My family escaped socialism in Venezuela when I was two years-old. Now, as Venezuelan-Americans, we deeply appreciate America, which affords us freedom, opportunity, and equality.
Many members of my family have migrated to Peru, Argentina, and Poland over the past 18 years in hopes of a better life, but none of these countries compare to the United States, where I have received extraordinary opportunities.
American students who idealize socialism (or even communism) would do well to listen to those who have experienced, and fled from, this corrupt and oppressive system. Unfortunately, just the opposite is happening on U.S. college campuses where fictitious notions of life under socialism flourish. Not only this, but any information pointing to the realities of living under such regimes is often denied, shut down, or completely blocked.
I am currently a student at Florida International University and see first-hand the hypocrisy from my peers when it comes to understanding the difference between capitalism and socialism.
They advocate for socialism while enjoying Starbucks lattes, new iPhones, and Spring Break trips. Capitalism makes these luxuries a reality for middle class Americans, but too many students fail to understand, or simply refuse to admit, that these are benefits unavailable to those living under socialism.
I am astonished and dismayed by the number of my peers who support socialism, the very system that forced so much of my family to flee Venezuela and that keeps the ones who still live there in poverty. I know this because much of my family remains in Venezuela, making me keenly aware of how much I benefit from living in a free, democratic, and capitalist system.
Venezuelans have a hard time affording the basic necessities of life, let alone $6 Frappuccinos and $1,000 laptops.
One Christmas, I called my family in Venezuela and, to my surprise, my little cousin was screaming for joy that he had been gifted a warm cup of milk. The reality is, far from providing them with economic opportunity and meaningful equality, socialism has instead kept my family in Venezuela in terrible poverty.
Despite this stark difference, my classmates are uninterested in learning from me and those that have actually experienced socialist dictatorships, and are too entitled to realize just how much they benefit from living under the economic and governmental system of the United States.
In fact, one of my peers confronted me during class over an Instagram post wherein I criticized dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela. She felt offended that I had expressed disapproval for communist regimes and said that America was no better. Most of the class agreed with her, citing supposed systemic oppression in the United States.
One of the reasons young Americans view socialism and communism more favorably than capitalism is because the education system glosses over – or completely falsifies – their horrors. In particular, college faculty tend to romanticize socialist regimes. For example, a Northeastern Illinois University philosophy professor argued in 2018 that the redistribution of wealth was the key to “sexual fulfillment.” Nikole Hannah-Jones, infamous creator of the 1619 Project and faculty at Howard University, called Cuba one of the “most equal” countries. “Cuba actually has the least inequality, and that’s largely due to socialism, which I’m sure no one wants to hear,” Hannah-Jones said in a podcast interview. And just last year a professor at Riverside City College in California said that “Soviet socialism saved and improved tens of millions of lives.”
Equality does exist in Venezuela: all individuals have equally poor outcomes. This is not the type of equality Americans should be praising. We must fight to expose the truth about living under socialism.
My parents witnessed Venezuela’s socialist dictatorship destroy all possibility and hope for progress in our native country. This shaped their admiration for American culture. We remain unequivocally grateful to God and the United States for the chance to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. These values are in stark contrast to Venezuela’s corrupt and oppressive regime.
I will keep doing everything I can to educate my peers and, sadly, professors about the present and historical reality of socialism, and open their eyes to the tragedy it has caused in Venezuela and worldwide. Unfortunately, the truth seems to fall on deaf ears on U.S. college campuses today.
Melissa Da Gama is a correspondent with the Leadership Institute’s Campus Reform and a student at Florida International University.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.