Three Venezuelan students comment on why they protest against Andes University in Merida.

Their Comments

Three 24-year-old Venezuelan students, Paola Carmona, Ingeborg Paris, Gabriela Sayago have come forward to talk about why they protest against their university, Andes University in Merida.

As Venezuela continues to be engulfed in a deteriorating political and economic environment, there have been food shortages as well as shortages in basic goods. According to the students, the worst of these shortages are that of medication. The “Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation” has reported that only about 15 percent of medication is readily available for customers.

According to the three students, the shortages in medication is what makes it nearly impossible for them to graduate. Instead of finishing their five-year degree a semester ago, they’re still stuck trying to get all their prerequisites to graduate, many of which depend on medication.

Also, the university is supposed to provide students with the tools they need free of charge. However, because the university is short in terms of funding, the students end up having to buy tools such as medical kits on their own. This reportedly worked for quite some time, but the university dental clinic eventually had to close down.

“We tried to raise money, we’ve held charity races, we have held collections on public transport, we’ve even stood in the streets rattling the can,” Ingeborg said.

Comments From Other Students

Another student, Mario Bonucci, explained that Andes University along with its 60,000 students are almost completely reliant on funding from the state. The state has been providing the school with extremely short funds for the university to be able to function properly, Bonucci says.

“We’ve only been given between 30-50% of the funds we need to survive,” he said.

“This is an institution where you can speak your mind freely without fear of repercussion and that’s uncomfortable for this government.”

Because of that, Bonocci says that many potential prospective students are choosing to leave the country for a better education rather than deal with the hassle.

“Many are leaving because they don’t see a future anymore,” he said. “Take the dentistry school for example, where they just don’t have supplies. That severely limits students’ academic progress. That combined with the protests which lead to classes being cancelled make many students emigrate.”

Melissa Pena, a student that decided to leave, said: I’m one of the multitude of Venezuelans who’ve had to leave the country in search of a better future,” she says speaking from Mexico City.

“Leaving the country in which you were born, where you grew up. is a difficult thing to do.” she says.

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