Venezuela is currently in a state of humanitarian crisis, economic crisis, democratic crisis and just about any other form of crisis under the sun. But the only people that seem to be talking about the falling nation are either people living there or people who are from there. Having been born in Venezuela, and still having a significant amount of family there, it’s important for me to follow current events no matter how depressing they may get.
Recently, Venezuela sank to a whole new level of crisis when the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) — or Venezuela's equivalent to the United States Supreme Court — passed a law taking away power from the National Assembly of Venezuela — their version of Congress — and giving it to the country’s president, Nicolas Maduro. This move essentially converted the country from a democratic republic into a dictatorship — though they would never say so. This is a huge deal for Venezuela.
Because of the TSJ's ruling, the Organization of American States (OAS) — an organization comprising of the 35 countries of the Americas dedicated to promoting democracy, human rights and social and economic development among its members — is debating whether Venezuela still belongs as a member of the OAS or should be removed. If Venezuela is removed from the OAS, there will be almost no one left to fight for the people of Venezuela, leaving them alone to dig themselves out of the hole their government has created.
Despite the fact that Venezuela might be coming to an end, no one understands or is talking about the consequences of these actions — and no one seems to really care.
Venezuela is not alone when it comes to flying under the radar of the general public. India also recently passed a huge law banning discrimination against those suffering from HIV/AIDS, ensuring equal rights for those living with the disease. This is the first of its kind in South Asia and will make India the largest country in the world to ban this kind of discrimination. But even groundbreaking movements toward human rights in other countries seem to go completely ignored.
It feels like I spend more time explaining the events I want to have conversations about than I spend actually engaging in the conversations. And the conversations I do have always seem to be about the briefest details or based on whatever information popped up on my counterparts iPhone as a “breaking news” alert. We need to stop glancing at the briefs and start reading the actual stories.
While of course it’s important to pay attention to news happening in our own country, we should also be paying just as much attention to the rest of the world. Just because something doesn’t have “United States” attached to the title, does not mean it’s not important.
One of the central messages Elon University employs is the idea of being a global citizen and embracing and learning about other cultures as a result of that. Well we can’t become globally engaged if we don’t know what’s happening in the world beyond our borders. We can’t wait for the United States to become involved in another country to become aware of its situation.
Being globally engaged citizens means thinking beyond ourselves and how we might be affected by another country’s actions or by our government getting involved in global politics. Yes, stay updated on domestic news, but every once in awhile at least branch out and explore the world news section a little more. The “world” is more than the United States, and they’re constantly having conversations — it’s time we join them.