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Turning Point USA speakers discuss socialism issues in Venezuela


Venezuelan speakers José Villamediana, Carlos Ron and Samuel Machado speak on “Surviving Socialism” April 18 in the Bovee University Center. 

Samuel Machado was at his home in Venezuela when a gun was held to his head after his mother decided to speak out on human rights violations happening in the country. 

After this occurrence, Machado decided to flee to the United States away from his socialist country. 

Turning Point USA, a registered student organization at Central Michigan University, invited three Venezuelan speakers who fled their native country for “Survivors of Socialism.” Machado, Carlos Ron and José Villamediana spoke about what it was like living in a socialist country at the April 18 event. 

The main goal of the night was not to force the opposing side to believe differently, but to show the reality of socialism, organizer and Turning Point USA President Salicia Bayes said.

“With 2020 coming around and Bernie Sanders and (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), I think it’s important for people to see what real socialism really is and make that decision for themselves,” the Charlotte junior said. 

Throughout the night, the speakers spoke of hardships they faced while living in Venezuela. They spoke about inflation and witnessing people starve to the point that they were eating out of trash cans. Some people were dying in hospitals, due to the lack of supplies, they said.

According to Machado, the government implements its policies with force. Even without the use of force, Villamediana said the government still manages to dictate everyday life. They control everything from what someone can do with his or her money to what someone’s business should be used for, he said.  

The group spoke about how the government would censor their speech and would make citizens afraid to speak out against their country. 

A question from the audience asked if free healthcare could work in the United States. Villamediana replied by saying the healthcare is "not free because someone is ultimately paying for it."

Livonia freshman Madi Morrell came into this event with an open mind, she said. She learned about some of the dangers of socialism from the Venezuelans' experience.  

“It’s really interesting because while I have differing viewpoints I’m not completely sold on the whole socialism aspect,” Morrell said. “So seeing it’s not all the sunshine and rainbows everybody thinks it is and hearing kind of the grounding stories of what actually happens was eye opening to me.” 

These speakers might have been able to flee Venezuela, but these issues are still occurring today. The speakers agreed that there needs to be foreign involvement to see change since Venezuela is closer than many people think. 

Ultimately, the group said the idea of socialism may sound like a good idea, but it comes with a cost.

“We all want to live in an equal society, but what’s the cost for it? It costs everything. It costs your own personal freedom,”  Villamediana said. “You cannot say or think or do something that the government doesn't approve.”