“A sector of the international public opinion has simplified the conflict in Venezuela as tension between the government of Nicolás Maduro and the government of Donald Trump. We are conscious of the geostrategic importance of Venezuela given its abundant natural resources. We are also perfectly conscious of contemporary history in Latin America. Our country is subject to interests, of various kinds, of the United States, but also of other countries like Russia, China, and Cuba.”

The ideological allies of Nicolás Maduro abroad are using the Trump card (no pun intended) of “U.S. intervention in Venezuela”. You can see it in opinion articles and open letters being released and advocates defending it on TV. But a large platform of Venezuelan NGOs (235 to be more accurate) are not having any of it and recently released a written statement where they tackle these arguments head on.

“We value and appreciate your concern about the possible consequences of the wrongful intervention of some of these powers over our daily lives. We just ask that you do not ignore, in your opinions, the situation of the Venezuelan people and their desire and aspirations over what their destiny should be. Those of us who participated in massive protests in 60 cities and towns in Venezuela and in 230 cities throughout the world on January 23rd did so because we have the firm conviction that the current government impoverishes us, violates our rights, and forces us to leave the country. When we want to express ourselves, the government ignores our voice, imprisons us, and kills us, as demonstrated by the 29 people who have been killed so far in the context of protests by police and paramilitary groups. The government prohibits us—common citizens—from choosing what our destiny should be, in many ways. The Venezuelan people want to express themselves sovereignly in free, democratic, and inclusive elections, recuperating the capacity to promote change in a civic and peaceful manner, guaranteeing the exercise of all its rights without any type of discrimination.”

A large platform of Venezuelan NGOs (235 to be more accurate) recently released a written statement where they tackle these arguments head on.

Dismissing this unified stance by Venezuelan civil society right now is not only foolish, but also a demonstration of disinterest in understanding our dire situation beyond ideological barriers.

After all, local NGOs are the ones taking count and register of those killed and arrested during the protests. Or pointing out the blatant censorship happening on the airwaves and the web.

And before that, as the humanitarian crisis affects the country, local NGOs have been the ones doing their best to contain it in the face of official pressure, and of their own limitations. Earlier this month, a special report by specialized newsgroup IRIN gave us a deep glimpse, including these quotes by CC contributors Tamara Taraciuk and Luisa Kislinger:

“‘The role of local groups is so important,’ says Tamara Taraciuk, senior Americas researcher for Human Rights Watch, which has tracked the humanitarian impact of the crisis within Venezuela’s borders and around the region. She says local NGOs have been compelled to shift their operations toward something they had never foreseen: humanitarian work.

‘They are helping people who would otherwise not receive any aid,’ Taraciuk says.

The important work of many NGOs in Venezuela cannot be ignored, their voice can serve as a clear guidance of what is really happening here and how to move forward.

‘This would be a challenge anywhere, but oil-rich Venezuela was uniquely unprepared: civil society was small; NGOs like Mi Convive largely focused on human rights or development. And, says Luisa Kislinger, a women’s rights activist and a former Venezuelan diplomat, the country had rarely seen humanitarian emergencies within its own borders.

‘When the economy imploded, precious few organizations had experience doing humanitarian work.

‘We don’t know what a humanitarian emergency is,’ Kislinger says. ‘We didn’t know until now.’”

The important work of many NGOs in Venezuela cannot be ignored, therefore their voice can serve as a clear guidance of what is really happening here and how to move forward. It’s easy to disregard that from a distance, taking cover in simpler narratives and cheap slogans. But taking such attitude does not help. Quite the opposite.

You’re just making the oppressor’s job easier.

 

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