On October 10th, American University’s YAL chapter had one of our most dedicated members, Daniel Rivas, give a presentation on how socialism ruined his home country of Venezuela, and affected his life and his family. Daniel was excited for the chance to tell his story, and there were plenty who were excited to listen. After reaching out to all of our members who would be interested in hearing about what has been going on in that country, our chapter was able to bring 45 members!
Gathered in our usual room, members filled up the space as our e-board introduced ourselves to new faces. Many only knew the bare minimum about the country, and were interested in learning more given how the country is portrayed on the news. After letting everyone take several slices of pizza and a cup of soda, our chapter President Matthew Adams introduced our member speaker. Daniel was ready with a steady flow of facts, history, and personal anecdotes.
He showed what Caracas looked like in the fifties, not much different than how the United States looked at the time. He described the rise of Chavez, and described a Nation that believed rights derived from the government, including the right to life. Daniel emphasized how the government during their unrest openly “suspended the right to life” to ensure everyone followed the curfew. Even before Chavez, Venezuela was set to become a tyranny. This led Daniel to talk about the nature of socialism in his country, how it promised free things to some, but took liberties away from all. Daniel mentioned his own father, who worked in one of the few free media stations left until that too was shut down. The message was clear in Daniel’s presentation, the chaos seen in Venezuela today is not a sudden event, it is the culmination of years of socialism and tyranny.
Nevertheless, Daniel refused to give up hope for his country, as he laid out a plan in the works to implement an alternate Venezuelan government within the United States. While the future is uncertain for their country, Daniel referred back to the original photo of the old Caracas, and showed it as a warning for what can happen. As members applauded and thanked Daniel for speaking, our e-board thanked everyone for coming and invited everyone to come again on October 24th to learn from Stephen Rowe from the Leadership Institute!