

The world keeps its eyes closed, and I wonder, does anybody really care? Does anybody ever think of putting themselves in other people’s shoes?

Unwillingly and without knowing, that’s what I have done — put myself in the shoes of the people who are struggling today, who have nothing and who are fighting for a better future.

Johana Perez


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