The University of Miami is home to more than 130 students from Venezuela, the majority of whom are active in UNIVEN (Union Venezolana), the Venezuelan student organization on campus. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan immigrants call the U.S. home, many of them right here in South Florida. Today, we are witnessing a historic development in Venezuela as its citizens strive to find a path to the restoration of democracy there.
Sustained international engagement will play a crucial role. Indeed, as the Hemispheric University, we join the chorus of voices in the region and around the world—including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the European Union, France, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United States, and the United Kingdom—calling for a free future in Venezuela.
Earlier this week, in visiting the Tunnel of Oppression on campus, I recalled the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose legacy we celebrated this week: “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Those words ring true as our neighbors demand their rights. At this critical time, we stand in solidarity with our Venezuelan students and community members and with the people of that great nation.