United States, Florida - 05/15/2019 (PRDistribution.com)
Venezuelans with resources can constitute an authentic international political force.
Juan Felipe Lara Fernández
In Venezuela, the landscape has changed rapidly. In less than four months we have an interim president, Juan Guaidó, a transitional government recognized by +50 democratic countries and control of Venezuelan institutions and companies outside the country, such as Citgo, which passed into the hands of a new team of professionals.
But there are enormous achievements: many allies (the OAS, the Lima Group, BID, the European Parliament and almost all countries in that continent); the recovery of assets and others.
New scenarios are glimpsed, but the work is not done. To completion of the task requires a gigantic step: the replacement of an illegitimate regime that still maintains internal control.
I have always said that two of the most important tasks of a well-off Venezuelan, outside the country, is to achieve connection and influence with local and, ideally, national governments. That way they will have access and ears interested in their ideas and proposals.
As I have said before, most of those wealthy Venezuelans in exile reduce their political activity to online activism. It is a convenient way -but insufficient- to face a situation that has already escalated to a humanitarian crisis amid a dictatorial regime immune to criticism and citizen pressure.
The apparent advantage of social media activism is how easy and comfortable becomes. The disadvantage is that it has a minimal effect or, in general, nonexistent. It is preaching to the choir and getting a false impression of achievement, good to reassure the conscience but ineffective to motorize a change. So, what to do?
Influence is built
Let's see and learn from the Cuban experience in exile, concentrated mainly in South Florida. From the beginning of the 1960s they were integrating into American society; they did not isolate themselves.
They were part of unions, chambers of commerce and industry. They set up local businesses, many of which are today state and national references. They integrated to their localities, and more intensely since they understood that the fight against the communist dictatorship would last generations.
But more importantly, they got involved in local politics, as they became citizens, registered in parties and participated as candidates in local, state and eventually national elections. The Diaz-Balart brothers, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and innumerable leaders in local politics in South Florida demonstrated that power is achieved on the ground and not from afar.
Of course, we Venezuelans still do not have the time and the influence that is achieved in decades, but it should be a coordinated and systematic task. There are already some examples, in Florida itself, as the IVAC (Independent Venezuelan-American Citizens). Based in Miami, it collects money from contributions and travels to Washington, what for? To lobby Congress and Government. They recently met with President Donald Trump and regularly visit outstanding political representatives.
Let's contribute to these organizations; finance activities that oppose chavismo or lobby local governments; advertise in pro-Venezuelan media ... are options that add up.
An example. A group of well-off Venezuelans create an organization. They hire public relations agents, public policy experts, lobbyists, etc. They establish a concrete strategy, towards achievable ends and of high commercial or political value for Venezuelans. Contact and visit local, state or national power centers. In a short time they will have the influence to be taken into consideration, listened to and, at the end, see the realization of their projects. Those contacts are very valuable.
This is the time to organize, invest wisely in the country where live in and achieve goals of power and influence, in a coordinated and generous way. That way our voice will be heard, our ideas put into practice and our country will receive the support it needs today more than ever.
Juan Felipe Lara Fernández is a Venezuelan lawyer, currently residing in Costa Rica, where he is President of Cervecera del Centro since 2013 to date.
Annexed image was made for this article and can be used royalty-free.