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Firsthand Accounts of Life Under Socialism Reach Students in U.S. and Abroad

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Less than one year since its launch, TFAS’s “Venezuela: My Story … Your Future” project has exposed the truth about socialism to more than 2,000 college students worldwide.

Venezuelan political activists Jorge Galicia (left) and Andres Guilarte (right) are advocating against socialism on college campuses and to virtual audiences around the globe.

From Maine to Florida, to New York to California, and many places in between, Venezuela asylum seekers Andrés Guilarte and Jorge Galicia made presentations about how the socialist government in Venezuela crippled the economy, caused widespread starvation, blanketed the nation in blackouts and silenced and jailed those who dared to speak out and criticize the government.

Through an eyewitness perspective, they addressed the questions: How did a country with so much wealth and promise completely collapse? And could it happen in the United States?

Combined, the two young activists made presentations to 44 different campus groups in 20 states since September 2019. In the spring of 2020, the covid-19 pandemic and university closures prevented the activists from traveling and hosting in-person programs on college campuses. However, without the barrier of travel, TFAS was able to expand its audience and offer programming for more students in the U.S. and abroad. Guilarte and Galicia have since addressed several student groups in five countries in Latin America, in both Spanish and English.

Andres Guilarte shares his experience living in socialist Venezuela with students.

Student attendees expressed appreciation for having their eyes opened by the firsthand stories presented by Guilarte and Galicia.

“The historical presentation of Venezuela’s identifiable events that marked its collapse, and the before-and-after pictures helped us visualize the change,” one student remarked. “I appreciate Jorge’s motivation to continue to share his firsthand experience to help prevent our country from a similar fate.”

Another student shared: “Excellent speaker with a powerful story. I wish everyone in the USA could hear Andrés. Thank you for the opportunity!”

MAKING HEADLINES

A profile of Galicia and Guilarte written by Jennifer Kabbany, Novak ’03, was The College Fix top story for several weeks in January 2020.

In addition to student speaking events, Guilarte and Galicia have made headlines through radio appearances, online news interviews and op-eds.

During the first five months of 2020, Guilarte and Galicia have appeared in a variety of national and local outlets, including FoxNews.com, The Federalist, The College Fix, The Epoch Times, International Policy Digest, Carolina Journal and more.

In April 2020 as the COVID shutdown crippled the world economy, Guilarte and Galicia were featured in a two-minute video comparing the everyday reality of life in socialist Venezuela with the conditions created by the shutdown–empty shelves and long lines at the supermarket; incentives to report on your neighbors; massive unemployment and economic uncertainty. Following the initial success of the original video, TFAS produced a Spanish-language version, which expanded its reach even further. The videos quickly went viral, with more than 775,000 views across social media.

Looking Ahead

Throughout summer 2020, TFAS continues to offer webinar presentations in both English and Spanish to a variety of audiences, including the undergraduate students enrolled in TFAS programs and various regional groups of TFAS alumni.

As students return to campuses in the fall, TFAS plans to resume in-person presentations to students at universities, as well as to select audiences of high school students and civic and community organizations, working to reschedule the more than 30 postponed spring events.

To learn more about how to bring “Venezuela: My Story … Your Future” to a campus or community group near you, please visit TFAS.org/Venezuela.

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