The situation in Venezuela, especially the complex humanitarian emergency, is not a topic for opinion; it’s a verifiable fact made of hard data and thousands of difficult, devastating and resilient personal stories, impossible to summarize. Yet everything about social media is fleeting, prone to misunderstanding.
These interactions are not limited to the internet. Venezuelans in the diaspora encounter people like these on a daily basis and they must choose between having an argument with an acquaintance or with a perfect stranger, or biting their tongue and carrying on with their day with that bitter aftertaste of feeling invisibilized, oppressed by someone foreign who is using his privilege (be it language fluency, immigration status or nationality) to tell our story. The irony is that, often, these “deniers,” the very people who often condemn foreigners for intervening in Venezuelan issues, feel like lecturing Venezuelans about their own country is justified.
In these exchanges, “deniers” of the Venezuelan crisis (most of them tweeting from their peaceful lives in the U.S. or Europe, with no real clue about what it means to survive in present-day Venezuela) attack and provoke Venezuelan social media users. They, in turn, go to painstaking lengths to prove that what these “Starbucks communists” claim and what it takes to actually survive in Venezuela are not correlated.
I chose to call it “peace privilege”, this mindset by which people living in peaceful conditions cannot grasp (and empathize) with conflict and context-specific issues. To outsiders, Venezuela is particularly difficult to grasp as a conflict, since it doesn’t look like a war (even though over 300,000 Venezuelans have been murdered during the so-called Bolivarian Revolution) and there are no clear-cut parties confronting each other over specific issues like religion, territory or ethnicity.
While many don’t know better, or don’t care that much about Venezuela, those who see themselves as enlightened progressives are more vehement in dismissing any opposition to chavismo as disguised Trumpism. If the human capacity for horror is hard to fathom, it’s much harder to imagine it being done by someone whose side I’m allegedly on, the good guys, the brave rebels against Trumpism and all that’s wrong in the modern world.
*a mix of quotes from articles from Cristal Palacios and Manuel Llorens.